Greenlight eyes 2021 expansion as it moves into more areas

Greenlight Networks is freshly ensconced in its new Henrietta headquarters, hiring and looking for a busy year ahead.

“You are going to see a lot more activity out of us,” President and CEO Mark Murphy said in an interview Tuesday.

The company plans to be into the North Winton Village neighborhood in the city, as well as more locations in Greece and Irondequoit by year’s end; the Park Avenue neighborhood in March, and a portion of the Cobbs Hill area by June.

Murphy had just come from a news conference announcing its new headquarters and plans for continued expansion. The ultra-high-speed broadband service provider caters to residential and small business customers, offering Internet speeds up to a 2 gigabits per second (2,000 megabits).

Greenlight Networks has moved into new headquarters offices from University Avenue in Rochester to a larger space on East Henrietta Road in Henrietta.

Founded in 2011, Greenlight moved from East Rochester to the city five years ago but had outgrown those offices on University Avenue, Murphy said. The new location on East Henrietta Road is three times the size, with room to grow.

“We will probably be looking for additional space in this building, and expanding sooner than we would pre-pandemic,” he said, “just because we want to make sure people are comfortable.”

New York state is assisting the company with $1.4 million in tax credits tied to the promised jobs — ranging from front-line workers doing repairs and handling customer service, fiber engineers, sales, marketing and finance personnel. The company has 77 full-time employees, having added roughly 20 jobs this year, and expects to be in the 90s around the first of the year.

Greenlight saw roughly a 30% increase in network usage when the pandemic started — “and that hasn’t slowed down at all,” Murphy said.

But when it comes to expansion: “The pandemic certainly slowed us down,” he said, attributing that largely to slowed approval processes for permits and getting lines OK’d and up on utility poles.

Now it’s a race to get work done before asphalt plants close for the season, as that limits the ability to do any in-ground work. The new facility also will provide a data hub that will aid in servicing the surrounding area.

“I know our residents have been very excited for the possibility of very high speed internet in town,” Henrietta Town Supervisor Stephen Schultz said in a news release. “Their location in a revitalized building in Henrietta is a great plus.”

The company has been criticized for seeming to cater to middle-class neighborhoods, and pushed to address the city’s digital divide. A survey by the Rochester City School District earlier this year found 55% of all students contacted lacked internet access at home.

Greenlight signed an agreement with the city of Rochester this past spring, meant to streamline and incentivize the company to connect to key city facilities, and build out into under-served city neighborhoods. Murphy pointed to the 19th Ward as an area “we are looking at very closely.” But that will require digging into 30 to 35 streets, he said, and obtaining about 70 easements from property owners.

“That in itself is a huge undertaking,” Murphy said, adding later: “It comes back to customer demand.”

Greenlight’s model relies on neighbors doing outreach, raising awareness and helping with advance signups of customers.

Contact reporter Brian Sharp at bdsharp@gannett.com or at (585) 258-2275. Follow him on Twitter @sharproc. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers.