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
Biotech and Life Sciences
Software 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
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.
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. And Datto, a global data backup software leader that is expanding in Rochester, is one of many companies benefiting from the region’s higher-ed talent pipeline.
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.
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
Innovation Development Support
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.
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.