Night time aerial shot of Rochester, NY

Finger Lakes

Contact Laura Fox O’Sullivan
Industry Contact Regional Director Laura Fox O’Sullivan

The Finger Lakes Region is shaping the future

The Finger Lakes—home to the City of Rochester and to the striking, glacial lakes that give the region its name—is moving forward as a thriving hub of innovation and agribusiness.

The region's innovation ecosystem is fueled by the world’s best talent from the region’s top-tier educational institutions, creative industry-university partnerships, and a history of entrepreneurship and societal transformation. The Finger Lakes’ abundant agricultural resources and research assets are reflected in national rankings and in the regional presence of major food companies and packagers.

With accessibility to international markets in New York City and Canada, supported by a recently-upgraded Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC), the Finger Lakes region continues to build forward momentum with a mix of vibrant communities and forward-thinking businesses.

Key Industries in the Finger Lakes

Fiber optics image - Getty

Optics, Photonics and Imaging

Optics, photonics and imaging (OPI) is growing in New York State, with R&D and talent and establishing the Finger Lakes as an industry hub.

Biotech and Life Sciences

Investment in biotech research and development, life science companies and talent, is building this world-class New York State industry.
A New York State farm.

Agribusiness

New York State agribusiness, supporting leading companies, is fueled by farms, rich natural resources and innovative agricultural startups.
Play NYC

Software and Digital Media

New York State’s thriving tech community and top STEM talent puts the state at the forefront of software development and digital media.
Among many great options, none could match Rochester in terms of talent, local supplier networks, and opportunities to partner with top-tier research institutions. With this decision, we are positioning the company and the region as global leaders in PEM technology, driving scale and industry transformation.
Andy Marsh, CEO, Plug Power
workers in PPE inside a clean room

The region’s optics, photonics and imaging (OPI) assets are growing thanks to the Luminate NY business accelerator competition, attracting new OPI companies, while the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics (AIM Photonics) Test, Assembly and Packaging facility in Rochester is developing the photonics integrated circuit industry. Optimax Systems and Rochester Precision Optics are among the many optics companies that are expanding regionally.

Exterior shot of the RIT MAGIC Center at night

The region’s higher-education institutions contribute to economic growth. The University of Rochester and its medical center are one of Upstate NY’s largest employers and research centers. Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), including its Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction & Creativity (MAGIC), is a beacon for software and design innovation. Cornell’s AgriTech (the former NYS Agricultural Experiment Station) helps translate cutting-edge research for the food industry. The Finger Lakes region is gaining in prominence in the semiconductor and sensing industries, attracting companies to locate here thanks to our higher-ed talent pipeline.

Autumnal landscape of the Finger lakes

The Finger Lakes boasts one of the largest agricultural and food production industries in the eastern United States, home to top companies like Wegmans, LiDestri Foods and Constellation Brands. Others expanding their Finger Lakes facilities include the American Packaging Corporation, HP Hood and the Coca-Cola Company, which plans to build a $650 million fairlife production facility in Monroe County. And the Grow-NY food and agriculture business competition is growing innovative entrepreneurship in the region.

Finger Lakes By The Numbers:

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5th

in the U.S. for most patents per capita

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7th

“brainiest” large metro in the U.S. with 19 colleges and universities located in the Finger Lakes region

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$721M

invested in the region through the Regional Economic Development Council since 2012

Population 2024

Labor Force Status 2024

Age Distribution 2024

Education Attainment 2024

Population Age 25+ 2024

Data source: ZoomProspector (Applied Geographic Solutions)

Doing Business in the Finger Lakes

Construction of the New NY Bridge in New York's Mid-Hudson Region.

Tax-Based Incentives

All forms of tax incentives that enable savings and cost advantages to businesses.
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Operational Support

Programs offering assistance or training to ensure more competitive businesses.
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Growth Support

Funds, loans and other means of financial support to stimulate business growth.
People working and talking in co-working space in the Thomas R. Beecher, Jr. Innovation Center

Innovation Development Support

Leverage New York State’s unparalleled investment in world-class tech assets, programs and expertise to grow your business.

The Upstate Revitalization Initiative

The URI-winning Finger Lakes Forward plan identifies regionally strategic industries and investment priorities.

Regional Revitalization Partnership

The RRP is a $300 million private and public regional co-investment in three interconnected geographic areas: Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Rochester.

Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council

Visit the REDC site for more information on members, projects, economic data and funding applications.

Regional Office

The Finger Lakes regional office works hand-in-hand with new and existing businesses to help identify economic development programs to support business growth and expansion—for building new facilities, relocating a business, expanding operations and workforce and entering new and global markets.