Regarding Rochester's economy, Kodak and Xerox have dominated the local business scene as patent monopolies, providing cushy jobs for engineers and business technocrats. As digital technologies have changed optics, these companies have struggled to shed their traditional industrial-age culture and adapt to become more nimble competitors. So far, they're still in business.
In 2005 the University of Rochester surpassed them to become the area's largest employer. It includes disparate subsidiaries University of Rochester Medical Center, Strong Memorial Hospital, Highland Hospital, Eastman School of Music, and the Memorial Art Gallery. A report by the Center for Governmental Research looks at the role of the Medical Center in the regional economy.
The economic transformation has opened opportunities for nimble companies to find resources freed by downsizing giants, from educated labor to cheap rent. A local success story the new and now medium-sized telecommunications company headquartered in nearby Fairport, PaeTec Communications, has grown quickly and assimilated their competition.
Alongside the great commercial innovators are poverty and the ways different demographics experience life in the Flour City. Blacks and Latinos around Rochester compare poorly to Whites and Asians around Rochester with respect to the economy and other metrics, and even compare poorly to Blacks and Latinos in other areas of New York State and around the country. In the Rochester area, Blacks and Latinos are more likely to be poor, hungry and without adequate healthcare.