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Dear Mr. Bezos, Bridgeport For Amazon HQ2

September 10th, 2017 · 28 Comments · City Politics, Development and Zoning, News and Events

You hear about the MarketWatch chatter that Bridgeport is a fit for Amazon’s second HQ? Democratic candidate for City Council in the Black Rock/West End 130th District Rowan Kane, in a letter to company CEO Jeff Bezos, declares, “Our diversity of heritage and experience and thought is not just unique, it is the foundation of the American experiment.”

Dear Mr. Bezos,
In case you missed it, MarketWatch has done some homework for you and narrowed down potential homes for #AmazonHQ2. Of the 11 that fit the your criteria, one city is probably an underdog. Mine. Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Bridgeport hasn’t always been the underdog. In 1901, two years before Orville and Wilbur Wright took to the air at Kitty Hawk, a German immigrant to Bridgeport named Gustave Whitehead flew further and higher. In the 1930s, we had over 500 factories making everything from corsets to rifle cartridges. It was said you could quit your job in the morning walk across town and have a new job by lunch.

For a while, industry begat industry and another immigrant and aviation pioneer, Igor Sikorsky, came to the area to develop the helicopter. But then, as is the story of so many engines of the American economy, Bridgeport fell on hard times. With the exception of Sikorsky, which recently committed to build its helicopters here for decades, and a few others, industry has left Bridgeport. In its wake are too many empty factories and too few well-paying jobs. Underfunded public schools, sub par political leadership and budget crises followed soon thereafter.

But here’s the thing, despite what folks from the leafy suburbs and even some of our fellow Bridgeporters might think, this city has a future. It goes far beyond the fact that we’re a train ride away from New York, Boston or D.C. Or that within 30 minutes you can be on the campus of over a dozen colleges and universities, including Yale and UConn as well as our very own University of Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University. Or even that tech companies, like indeed.com and Datto that have already planted their roots in the area. And what it comes down to is the people. As a friend of mine and native Bridgeporter says, “There is genius in these streets!” (Thanks, Kyle.) Bridgeport is the most populous city in the most educated state in the country. Our diversity of heritage and experience and thought is not just unique, it is the foundation of the American experiment.

Make no mistake, our city and our state, both with economies that seem stuck in the mud, have begun to reinvent themselves. Biotech and aerospace companies have already invested in Connecticut and I do not have to tell you, Mr. Bezos, that companies like that and like yours are the future of our economy. As a millennial who has lived and traveled all over the world, I have never seen a place that has more potential greatness than Bridgeport, Connecticut. Our streets once hummed with an energy that powered technology and industry forward. Driving through downtown, you can still feel that energy in the air. We are a city that knows its history, knows what it can be and is impatient to remake itself anew.

So, Mr. Bezos, come to Bridgeport. We’ll show you around, maybe grab a bowl of pho at Pho Saigon or some Brazilian assado at Pantanal and you’ll see everything Bridgeport has to offer.

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • Steven Auerbach

    Excellent letter Rowan Kane. Since I heard that Amazon was looking to expand and move I couldn’t help but think- Are we Marketing our city or more specifically Steelepointe? You would think that Steelepointe, the City of Bridgeport and the BRBC would have a united front – The time is now. Giving Amazon a prime location on the water in the center of what has become Bridgeport’s comeback story would seem obvious to any person that truly believed in the city.

    Black Rock , your district , needless to say would be the recipient of future reduction in property taxes. I think Black rock is under the impression that a magic wand will reduce their taxes. The educated voter knows that extreme economic development is the ticket.

    Excellent letter! You should have copied the Mayor, BRBC and the office of Economic Development . This way when AMAZON comes banging down our doors, we won’t be blindsided. This is the kind of aggressive, forward thinking young blood the city needs. Good luck!

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      ” I think Black rock is under the impression that a magic wand will reduce their taxes…”

      Are you kidding? That’s the most absurd thing you’ve ever said, if any neighborhood in Bridgeport is politically aware it is Black Rock. Over here we all know why taxes are high: the city has been badly managed, for years.

      If joe Ganim had any balls he would stand up for the people of the city of Bridgeport. As it is he has to deal with a bureacracy bloated with political patronage, no-show jobs and incompetents hired at the behest of the chairman of the DTC. Trim the fat and rot from the municipal payroll and it is a given the city’s coffers will see a pn influx of kiquid cash.

