Dolores Kruchten has been serving as Vice President for Eastman Business Park, a Kodak Company, since October, 2015. Recently, we sat down with Dolores to get her take on where the Park is headed, and what she envisions are the immediate initiatives for the Park moving forward.
Q: Let’s start by focusing on your outlook for 2016 and what are Eastman Business Park’s priorities.
Dolores: Our vision is to create a national global manufacturing site that you as a company may not only want to work at, but also live near and learn at. That's what we are going to be, moving toward.
This year we'll start working on making the site more pleasing, such upgrading the Kodak Center for Performing Arts, a unique theater complex located right on the campus. That’s our short-term plan.
Q: You said “live here.” Is “residential” part of the plan?
Dolores: That's part of our longer term plan. Adjacent to the river, we'd like to incorporate a residential component to our long range plans. The property along Ridge Road to the north might be perfect for retail space – really it could be a variety of things. Across Lake Avenue to the east, we have a huge parking lot that we no longer need. It's right next to the river. We’d like to develop that for multiple uses to attract tenants to the Park.
We’d also like to make access to the Park more welcoming and convenient for pedestrian traffic. Today one cannot get inside the park without a pass -- you have to be invited in. We hope to one day create an environment where an individual could take an uninhibited walk from the river campus to the Performing Arts Center, about a quarter mile, or take advantage of the street of shops and cafes along Ridge Road West. Our vision is similar to what is happening at RIT and University of Rochester. Both are expanding their college communities to include necessary and convenient amenities and services within waking distance. Only now and here we are talking about professionals and their families. That would really help transform the Park, and create a bridge for the young, bright technical professional and his or her family, the workplace and the environment they are most accustomed to – a seamless transition from college campus life to company and family life.
That’s the future. Today we are focusing on key business segments, and in particular food, agriculture, battery and solar energy, and chemical processing. These are the areas that we see as high-growth market segments that require the assets we offer.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about why you think EBP is especially attractive to those segments?
Dolores: On the energy side, we have a variety of tools and capabilities. Companies in that sector can come here and get set up running because we have one of the best testing, verification and commercialization facilities in New York, perhaps the country. We have a digital pilot coater and we have analytical tools that they can use. We are also in the process of acquiring battery cell assembly equipment too. This means we can take them from the lab all the way through to production. We also have the space that they need to operate.
On the agricultural and food processing side, EBP is attractive more because of the infrastructure. Food processors need plenty of fresh water and we have access to 36 million gallons a day. If they're really big, like LiDestri Foods, they can use our rail and road logistics system. Five railcars arrive every day with tomatoes for LiDestri’s paste, and they actually run the produce right into the building and unload it. They also need inexpensive power, and they use the steam and chilled water that are byproducts of our tri-generation process. They also use our integrated waste treatment facilities. LiDestri and other food processors are drawn to our excellent waste management systems, because we can help them make food processing very environmentally responsible.
For chemical development and processing, we have tremendous infrastructure and expertise. Some overlaps with what food processors use. But in addition, we have excellent analytical tools and expertise, along with strong capabilities in specialty chemicals.
Businesses come here because they want the infrastructure we have, which also applies to photonics. Photonics will come here. We have security and we have an incrediblly strong talent pool in Rochester.
Q: What are your top priorities for 2016?
Dolores: At the top of our list, we want to expand our presence in the energy sector. Energy companies are attracted to us because we have technology they want to leverage. We have a New York State test lab where you can come to share the facility as a tolling model. It's an $8 million to $10 million facility that's funded by NYSERDA and DNV GL energy, which is a private company.
Companies can come in and use the lab as their test facility for whatever product they have – batteries and fuel cells, for example. Then we also have our roll-to-roll manufacturing capability, where you can have pilot materials run in a real manufacturing environment. Those are things that have attracted the energy segment to Eastman Business Park.
But we're also looking to expand into true manufacturing beyond pilot scale. We'd like to get someone in the energy sector doing manufacturing here.
We'd also like to get a new build in place with Sweetwater Energy, or FermCo – and move that biomaterials project forward.
Q: So you have plans to build new structures in the park?
Dolores: We have land we plan to build on and develop. We would love to get an agreement by the end of the year for a company to build a brand new building onsite.
We also have an idea to build a center at the Park for public access. What we'd like to do is turn one building into a Kodak Visitors Center, so when you come to Rochester, this would actually be one of the top 10 draws you'd want to come and see.
It would be a place where you can find out about the history of Kodak, as well as what we are doing today. It could also really foster interaction with previous employees. They could come in and share some of their history, and also get a look into our future and where things are going.
Q: Let’s say we get together again a year from now: what would you like to have accomplished?
Dolores: We would like to have a new build in progress. We would also like to have a couple of new energy companies doing manufacturing, and we'd like to be in the setup phase of a new food processing industry. That would be huge.