There’s been a lot of buzz about the impact of the photonics hub coming to Rochester. The project, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter says, comes with a promise of thousands of jobs. Jennifer Mobilia from News10 NBC had the opportunity to sit down with the congresswoman to talk about her role in bringing a multi-million dollar photonics institute to the area and what it means for the future.
Congresswoman Slaughter says when the President announced he was setting up ten innovation centers to bring back manufacturing, she knew Rochester had to be home to one of them. “We knew that if we could get them to name one photonics, that there was no place on the Earth that could come close to Rochester in achieving that,” said Slaughter. Slaughter says with companies like Kodak, Xerox and Bausch and Lomb, Rochester already had a rich innovation history; making it a perfect fit for a photonics institute. She also cites more current innovations, like the laser U.S. Navy Seals used to bring down three Somali Pirates in 2009 who had captured an American sea captain.
“Wonderful company called Rochester Precision Optics had built that beam. They also did components for the night vision goggles with 90 percent vision that took down Osama Bin Laden,” said Slaughter. “And if you appreciated any pictures from the back side of Pluto– Rochester. I mean, no place in the world is a suited as we are to have that.”
In addition to the 6,000-7,000 new jobs the photonics institute is expected to bring, Slaughter says she hopes it will also lead to better transportation.
“We really need railroad tracks, high speed rail, we can go much faster than we are,” said Slaughter. “I’d like to get rid of regional jets that leave people sitting on the ground where you can’t even put your luggage in the overhead.”
The Congresswoman lobbied the White House for three years to ensure a photonics institute in Rochester would become a reality.