      And let’s not forget all the tax batements on abandoned oroperties. Where’s the contemporary benefit? Those are costing the city of Bridgeport hundreds of millions of dollars a year. One would think that, with all the fine talent in the city’s legal department, it is possible to take back the abatements through eminent domain or outright revokation. But that isn’t sexy enough for Joe Ganim and his goombah. Not a useful photo op. Hell, they couldn’t bring O & G to heel over noise and dust.

  • Stringfellow

    Bring Amazon to Bridgeport use the old Remington area from Barnum Avenue, Seaview Avenue to Arctic Street.

    With the railroad stop on Barnum Avenue would be a way to reduce the traffic chaos but it would be a huge shot in the arm the city has needed for far too long. It would be real shame if Bridgeport misses out on Amazon. Just think of the jobs and the taxes the city would create too.

  • John Marshall Lee

    “I think Black rock is under the impression that a magic wand will reduce their taxes.” Steve, as I have cautioned in the past, anyone who claims to not understand finances really leaves themselves out of said discussion. So when you start a sentence with “I think” and finish said sentence with my neighbors in Black Rock believing that magic wands are available to deal with City finances, you are off again on one of your flights of fancy.

    Steve, you listened at the forum last week where political patronage jobs, wide-eyed belief that the State can and would be sending Bridgeport MORE MONEY, failure to have priorities for spending and services,and inability of City Councils in recent years to use all of the Charter power available to become a check or balancing mechanism in municipal governance. And Ganim2 has paid no attention to showing taxpayers the problems present, financial and structural, when he came to office. That is not OPEN or ACCOUNABLE. Why show how badly taxpayers were abused if you are going to keep the same game running? It’s the DTC game, with the same players collaborating? It works for them (and you too, Steve?) so it must be good for everyone? Why so much attention to Black Rock, Steve? Are you thinking of moving? Has Danny made you an offer you can’t refuse? Time will tell.

  • Jimfox

    Someone give Stevie A. a pair of knee pad!

  • Jeff Kohut

    Good job, Mr. Kane! (Hopefully, a similar letter has been sent from City Hall and signed by the Mayor Ganim…)

  • Bob Walsh

    Dear Mr Rowan Kane
    This is exactly what Mr Bezoa does not need. An unelected city official writing him and telling him what he doesn’t need to know.
    First of all why not write Mayor Ganim and tell him you will do whatever he wants ESPECIALLY if you actually win. Otherwise you will remain an unelected city official.
    Unless you don’t care about the city and only about getting elected.
    Let Mayor Ganim and Tom Gil put together a first class presentation instead of a first grade “What I would do if I were mayor of a city” one.
    Line up videos of potential sites. Facts and figures to back you up.
    Then have Mayor Ganim line up members of the business council to say wonderful things about the city. Add other individuals to further back him up.
    Unless you are simply grandstanding and don’t really care about Bridgeport becoming headquarters number 2. Of all this is is a desperate ploy to get on the city council. But most people will see through this and simply laugh at you.

  • Jimfox

    A Danny Roach Carpetbagger !

  • Steven Auerbach

    John Marhall Lee- There has to be a reason why people truly are not interested in what you have to say. If you believe Joe Ganims patronage positions are thereason taxes are high in Black Rock you are just an ass, If you think electing an individual that doesn’t make bricks and mortar economic development a priority you are insane. Black Rock pays the highest taxes in the city. Finch did Black Rock a favor and didn’t raise taxes- He lost the election. The city ay be mismanaged but economic development is the only ticket that Black Rock has to stop the escalation. Patronage jobs- really? What planet re yu living on- the same planet as that asshole, Jim Fox with his Spain will ease the pain Bullshit. If Rowan and Burns loose the election it will be because Danny Roach is weak and ill advised where to go for the votes.

    JML for the record, I am laughing at you. I have been laughing at you boring , posts and negative rants for years. Who does listen to you thinking that you have the answer?? seriously John – I’ve listened to your insuts enough. Now , You et what you get and you don’t get upset.I do not live in Black Rock but I will tell you that young people agree with me. If you think a council member is going to cure your pain then vote for Spain. He is a respectful fine man. I do not have to insult him to make Burns and Kane look good. The people will vote. And for 2 years we can listen to your constant whining and Spain will give you a platform. Black Rock is not my district. I don’t owe Danny Roach anything to support his endorsed candidates. I have always felt that Burns was a very respectable candidate. Sqeaky clean and working hard. Rowan Kane represents a youthful take on issues as well as having political experience working with Jim Himes and a breath of fresh air as well as Christina Smith . I do not think living in Black Rock for your entire life makes you . worthwhile candidate. Mr. Lee I have never spoken to you in a condescending manner,do not talk to me that way because I do not talk your language. You are such a negative individual that only a Bob Walsh could love you. You could both blow spoke up each others ass. Tell each other how wonderful you are.

