Mayor Bill Finch on Thursday delivered his annual state-of-the-city speech to the business community at the Holiday Inn Downtown. His speech follows as well as the above attached video presentation and video of remarks.
Today, I’m proud to say that the state of the city is strong and getting stronger every day.
And, as the chief executive of our city, I’m focused on making smart investments in the future.
It’s my job to think about the long run, and to make sure our city becomes a place where our kids and grandkids will choose to live, work, and raise their families, too.
That’s why I’ve been working hard to boost confidence in our city.
And, we’re on the right track. This city is on the way up.
After decades of broken promises, construction is finally happening at Steel Point.
Starbucks, Bass Pro Shops, and Chipotle are all slated to open this fall.
Once complete, the 52-acre peninsula and surrounding properties on Long Island Sound will be home to 1,400 apartments, retail, hotels, a grocery store, and more.
It will create thousands of jobs while adding tens of millions of dollars to our tax rolls.
There will be many more exciting announcements regarding Steelpointe Harbor in the coming months.
A short walk away from Steelpointe Harbor is our improving downtown.
It is home to hundreds of new apartments, several new businesses, and a wealth of companies that are choosing to move back to the heart of our city.
Fletcher-Thompson, an architecture firm that was founded in Bridgeport more than one-hundred years ago, sadly left in 2002.
But after seeing the progress being made here, Fletcher-Thompson decided to come back, bringing with it 60 new jobs.
This is just one of many stories downtown that prove our city is on the verge of a major comeback.
Downtown North will soon to be home to hundreds of new apartments, all within walking distance of a train station, and the premiere sports and entertainment venue in Fairfield County.
We’re also making progress on the East Bridgeport Development Corridor. The cornerstone of this revitalization project is Barnum Station, which will serve as our city’s second Metro-North stop.
Barnum Station will be a catalyst for economic development in East Bridgeport, spurring job creation at Bridgeport Hospital and throughout the neighborhood.
We’re investing in Bridgeport’s future by going green: creating green jobs and producing clean energy so our kids and grandkids will breathe easier.
Climate change isn’t just some debate for academics. It’s something mayors and their cities are taking leadership on for the sake of future generations.
As co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Task Force, I know all too well that growing cities like Bridgeport are the key to beating back climate change.
Per capita, cities account for significantly less pollution than suburbs.
And, preparing Bridgeport for a more sustainable future starts with job creation.
That’s why I set out to develop the Eco-Technology Park in Bridgeport’s long-neglected West Side.
It’s all about encouraging green businesses to come here, thrive here, grow here, and most importantly, put more and more Bridgeporters to work here.
The Eco-Technology Park is now home to dozens of green businesses, such as Tri-State Biodiesel, which is under construction in our state’s largest city, adding more green jobs.
Our efforts at the Eco-Technology Park have resulted in hundreds of new jobs, and more than $10 million in annual personal income.
And, like so many other projects, it’s growing and getting better every day.
By going green, we’re revitalizing run-down properties across the city.
Several buildings have served as I-95 eyesores. They’ve been vacant and run-down for decades.
Now, these same buildings are being revitalized, and will serve as beacons of our new economy.
One project is being driven by U-Haul, which involves restoring a beat-up industrial building.
Once U-Haul’s revitalization efforts are complete, this building and its neighbors will serve as home to hundreds of new jobs.
Another project, led by Gary Flocco, involves converting an old industrial complex off of Cherry Street into hundreds of apartments, a grocery store, and a school.
We’re also leading the nation in clean energy production.
We’re home to North America’s largest fuel cell, which powers 15,000 homes with clean energy.
We’ll soon be home to thousands of solar panels and a new fuel cell atop an old and unused landfill.
This project alone will power an additional 5,000 homes with clean energy, helping to reduce asthma rates, and bringing millions of dollars in revenue for our city.
Together, these two projects will power 20,000 households with clean energy while ensuring our kids and grandkids breathe cleaner air.
