Cuomo, Kodak to Announce Deal for Eastman Business Park

1:58 PM, Jun 19, 2013   |    comments
Kodak headquarters at night. / ANNETTE LEIN / Democrat and Chronicle Staff photographer
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By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief

ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce an agreement Wednesday afternoon with the bankrupt Eastman Kodak Co. to boost the development of its sprawling Eastman Business Park in Rochester, including a commitment from Kodak to continue operations at the site.

The agreement, set to be announced at the park by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, the city's former mayor, will include three major components, according to a news release obtained by Gannett's Albany Bureau.

The sides are set to announce that Kodak will pledge to keep key operations at business park, particularly its advanced manufacturing operations and the Kodak Technical Center, which is the company's research arm. Kodak also will lease property at the business park for two companies it plans to sell as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

Kodak will bankroll a $49 million environmental trust fund to cover ongoing remediation in the Genesee River and at the massive park, which stretches over 1,200 acres and has 50 miles of roads and rail lines. The fund will be managed by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Recycled Energy Development, a private company based in Westmont, Ill., will expand its ownership and operations of the utilities at the park. The company first announced an agreement last December to operate at the park.

The park has become largely vacant over several decades as Kodak struggled amid a decline in sales of cameras and film. State and local business leaders have made a renewed push to redevelop the park, which has 35 companies and more than 6,000 employees.

"Today's agreement with Kodak on the future of Eastman Business Park is great news for the community of Rochester," Cuomo said in a statement. "Under this agreement, which addresses environmental, operations and management concerns, we are ensuring that EBP will remain a major and stable economic driver in the city, growing existing businesses, attracting new investments and creating jobs for the entire Finger Lakes region. I thank all the stakeholders for coming together for a compromise that works for New Yorkers."

The agreement was reached Wednesday, Cuomo's office said.

The agreement will need approval in bankruptcy court. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in January 2012.

"These important activities all combine to provide the right answer at the right time, serving the public and community interests in protecting the environment and strengthening economic development initiatives, while also facilitating Kodak's emergence from Chapter 11 by helping the company to fairly resolve its legacy liabilities," said Antonio M. Perez, Kodak Chairman and CEO, in a statement.

The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council has named the Eastman Business Park has its top priority.

In a joint statement through the governor's office, University of Rochester president Joel Seligman and Danny Wegman, who heads Wegmans Food Markets, said the agreement is important for the region's future. They are the co-chairs of the Finger Lakes council.

"The agreement announced today will better enable the Park to become what we believe will be one of the nation's premier centers of technological innovation," the statement read.

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