As for region's future, Sandra Parker, president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance, said that the city is no longer dependent on Kodak. In the years since the company began cutting jobs, Rochester's workforce has diversified.
Kodak now employs about 3,500 workers in the Rochester area, just a fraction of 60,000 it had in its heyday of the 1980s. The University of Rochester has replaced Kodak as the area's top employer, Parker said. The Business Alliance's top priority is finding a way to fill Kodak's massive Eastman Business Park. Although Kodak still does some manufacturing there, it has also opened the space up to other companies and is now about two-thirds full with more than 40 tenants.
Meanwhile, Perez is preparing to step down. He'll give up the CEO job sometime in the next year once a replacement is found. He plans to remain as an adviser.
In recent years, Perez has faced considerable criticism for Kodak's decline in value and lost jobs. But he brushed it off saying, "I have a very high threshold for the opinions of the uninformed."
Perez said the time is right for him to leave the company. He remains proud of how Kodak has continued to innovate, despite its financial hardships, he said.
"I love this company. I Iove what we have done," Perez said. "But now it's time."
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