    Me I am content being a cheerleader for the city. My post was simply commending Rowan Kane for taking the initiative to attract Amazon.

    Yes JML, Only Economic development on a massive scale will save the Bridgeport taxes. Nothing else. It all come down to the Union Contracts . Bankruptcy could have leveled the playing field . It did not and now it will not. Drip Drip Drip development like your droning on and on will never lower the taxes. New Development and reasonable tax abatements to lure developers are the only ticket. That’s all I have to say on this. Not really interested in tit for tat on this subject. ‘

  • Steven Auerbach

    I apologize in advance for the many typos and calling Jim Fox and asshole.Even I know he is a much nicer person on Facebook.

  • Jimfox

    Vote Smith& Spain will ease the pain!

  • Jeff Kohut

    Bob: Economic development is the sine qua non of all aspects of
    Bridgeport socioeconomic revitalization. If Jeff Bezos received more letters from Bridgeport citizens along the same lines as Council Candidate Kane’s letter, it could only help our cause. It is the “reformers” who use the one-note whine about “corruption” as a political platform (or excuse for general cluelessness) that are pushing us farther behind the 8-ball… Stamford Plantation loves it when the only song they hear from their Bridgeport Servant’s Quarters is that Old Corruption Song; that assures them (the Gold Coast/suburbs) that Bridgeport is still too stupid to recognize their reality of exploitation and will remain available for maintaining the Gold Coast/suburban tax-base/lifestyle indefinitely… God save us from the political reformers who would save us from our terrible corruption even as they nurture our poverty and exploitation… Again: Good work Mr. Kane. Don’t be discouraged by the anti-corruption dolts — even when they compare us to happy, but poverty-stricken, squeaky-clean places like Westport, Shelton, Trumbull, New Haven, and Milford, et al. Yeah! No patronage or corruption in dem-dar places!… It’s all about the CORRUPTION!! (Not!)

    • Bob Walsh

      Jeff
      Jeff Bezos is a very busy man. He needs a package, complete with every thing I mentioned. If you want to include a section from other citizens fine. But he can not read every Tom, DICK or Harry letter sent sepately not as part of a package.
      If you think flooding his mailbox will help I cannot convince you otherwise but please do not tell me he will read a letter like Rowan’s and make his decision on that. Or 500 letters like Rowan’s without a complete package and make his decision without a package from the city of Bridgeport. Ain’t gonna happen.

    • Bob Walsh

      Also Jeff above all else Mr Bezos is a businessman. And he is interested in the bottom line. If you do not include incentives you can forget of it.

  • Local Eyes

    Rumor Mill:
    Jeff Bezos reads this blog ever since his subordinates identified Bridgeport as a prime place for HQ2. He likes the clever wit, style and swagger of the numerous posters and thinks his future employees will, too.
    Here’s what he doesn’t like: He dislikes a non-elected official trying to have a horizontal conversation with an internet pioneer who’s a leader in retail, the cloud and media. He finds it condescending, distasteful and too buddy-buddy coming from a total stranger. That’s why when he chooses Bridgeport as HQ2, he’ll be mentioning someone else’s name.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Steve,
    I have promoted OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST process on municipal governance by writing here on OIB for more than seven years. I have been a resident of Bridgeport in a section called Black Rock but I embrace the problems of the entire city when I research, write and speak. At times you criticize the length of my postings but your “rant” (a favorite word you use when referencing the work of others) runs over 520 words today. And your huffing and puffing instructs no one.

    To say that economic development is important financially may be true, but what has your DTC witnessed without saying a word to the public for more than 10 years? A decrease in the taxable grand list, most recently by over $1 Billion? Who is responsible? Who is accountable? And what is the five year projection for Grand List growth in the next five years? With footnotes as to sources? Do Ganim and Gill have such a plan? Lay it out for the public. It might be worth more than all of the photo ops, the design illustrations and your empty words of emotional support for the folks who have been in power, in the darkness for years.

    Ganim1 was caught by bad choices that saw him put himself before those he was elected to serve. The City suffered from this. He asked for a second chance in the City. Ganim2 is using the same playbook to get “out of office in Bridgeport” by seeking office in Hartford. Perception of “pay to play” is off-putting to serious investors who know that profitable business has enough risks without adding extra expenses.

    Council members including Katie and Scott have not been as curious, persevering, or consistent in asking questions and using their Council powers to insist on responses about City fiscal matters.

