News release from mayoral press aide Dalmarys Matos:
Mayor Joe Ganim announced today that the City of Bridgeport was awarded a $50,000 Innovation Places Planning Grant by CTNext. The State of Connecticut’s Innovation Places program seeks to support entrepreneurs and leaders in developing places that will attract the talent high-growth enterprises need.
This support may ultimately come in the form of financing, technical support, business networking programs, employee amenities, and/or inexpensive/subsidized real estate spaces. Bridgeport is one of only 12 cities in the state that was awarded a planning grant for the state’s Innovation Places program. These grants allow communities to conduct a strategic planning process to better understand the relevant emerging conditions, risks and opportunities they face.
“Bridgeport has always been a city of great manufacturing and innovation and will continue to be for the future, even if our new knowledge-based economy will look different from our industrial past,” said Mayor Ganim. “As we build major economic momentum in Bridgeport, the strategic plan this grant allows us to put together will put focus on those areas in our city that can be a real engine for growth. This will also allow us to compete for a significant investment of state dollars into Bridgeport for further creativity and economic empowerment. I am very grateful for the partnership of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council in helping us shape a positive vision for Bridgeport’s future.”
The planning grant application was prepared by the newly formed “Bridgeport Innovation Places (BIP) Team,” co-chaired by Bridgeport residents George Estrada and Natalie Pryce. The Bridgeport Regional Business Foundation, Inc. (BRBF) was the applicant and serves as the fiscal agent for the Planning Grant, disbursing funds at the written direction of the BIP Team.
BRBF President, Mickey Herbert said “The Bridgeport Regional Business Foundation is proud to act as the local fiduciary for this grant, especially since it is designed to foster and promote exactly the type of creative thinking that is the lifeblood of Bridgeport’s future.”
The successful planning grant application included the following statement: “Capitalizing on Bridgeport’s strategic transit-oriented location, diversity and a legacy of innovation and manufacturing, our shared vision will foster, attract and retain entrepreneurs, small businesses and emerging industries by leveraging a dynamic live-work environment that builds on Bridgeport’s most significant assets: diverse culture, walkable neighborhoods, accessible waterfront, transit, affordable housing, research institutions and most importantly–a talented, dedicated and driven workforce devoted to Bridgeport.”
The Bridgeport Innovation Places Team has a particular interest in learning from local innovators pursuing new business ideas, developing new technologies, or exploiting existing technologies in new ways. Implementation grants will provide Bridgeport with a portion of the funding required to execute the plan and vision.
The BIP Team will be holding a series of focus groups in January, primarily during the week of January 23 – 27, 2017. A primary goal of the focus groups will be to provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to discuss the general business climate of the area, learn about new resources, and interact with other entrepreneurs and local stakeholders. The focus group sessions will last no more than 2 hours, and refreshments will be served. If you would be willing to share your opinions and perspectives, and have any availability during the week of 1/23-1/27, please contact Natalie Pryce at email@example.com or Ed Lavernoich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next phase of the Innovation Places program is the submission of a competitive implementation grant application, due on April 1, 2017. Implementation Grant awardees will be announced in June 2017, according to a recent press release from CTNext.