ITX Corp. had never considered an office location in downtown Rochester before. Last month, the software development company announced its $3.9 million move into the Metropolitan on South Clinton Avenue, along with a commitment to create up to 80 jobs.
ITX expects to invest $3 million in the project; New York has offered up to $1 million in tax incentives while the city, county and Greater Rochester Enterprise are also providing assistance for the project. The firm, which creates web and mobile software products, considered other locations before settling on downtown Rochester. A top contender was Portland, Ore.
A combination of factors worked in Rochester’s favor, says Ralph Dandrea, founder and CEO of ITX. He answered a few questions for the Beacon on his company’s move downtown.
ROCHESTER BEACON: What prompted ITX’s decision to find new space? Is it growth? New business?
RALPH DANDREA: We have always been focused on the needs of our team, and we strive to create a work environment that is pleasing and productive. Our offices in Powder Mill Office Park have served us well, and the landlord here is exceptional. However, after doing a survey of our team, we learned that the vast majority of our non-management team members who work frequently from our offices would prefer to be located in the city.
ROCHESTER BEACON:Companies have come and gone from downtown Rochester, often moving to the suburbs. What attracted you to it? Had your firm considered it before?
DANDREA:When we established our office here in 2001, we did not consider a location in the city. We were concerned about many drawbacks in the city, and settled on the Perinton location. And since we’ve not moved since then, we’ve not had an opportunity to consider any other locations.
ROCHESTER BEACON:ITX did mull moving out of state. What other locations did you look at? Apart from the tax incentives, what worked in Rochester’s favor?
DANDREA:We looked at other cities to focus our continued growth, primarily because we have offices in other cities. At the top of the alternative list was Portland, Oregon, where we have also just finished moving into a new city facility. We were previously located across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington. The most important reasons for choosing Rochester as a focus city were the availability of talent, the quality of life, the ability to retain talent, and competitiveness of the costs of doing business, which includes the tax incentives we were granted. I was very impressed with how Greater Rochester Enterprise and the state, county and city economic development representatives worked together. It was unexpectedly quick and everyone seemed quite aligned with helping us to do this project.
ROCHESTER BEACON:What makes for a thriving downtown? Do you think more employers need to give downtown Rochester a shot?
DANDREA: To me, a thriving downtown is a place where one can both live and work, and where all of the services that contribute to quality of life (food, going out, theater, other entertainment, shopping, etc.) are available without the need to travel far. Downtown Rochester has certainly changed for the better in the past decade, but there is still much work to be done. I’m grateful to all of the governments, community organizations, and private citizens who have contributed to this process, and I’m hopeful we’ll continue to see this resurgence in our hometown.
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon’s managing editor.