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PAETEC CEO: "Rochester should want to be let down like this"

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Zack Seward
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WXXI
PAETEC CEO Arunas Chesonis said Thursday that company turnover is a good thing. He also said there's no word yet on whether Windstream will pursue PAETEC plans to build downtown.

PAETEC CEO Arunas Chesonis spoke to a local trade group at a hotel in downtown Rochester Thursday night. It was his first public speaking appearance since the August 1 announcement that PAETEC was being sold.

And with the elephant in the room just a block away, Chesonis was forced to tackle the subject head on.

One of the first audience questions handed to him on an index card: “What is your message to Rochesterians who feel let down by PAETEC’s planned sale to Windstream?”

Chesonis was the keynote speaker at the 20th annual gathering of the International Business Council of Greater Rochester.

And while the focus of his speech was the benefits of globalization, questions from the audience quickly veered local.

“Selling PAETEC to Windstream feels a lot like my daughter who just started North Carolina State,” Chesonis told banquet attendees.

Chesonis said the sale of the company he founded is “bittersweet.” But he had a message for those Rochesterians who feel let down.

“You know, we in Rochester should want to be let down like this, like, 50 times a year,” says Chesonis. “We want to have so many new companies starting up, so many entrepreneurs, so many new innovations that every year we’re selling another billion dollar company that started from nothing 10 years earlier.”

Chesonis says his transition team is slowly beginning the process of figuring out which local PAETEC employees will be kept on and where they’ll be stationed in the future.

With uncertainty surrounding a potential Windstream facility downtown, progress at the Midtown site still continues.

Rochester’s congressional delegation announced Wednesday that the city had secured a $2 million infrastructure grant from Washington for streets, sidewalks and lighting.

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