ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Greater Rochester Enterprise is celebrating 20 years of local economic development successes in the Rochester region.

GRE President and CEO Matt Hurlbutt discussed some of the highlights over the last 20 years Wednesday during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation.

“As the lead economic development organization in the nine-county Greater Rochester Finger Lakes region we work very hard to attract new investments from corporations outside of the region as well as support local business growth,” Hurlbutt said. “In the 20 years, we’ve seen $3.5 billion of private capital investments in new facilities and expanding facilities here across all industry sectors which has helped create over 17,500 new jobs and supported 18,500 jobs and retained them here in the region.”

Hurlbutt said companies like Barilla America, Optimax, Greenlight Networks, CooperVision, American Packaging, Plug Power, and Love Beets are just a few examples of the businesses that GRE has worked with over those 20 years.

“We’ve really seen an increase in activity in the past few years,” he noted. “We’re managing over 100 active projects right now and the GRE team is very connected. That includes partners throughout the region, businesses that are here helping us, our colleges and universities, and community leaders who are always engaged with us in this team effort to drive more private investment and job creation throughout the region.”

Greater Rochester Enterprise takes a unique approach to economic development.

“We do a lot of listening,” explained Hurlbutt. “Believe it or not, we don’t pitch as much as we listen to what companies need in order to grow. That’s both on the connectivity side here in the region, we like to know what companies are up to and to tell the story of Rochester, as many of the firms that we have put on the show with you – and then it’s also connecting them to the right resources so that they can continue to innovate. And that’s why we see the activity we have where we just have outstanding talent creation programs, training, incentives, facilities, shovel-ready sites, power utilities, and so many other things. So those businesses who are looking to grow should really be in connection with the GRE team.”

When it comes to choosing Rochester or expanding locally, Hurlbutt said business leaders recognize the region’s assets.

“It’s really the smart people we have here in the region,” he said. “It’s that connectivity that we like to brag about, the fact that we are a region that’s large enough to matter and very easy to connect. We have a number of problem-solvers as well as the fact that we have an unlimited supply of water, outstanding utility rates, shovel-ready sites, and good facilities. So we’ve got people who can build buildings, help you solve problems, connect for a business opportunity, and do research and development. We see companies like La Fermiere, which is leveraging our abundant milk supply in Wyoming County, that has led us to that deal and that fully integrated supply chain – whether it’s packaging, optics, photonics, imaging, food and beverage going from farm to table, as well as many smart people who can do research and development to support companies like Optimax, Ocean Insight, and so many more who have made decisions to invest here in the region.”

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