ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists job growth and expansion have continued across certain sectors in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region.

Matt Hurlbutt, the President & CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise, discussed areas where his organization has helped facilitate economic growth in 2020 and why he feels the trend will continue in 2021 Wednesday during our GRE Why ROC conversation.

“I think most people would be surprised to know that 2020, while we’ve been impacted by COVID, we’ve seen 34 project – what we call – wins for the region,” said Hurlbutt. “That means 34 different businesses making investments of over 500 million dollars of new capital expenditures, the creation of over 2,100 new jobs in the region, and the retention of over 1,500 jobs. And that’s where companies have promised to make investments in energy innovation, advanced manufacturing, new packaging facilities with ProAmpac, software development opportunities, and new innovations. And that’s very good considering what’s going on in the world around us.”

In collaboration with numerous companies, Greater Rochester Enterprise recorded capital investments that were more than double the results achieved in 2019. Companies that made significant investments include Li-Cycle, Greenlight Networks, Calero-MDSL, Gorbel, GreenLight Biosciences, ProAmpac, and Seneca Dairy Systems.

  • Canadian based Li-Cycle, a lithium-ion battery resource company, invested $175M to support a recycling “hub” at Eastman Business Park, creating 100 new jobs. This was the second of two investments by this company in 2020. Earlier in the year they invested $23M and created 23 new jobs.
  • Greenlight Networks invested $46.8M to create their new state of the art headquarters location, creating 93 new jobs and retaining 78 jobs.
  • Gorbel invested $3 million to increase its manufacturing presence and capabilities, creating 61 new jobs and retaining 15 jobs.
  • GreenLight Biosciences invested $16.6 million in new capital investment to create a pilot plant at Eastman Business Park to support its RNA-based solutions for agriculture and healthcare industries, creating 30 new jobs.
  • ProAmpac invested $8 million to establish a state-of-the-art innovation center creating 40 new jobs and retaining 57 jobs.
  • Seneca Dairy Systems invested $10 million to create an agricultural manufacturing facility, creating 60 new jobs and retaining 31 jobs.
  • Calero-MDSL, a software company that specializes in technology expense and market data management solutions, invested $3 million to establish a new office in Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts, creating 100 new jobs and retaining 185 jobs.

Following traditional economic development trends, 80% of the new project wins were from local companies that chose to expand here. However new players in Rochester such as Li-Cycle and GreenLight Biosciences accounted for 41% of the new capital investments.

Hurlbutt sees the positive trend continuing in 2021. “Right now we’re working on over 70 different expansion and attraction opportunities. And again, across the board, we’re seeing activity in advanced manufacturing, food and beverage processing, software and information technology, business services, and energy innovation. We’ve got some work also in the pharmaceutical supply chain that is changing really globally – especially as we talk about COVID, production of protective equipment, and also new treatments in COVID and some other technologies.”

The common ingredient for all of the positive economic growth can be traced back to GRE’s tag line. “We’re a place where smart people live and smart businesses grow,” Hurlbutt said. “As the world continues to innovate and look at new technologies from optics, photonics, and imaging, software, cybersecurity, pharmaceutical, and packaging science we are ideally positioned to solve those problems. There are some smart people here coming out of our outstanding colleges and universities as well as our proximity across upstate to solve those problems and to serve those markets. We’ve got people connected across the globe that continue to hire and innovate and they’re headquartered right here in Rochester.”

Hurlbutt anticipates 6 projects that will be officially announced as wins soon. They represent $42.5 million of new capital investments, 335 new jobs, and retention of 496 jobs. “There are also several more projects that I’m optimistic will close as wins for our community.”

To learn more about Greater Rochester Enterprise, visit