Eastman Kodak Co. workers in Rochester will soon begin working on a part of the business moved here from Mexico, a top Kodak executive said this week.
Fewer than 20 local workers will make the job transition as Kodak closes its manufacturing plant for film and single-use cameras in Guadalajara, Mexico, said Brad Kruchten, president of Kodak's graphics, entertainment and commercial films.
"It's reverse outsourcing," Kruchten said. "Instead of letting people go, they will be taking on a new responsibility."
Kodak sold the 484,000-square-foot Mexican property to a private investment firm in March for $41 million and then entered into a one-year lease agreement, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show. The plant closure will affect some 350 workers, Kodak said earlier this year.
Kodak opened the Guadalajara plant in 1969. It has supplied photographic products and services to consumers and commercial customers around the world. Kodak began closing the facility six to eight weeks ago, and the shutdown should be complete by year-end, Kruchten said.
The equipment at the site-including plastics, machine tools, and shop and factory equipment-was scheduled to be sold at auction Thursday and today.
The newly relocated group, which largely uses automated processes, is in roughly 10,000 square feet at the Eastman Business Park on West Ridge Road. It should be operational by early 2013 and complements a film-finishing operation already in Rochester, Kruchten said.
He made the remarks about the Guadalajara plant at an event-"Making It Work in America: Manufacturing Next-Generation Tech in the U.S., Accelerating Advanced Manufacturing and American Innovation"-held Wednesday at the Eastman Business Park and focused on bringing manufacturing jobs to the area.
The event, which drew some 250 people, focused on how ideas can be developed into commercial realities, using existing infrastructure and workforce talent to create manufacturing jobs in Rochester and the United States. Those speaking said there is a need to move research into the marketplace to create jobs and spur economic growth.
"In the past, the mindset was often 'A good idea is good enough,'" said Matt Fronk, acting director of NY Best Commercialization Center, who previously was director of General Motors Corp.'s Fuel Cell Research Laboratory in Honeoye Falls. "That is no longer good enough."
At the daylong conference, Kodak and Innovation Accelerator, a national public-private entity affiliated with the Virginia-based National Science Foundation, announced an agreement under which the Innovation Accelerator will step into an active leadership role of the Innovation and Materials Science Institute. The institute is Kodak's technology accelerator established to help move early- to middle-stage companies from innovation to commercialization.
Innovation Accelerator's goal is to drive America's competitive advantage in the global marketplace by promoting innovation as an economic growth engine. John Pyrovolakis, founder and CEO of Innovation Accelerator, said he and his team work with hundreds of entrepreneurial startups across the country and many could benefit from the infrastructure Eastman Business Park's venture provides.
In addition to the speakers, several companies showcased new products, ranging from one that produces a material that darkens windows and skylights on command to one that uses green chemistry to create next-generation flexible electronics.
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