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Deputy Labor Secretary talks food processing at RIT

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Zack Seward
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WXXI
U.S. Labor Deputy Secretary Seth Harris toured RIT's Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies before meeting with local business leaders.

Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris was in Rochester Monday checking in on a federally-funded program designed to boost the region's food processing industry.

Harris spoke at RIT to a body of local leaders about how government can team up with both higher ed and industry to create better business outcomes.

Harris says investing in Rochester's food manufacturers is all about creating jobs in a growing sector.

"That's a business that produces more than a half-a-billion dollars in wages for this region," Harris told the Innovation Trail. "So we want to accelerate growth in that area and bring folks together around RIT and the community colleges that are partners with us."

In 2011, the U.S. Labor Department, Commerce Department and Small Business Administration funded RIT's Finger Lakes Food Processing Cluster Initiative for $1.5 million.

The goal is to help the region's 100+ food and beverage manufacturers.

"With a little bit of money from the federal government, we've been able to help begin the process here at RIT of bringing these folks together and getting a cluster together," Harris said. "We think we can grow the industry significantly here in Monroe County."

Earlier in the day, Harris appeared with Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Fairport) at a meeting with local farmers.

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