Our work to improve the city is having a real and positive impact on everyday Bridgeporters.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, Park City native Jorge Garcia–who is now our Public Works Director–spent Father’s Day in 1996 on the beach at Seaside Park with his family.
That afternoon, he looked across the Long Island Sound and saw the bridge to Pleasure Beach–a place where many of his best childhood memories were made–burning down.
For nearly two decades, Jorge and his family couldn’t get out to Pleasure Beach.
Last summer, the wait was over.
His family joined the more than 25,000 people who visited the barrier island last year.
We’re looking forward to another successful summer at Pleasure Beach.
I invite each and every one of you–and your families–to come out and see it.
It’s like a little piece of Nantucket right here in Bridgeport.
In addition to our significant investments in Pleasure Beach, and all of our existing parks, we’re also building new parks across the Park City.
One of these is Knowlton Park, which sits where the Acme Shear Company used to be, and was long in need of regeneration.
The new park serves as a catalyst for a nicer community, thriving businesses, higher quality of life in the neighborhood, and giving hardworking Bridgeporters long-overdue access to the waterfront.
We’ve renovated and created over 100 acres of parkland on my watch, and we’re just getting started.
The Park City is also dedicated to keeping Bridgeport kids and families safe and secure.
Our city is seeing its lowest crime rates in nearly a half-century. We’ve experienced a more significant drop in crime than any other city in New England. And, crime continues to decline.
There are many reasons for this, including our work with the re-entry community, which is aimed at making sure people are set up for success after serving time.
In partnership with Project Longevity, The Workplace, and John Santa’s group–Knights of Malta–we’re ensuring that there are jobs for those re-entering our community to get a second chance.
We also have the most diverse police department in the state. But I believe our police force must be more representative of our community.
These efforts are critical to making sure our police department and community are working as one.
We’ve launched a major police recruiting effort. We’re incentivizing Bridgeport residents to join this proud force and help make our city safer.
I’m committed to ensuring our police department is even more representative of our community.
In addition to keeping them safe, we’re preparing Bridgeport kids to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.
And, we’re starting early.
When it comes to early childhood education, the research is clear: If kids aren’t reading at the level they should be by third grade, they’re less likely to graduate from high school. Over the past year, we’ve added more than 360 new pre-K seats in Bridgeport.
That’s more than any other city in Connecticut. With these new seats, we’re giving more than 3,800 Bridgeport kids a fair shot at a better future.
And, there’s more to come.
Soon, Bridgeport will become the first city in Connecticut to offer universal pre-k. Whether its pre-k–or high school–we need to ensure Bridgeport kids are learning in the right environment. For decades, thousands of Bridgeport kids have been attending schools in desperate need of repair. But that is changing. We’re making smart investments in school construction. On my watch, we’ve launched the largest school construction effort in our city’s history. We’re renovating existing–and creating new–schools. Once complete, our school construction program will have created more than 3,000 jobs in Bridgeport.
And, more than half of our public school kids will attend new or newly renovated schools, ensuring more and more kids are learning in the right environment. Preparing our kids for future success isn’t just about improvements inside the classroom. We’re making improvements outside of the classroom, too. That’s why we’re committed to providing quality afterschool programs–including our award winning Lighthouse program–ensuring our kids are learning important academic and life lessons. These programs help prepare our kids to one day fill the 21st century jobs we’re creating. My vision–our vision–for the city is already taking shape. For example, today you can stand on the white sand of a re-opened, re-vitalized Pleasure Beach and look out onto Steel Point where development is finally happening.
There are new and improved views like this across the city, and many more to come as the city reclaims its waterfront. Right now in Bridgeport:
· We’re creating jobs.
· We’re growing businesses.
· We’re adding millions of dollars to our tax rolls.
· We’re producing clean energy.
· We’re ensuring our kids breathe cleaner air.
· We’re making our city safer and more secure.
· And, we’re making certain that our kids are learning in the right environment.
Together, we’ve accomplished a lot.
And, there is so much more to come.
But one thing is clear: Bridgeport is getting better every day.
Together, we’re making it happen. Let’s keep it going.