WXXI AM News

Morelle is "Startled" by University's Photonics Site Announcement

Aug 18, 2015

New York State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle

State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle says he finds it startling that the president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute would try to dictate the terms surrounding the location of the Photonics Institute's administrative headquarters in Rochester.

SUNY Polytechnic issued a news release Monday evening indicating that the photonics operation's business operations will be centered at Legacy Tower, the former Bausch and Lomb building.

"The last time I checked, SUNY Polytechnic is a state institution. State money is appropriated by the State Legislature and frankly, I resent the decision to try to reach into Rochester and tell us where they will site facilities," Morelle said.

Last month, Vice President Joe Biden came to Rochester to announce that a federal photonics hub would be located in Rochester, which competed against Florida and California for the designation. Officials expect the operation to generate thousands of jobs. 

Morelle said the decision about where to locate the photonics business offices is up to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and Governor Cuomo.

"We have had broad discussions with a large group of business and community leaders over the last several months. We have had public hearings and transparency. We're the ones, collectively, where facilities in Rochester will be located and what is the best use for facilities in Rochester," he said.

Morelle and other local leaders have supported the Sibley Building as the site for the photonics business headquarters, but Morelle said despite those preferences, he has been willing to enter into a transparent process to determine the best location.

Morelle believes SUNY Polytechnic will ultimately agree to that process.

"I believe they will be persuaded that going it alone and trying to impose their will on the Rochester community and the Rochester business community without our participation and without the participation of elected leaders is a bad strategy. I'm optimistic they'll back away and agree to work collectively, as they should."