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RBJ 75: Evolution of the local economy and the RBJ 75

Rochester Business Journal
July 27, 2012

In 1989, I interviewed Bausch & Lomb Inc. CEO Daniel Gill for the inaugural edition of what then was called Rochester's Top 50. A few weeks ago, reporter Will Astor and I sat down with current Bausch & Lomb CEO Brent Saunders for this publication's centerpiece Q&A.
Much has changed over the past 23 years-at B&L, in the local economy and at the Rochester Business Journal. But at the RBJ, at least one thing has remained unchanged: the reason we publish this annual special section, now known at the RBJ 75. Our aim is to measure systematically the performance of the companies that form the core of the regional economy.
At first, we limited our focus to public companies. Back then, Rochester's traditional Big Three-Eastman Kodak Co., Xerox Corp. and Bausch & Lomb-employed nearly 64,000 people here. Today, the trio combined has roughly 13,000 local workers, and among them only Bausch & Lomb is increasing its local staff.
As the Big Three downsized and the Rochester economy underwent its own restructuring, this publication evolved. In 1996, we expanded it to include both public and private companies. In 2009, after publishing the 20th edition of Rochester's Top 50 the previous year, we broadened its focus once more, so that it encompassed not only the leading public and privately held companies but also the area's top 25 non-profit organizations. Hence the new name.
Our approach to measuring companies' annual performance has been consistent. We examine changes in employment, sales, earnings and return to shareholders, among other measurements. The publicly held companies are all homegrown: firms based in Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Wayne and Wyoming counties, as well as out-of-town corporations founded in Rochester that have not been sold. Eligibility was determined by each company's status at the end of 2011.
While this new edition brings no major changes to the RBJ 75, its evolution continues. For the first time, our main ranking of all three categories is based on the same criterion: total local employment. In the past, net income was the primary performance measure for the public companies. Since it's hard to think of anything more important to the local economy than jobs, we decided this change made sense.
We've also reformatted our secondary performance charts and assembled them on a two-page layout, rather than spreading them throughout the publication. This way, it's much easier for you to compare the numbers.
Finally, we decided to take a new approach with the articles written for this special section. Rather than focus almost entirely on the hard data in the main and secondary charts, we chose to write about five of the companies whose performance over the last couple of years-or future potential-stands out.
As I note each year, don't hesitate to send us ideas for new and better ways to spotlight Rochester's leading public, private and non-profit companies. Please let us know what you think of the RBJ 75 and how we might make next year's edition even more interesting and valuable. Contact me by phone at (585) 546-8303 or by email at
7/27/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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