My nostalgia for Roche extends back to my childhood, growing up on a hill five miles across the Passaic River in the predominantly Polish town of Wallington. From a clearing in the woods on the hill, the major landmark across into Essex County was the Roche tower, built the year before I was born and known by the unglamorous name of Building 76. The route my family took while driving back from the official state pastime of mall shopping invariably took us past the Roche campus on the Route 3 side. This drive past Roche from the west was preceded immediately by a glorious view of the New York City skyline, almost straight on with the Empire State Building. Whenever I see these two landmarks, I know that I’m almost home.
My Uncle Tommy was a facilities maintenance worker at Roche for about 30 years. Readers here are certainly concerned about the loss of scientist jobs – but Roche provided upward mobility for high school and GED graduates like my uncle.I think that's an unfortunate side product of our new, shrinking R&D reality. With large research campuses come many relatively well-paid support positions -- the administrative assistant, the technician, the dishwasher, etc. If our R&D future consists of smaller companies where the scientists wear many hats, there will be fewer jobs of that sort. Sure, that can sometimes mean higher productivity levels, but one has to acknowledge the human cost.