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Gill Under Consideration For Economic Development Chief Position

July 12th, 2016 · 19 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Development and Zoning, News and Events

Tom Gill

Tom Gill

He had the job as a young man from 1976 into 1982 and now Tom Gill is under consideration to be Mayor Joe Ganim’s director of economic development, a department that has had two chiefs in seven months sorely in need of stability.

Gill most recently has worked as chief operating officer of the Downtown-based Black Rock Capital, a commercial equipment finance company.

If Gill is hired he brings to the table institutional knowledge of the city and numerous business community relationships for a position that requires savvy to attract state and federal dollars and serve as a daily catalyst to stimulate private investment to grow the tax base. He’s not a pol.

In April, David Kooris, the development chief hired by former Mayor Bill Finch, left the city to accept a development position in state government managing a federally funded project addressing shoreline infrastructure improvements including Bridgeport. Ed Lavernoich, the executive director of the quasi-public Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation, agreed to fill in for three months, pending a search for a permanent replacement. As Laveroich returns to BEDCO, once again there is a void at the top.

Ganim’s spokesman Av Harris would not confirm Gill’s appointment but said “The mayor is looking for a professional with a good grasp on the city and strong relationships who will bring continuity to the office.”

Gill was appointed development chief by then Democratic Mayor John Mandanici in 1976. He remained on the job into 1982. Mandanici was defeated by Republican Lenny Paoletta in November 1981. Paoletta appointed Tom Corso to the position. Gill had a background in banking prior to his appointment by Mandanici as development chief.

According to Gill’s bio on the Black Rock Capital website, he served as president and chief financial officer and a member of the Board of Directors of Fairfield First Bank & Trust Company from 1986 until the establishment of Black Rock Capital in 1994. In addition to his responsibilities in the overall administration and regulation of the bank, Gill coordinated the re-capitalization of the bank with a private investment group. The bank failed in 1996, after Gill left, according to the Connecticut Department of banking.

Prior to the founding of the Fairfield First Bank & Trust Company, Gill was a First Vice President of the Connecticut Bank & Trust Co. with responsibility for all lending and branch operations in the Stamford area.

Gill has a B.A. in economics from the University of Bridgeport and a graduate degree in banking from the University of Wisconsin.

As development chief for nearly four years, Kooris helped guide construction of the Steel Point redevelopment area of the East Side with Bass Pro Shops as the anchor tenant, shepherded millions in state and federal grants for a planned East Side train station and flood control projects, as well as overseeing the start of the Downtown North rehabilitation projects, all of which will be on the plate of a new development official.

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Grin Ripper

    Gill Fits The Bill!

  • Jimfox

    Ganim hits one out of the park. Great pick, Mayor!

  • Lisa Parziale

    OMG Tom, part of our kiddy core. I don’t care how many come and go, we were taught by the best. Come back and help this poor City out. I thought of you when I realized we needed a miracle, you’re it.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Ganim didn’t hit anything out of the box, Tom has been around since Mandy, there’re not many of us left from the ’70s, but we know how to do what has to be done. If you want to make it through the rest of your term Mayor, you had better swallow your pride and hope the pro’s who are left along with the new ones such as JML eventually show you how to survive.

  • Bob Walsh

    Sorry folks. This is definitely not what Bridgeport needs.
    We need an experienced and proven leader on the development field. We need someone who has been there done that and I am not talking about a dinosaur from the ’70s.
    This is very bad news for the future of Bridgeport.
    Another nationwide search that goes no further than our own backyard.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Bubba, you’re right to a point. I worked with Tom in the ’70s and that’s like comparing night to day as far as the work that is needed today. But you don’t seem to believe no one worth their salt is coming to Bridgeport at the rate this administration is screwing up. Maybe I’m being nostalgic, I realize we had a lot more going for us back then, in addition we had a Mayor who loved this City and would have stayed as Mayor as long as Jasper if he could have. Let’s hope Tom is interested, he’s not stupid, if he suspects roadblocks or incompetency, he’ll beat it out of there.

  • Frank Gyure

    I am sorry but I am disappointed. We need someone who is completely out of the Bridgeport BOX. We need fresh ideas, fresh ideas where old industrial cities go forward towards the future. We have miles and miles of Long Island Coastline. And we are arguing about O&G putting a poison pile on the Long Island Coast, UNBELIEVABLE.

  • Mojo

    *** NANCY HADLEY OR BILL COLEMAN FOR THE E/D CHIEF POSITION. *** THEY NEED SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHO THE E/D WOLVES ARE AND WHO ARE THE REAL DEAL E/D PLAYERS IN AND OUT OF BPT. ***

  • Steven Auerbach

    Okay, so this is a joke, right??? There wasn’t any development during the corruption of the Mandanici era? Seriously, I have to agree with others on this blog. We need a proven leader. We need a proven leader. We need a proven leader not someone with a pulse. Get serious–this will not be good for the Mayor, not good at all!!! Not gonna be happy! Not happy at all! I just thought I’d share before it becomes fact. Now get a serious request for applications and get moving fast, this is just pathetic!