    Too bad for the taxpayers across the City, of whom I believe you are one? Can you tell me what the total expense of public safety moving from Plan B to MERS is, more than 24 months after such action was approved?

    My gosh, Steve, is that what you term negative? Corruption of the meaning of words and half-truths may work with the very young or other citizens new to the discussion, but I am finding many who are used to academic give and take, the Socratic Method for learning won’t settle for DTC status quo. Put up your idea. See if it withstands the dialogue. Adjust and move on.

    But the DTC is silent on all issues. A shame? Or a sham? Continue to dance to the tune, as the DTC emcee. As a teacher where in Socratic exchanges do you find, “Not really interested in tit for tat on this subject”. A close of discussion? What about discussion that informs the public, provides numbers that are timely, accurate and accountable, and show us we are on the right path? (Fewer words than you used?) Time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      JML, you wrote, “DTC is silent on all issues,” John the DTC has NO say in any City issue, that’s NOT their responsible and it’s NOT in the DTC rules and policy.

      • Ron Mackey

        The 90 members of the DTC have no say so with the issues concerning Bridgeport, there is no dialog or discussion. Now there are some of 10 district leaders of the DTC who agree with Mario Testa who might talk about City business.

        • John Marshall Lee

          Ron,
          You are indicating that there are
          10 District leaders with the actual though “unofficial” power in the City to affect plans, programs and services; effect change without being in a formal position through influence; and make sure that the other eight representatives in each DTC are present to agree with the chair rather than have knowledge, current information about governance, care about all of the people of the City, and keep quiet as competence is ignored for compliance in the selection of candidates for endorsement? And their leader accompanies our Mayor in his Connecticut quest to other cities to portray activity in the City as “transformative”? But says nothing locally and publicly? Is this the way a machine operates?? With a hum, but no words for a public dumb and deaf? It is not about registering new voters at all. Isn’t it about getting your neighbor who has been registered for years, but saddened to tears and desperation, who has concluded: Why should I vote? And by that question eliminates the opportunity for change? That might attend to the people’s basic needs? Time will tell.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Ron,
        So you agree with me that the DTC is silent, but you indicate that they have no role to play. I disagree. In communities far and wide, platform and policies are discussed such that a POLITICAL PARTY stands for something. Means something to people voting for an endorsed candidate. Is that true in Bridgeport? No! Could it be different were there 46 DTC members who thought differently? Yes! You have made this point time and again.
        They adopt their own rules? Make their own policy? And have chosen the majority of available candidates in the City for years? Yes.
        Are they more important than the Charter, Ordinances and Council rules? Doesn’t it seem so? If conflicts of interest are ‘encouraged’, if rewards are a part of the ongoing process, and if there is no sheriff to come to the rescue when the system fails the people, whom do you hold responsible and accountable? Isn’t the Bridgeport DTC an actual “Secret Disservice”? Time will tell.

        • Ron Mackey

          JML, just ask a DTC member, a current or past member and asked them what is talked about at DTC meetings, I’m not talking their district meeting and asked them if their view is taking seriously. JML, remember we are talking about Bridgeport and Mario and Joe have it locked down, like it or not.

    • DC Faber

      I think too much is made of the tax increase that slammed Black Rock but did not have the same impact on the rest of the city. My wife and I got a HUGE escrow refund! Great right? Not really! Our refund in spite of the tax hike was due to the value of our home plummeting! We are underwater with no really hope or expectations of this changing anytime soon. A change would require financial investment and any company that does its due diligence on Bridgeport would avoid it! This is due to many factors but them all can be tied to the lack of ethics that exists in Bridgeport; be it patronage jobs, no bid contracts, a city that doesn’t fund its schools and a complicate city council that is now a rubber stamp for a mayor and party head. All the good things Rowan wrote are true. Bridgeport is beautifully situation on 95, 15, 25, and 8. The city has the one deepest natural harbor on the east coast. The city itself is aching to enter the 21st century is only those in power would tap its potential for the befit of her citizens. Getting folks like the challenging candidates in the 130 make for a good start. Change the culture of City Hall and maybe we can right this ship.

  • Bob Walsh

    Steve A
    What are you talking about?
    The system is broken.
    We need to cut where ever possible.
    We need to consolidate and eliminate departments.
    Every bit helps.
    We do not need endless patronage positions.
    You sound like Ganim.
    But then again you take that as a compliment.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Bridgeport would be lucky if it gets just a ‘Beso Goodbye’ from Amazon.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/09/dear-amazon-we-picked-your-second-headquarters-for-you.html

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