  • Bob Walsh

    Tom Gill,
    I suggest you read the article about the committee meeting and funding for the mayor’s second-chance initiative. This administration appears to be totally f’d up.
    They can’t get the council to approve this project because they can’t even explain what they are going to do with the money.
    This administration is a joke and you really need to ask yourself if you need this shit.

  • Jeff Kohut

    It would seem Bridgeport needs a fresh pair of eyes from a thriving city to fill the position of EDD. We need someone with a track record from such a thriving city, who is willing to take on the challenge of Bridgeport. We need someone who has actually hit a home run for another city with one or more big projects. We also need to have a real plan, with specifics designed to accomplish definite economic goals for the city. How much more grand list do we need to meet service needs while getting the mil rate down to healthy levels? What taxable grand list value at what mil rate represents an economically healthy Bridgeport? How much new development does that entail? What form should the development assume? How do we marry our development to full employment at living-wage jobs for Bridgeporters?

    I don’t believe such calculations or considerations have ever been attempted in any formal manner for Bridgeport. So really, we are flying blind when it comes to economic development direction and goals and indeed have no idea of where we need, or even want to go in this regard. Yet we are set to position some person in the EDD job who doesn’t have clear flying orders or any real flight plan. We are positioning whoever takes the job to failure and condemning them to crash and burn, in terms of their ability to accomplish what Bridgeport needs.

    But then, it is clear Bridgeport has been taking their economic development flying (or should I say marching) orders from Stamford/Hartford for several decades.

    I’ve done calculations based on Stamford’s budget, grand list, and mil rate, extrapolating figures for Bridgeport based on population differences and allowing for a Bridgeport mil rate of 30, which indicated (5 years ago) Bridgeport would need in the area of $13 BILLION dollars of new development to get us to a place that might be considered “healthy,” in terms of municipal/socioeconomic health.

    Now remember, Bridgeport presently has a taxable grand list of only $6 BILLION, while Stamford’s is about $20 BILLION with a mil rate of around 25.

    I don’t know Tom Gil, but it doesn’t sound as if he has sufficient background, or backup, to accomplish the enormous task of reconstituting the Bridgeport tax base/jobs base to necessary levels.

    Maybe some real research/homework and designed effort is needed to secure an EDD with the proper background and track record to take on Bridgeport. And Bridgeport has a lot to do in-house in regard to creating a vision for the new EDD to pursue, which is based on real research, planning, calculations, and resident consensus. How much, and what kind of economic development is needed to make Bridgeport “healthy” again?

    • Lisa Parziale

      Okay, I’m outnumbered on this one. I’m probably letting my old memories get in the way of the logic expressed by people I respect. G2 seems to be comfortable with the locals he knows or some around him know. It goes back to my theory he’s leery of anyone new coming in. I hope it isn’t paranoia!

    • Jimfox

      Here’s why Stamford Economic Development planners are smoking cigars.

      Gov Malloy: Navigators Opens New Headquarters in Stamford (2013)

      Gov Malloy: Kayak to Expand and Create 50 jobs in Stanford (2013)

      Gov Malloy: Economic Development Initiative help Small Businesses Create Jobs in CT (2013)

      Gov Malloy: Announces Bridgewater Associates to join “Next Five,” Will Create 759 and 1000 Jobs

      Gov Malloy: Announces NBC Sports Group is Fourth “First Five” (2013)

      Gov Malloy: Announces Deloitte to Expand in CT

      Gov Malloy: Tronox Establishing Global Headquarters in Stamford

      Gov Malloy: Renewable Resources Establishing U.S. Headquarters in Stamford

      Gov Malloy: Chelsea Piers Connecticut Opens in Stamford

      Gov Malloy: Charter Communications Establishing Corporate headquarters in Stamford

      • Frank Gyure

        This list proves my point that Bridgeport needs massive State assistance AND NOT NECESSARILY direct money aid. A very large majority of companies moved into Stamford with financial incentives from the State. The downside to that is the fact Fairfield County becomes a parking lot during the rush hours to and fro from Stamford. Norwalk is also experiencing growth and its growth is actually accelerating. Look at the history of Stamford and dig deep into the redevelopment of Stamford starting in the 1960s. But make no mistake, Stamford’s development would not have happened without the State and developers like F.D. Rich.

      • Andrew C Fardy

        We need to be more careful on who we back for governor.

    • Frank Gyure

      Jeff Kohut,
      Very eloquent and might even serve as a primer for the job as EDD. The only point I have disagreed with you in the past is I get a sense you feel manufacturing will play a large role in Bridgeport’s revival. I see possible light manufacturing in specialized industrial parks (with possible tax incentives from the state). However, the days of heavy manufacturing are over.

  • Bob Walsh

    Lennie,
    Are you working on a commission/finders fee basis here?
    First it was Ed Lavernoich. He’s been there and has the business connections.
    Then it was Bill Coleman. He’s worked in the department for years and has the business connections.
    Then it was Tom Gill. He used to be director (many decades ago) and he has the business connections.
    Give it a break. Nationwide search for proven qualified candidate. Pay them more than the mayor to prove his value with a guaranteed buyout if they quit due to political interference.

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