Kooris To Exit Development Job Soon, Who’s In The Wings?

Economic Development Director David Kooris will spend his final day on the city job next Friday as he segues to a position in state government managing a federally funded project addressing shoreline infrastructure improvements including Bridgeport. Who will replace him?

Mayor Joe Ganim is expected to start a search soon for a permanent replacement. One name circulating as a possible short-term replacement is Ed Lavernoich, the executive director of the quasi-public Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation. Lavernoich spent 25 years as a city development official including second in command until taking a job in 2012 as development chief in Trumbull. BEDCO has had a number of starts and stops the past decade. It was a job Bill Finch filled prior to becoming mayor in 2007. Kooris replaced Don Eversley, also a Finch hire, in the summer of 2012 just in time for Bass Pro Shops as the announced anchor tenant for the Steel Point redevelopment area of the East Side.

Eversley shifted over to BEDCO located at 10 Middle Street, also the headquarters of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, the city’s chamber arm. Finch, with the help of United Illuminating, funded Eversley’s $125,000 salary in efforts to revive the development authority Finch once headed himself. Eversley lasted less than a year in that role as it ran out of funds.

Last spring Lavernoich was hired to revive BEDCO with an initial focus on a development plan for Bridgeport’s Eco-Technology Park.

Lavernoich served in a number of development functions for the city on behalf of several mayors. Lavernoich is not a city pol. He’s your classic government professional highly regarded by ex-city mayors and development directors. He could step into the chief development role on a short-term basis with no learning curve.

As development chief for nearly four years, Kooris helped guide construction of Steel Point, 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.

When Kooris announced last month he was leaving for a state job, Ganim announced, “Obviously we are still going through a transition process, and the director of the Office of Planning and Economic Development is a very critical position for our city that we will need to fill with a qualified, visionary person. We will be consulting with our business community and eager to get their input on who will best attract more business and economic development to Bridgeport.”



  1. Nothing against Ed; I like him as an individual but let’s not go down that road again.
    For whatever reason, nothing really good happened when he was on the job. And to bring him back, even on a short-term basis, does not look good for the city.
    Time to move on. Or else it will end up being another nationwide search that ends up naming someone who just happens to be in your own backyard. Not good.

  2. Ed Lavernoich is ideal for the job. He’s ahead of the curve when it comes to Steel Point because he was there from the beginning. He’s a progress promoter and should be chased by the fastest person on the Mayor’s team.

  3. Okay, you have my interest, but let’s follow the flow of money and info for the benefit of all readers.
    Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation, a quasi public entity, but what does it accomplish? In the light of the fact that Don Eversley, not famed for his City accomplishments at the head of OPED, was called on to ‘revive’ BEDCO in recent years (until the money ran out) and that ‘revival’ is being attempted again, what is the City obligation or connection, if any? If there is a Mayoral appointment or any financing from the operating budget as support, where are the meetings, agendas, minutes, agreements, corporate papers and budgets, for instance? Perhaps they can tell us about goals first and then accomplishments? If Finch and the UI funded BEDCO until the funds ran out, what were the investments and for how long? The UI proved in its negotiations with the City around the Solar Farm they are dominant and the public is secondary. (Subject for another day.) What was the practical or political motive for UI investment? Perhaps the City Assessor’s office was looking to revalue their land and buildings along with personal property to place them closer to the City’s #1 taxpayer for the past eight years? Pure conjecture, obviously. Time will tell.

  4. Mayor Ganim and his team need to look beyond the socioeconomic rot of this region/state for a true visionary who will be unencumbered by any history or association with Connecticut. Someone from an enlightened, thriving place with a diversified economy who has created a reputation as an economic development leader/visionary in that place.

    Ed Lavernoich could probably be a good “right-hand man” for such a person, but otherwise has too much history here to serve in any “visionary,” politically unencumbered way in an economic development leadership capacity.

    Mr. Mayor; please take some time and spare no expense in finding the right person for Bridgeport’s next economic development director. Look outside Connecticut. Perhaps on the West Coast, some place that is thriving through innovative thinking and that is far from Connecticut and it’s tainted/disabling regional politics.

    Treat the search for and the hiring of the next Bridgeport economic development director as an investment, not an expense. Look for someone with a reputation for creativity and brilliance in economic development, but someone who also has a reputation for being bold and politically savvy.

    Unfortunately, while we have many brilliant people in Bridgeport and the region who have the intelligence to handle this job, we shouldn’t fish in our troubled waters at this critical time for that special person. We need a fresh, bold unencumbered start in this most important area of Bridgeport municipal government.

  5. Ed Lavernoich is an excellent choice for the short-term transition. He is highly respected by those who work with the city. He has knowledge of the past that can help guide the future. He is a professional and he is politically astute. I think Ed’s heart is in the city and he is a good choice to step in. 🙂

    1. Steven Auerbach, I wholeheartedly agree; but he should be given the position permanently, not just for a transition period. He is experienced, a true professional and a gentleman. He’d be a genuine asset to Bridgeport, especially since he knows the players.

    1. Bob Walsh, do you ever have anything positive to say about anyone? Are you sure he was let go or did he leave of his own accord? Either way, he has the qualifications and experience to fill that position. The man is top-notch.

  6. I didn’t know Ed was no longer employed in Trumbull. I remember going to his party when he made the decision to leave. He’s the best and I hope he’s in consideration.

  7. I like Ed, the guy, and he does deserve to be considered, but I think even he would tell you he’s no visionary. He’s as nuts-and-bolts as it gets. He’s a perfect fit for the job he once held with the City, and it would be great for all if he were interested in taking the seat again under new circumstances. But at the end of the day, THIS position requires the ability to formulate a comprehensive plan. Ed has all the capacity to help execute said vision, but in my very humble opinion, he is not the right person to put it together.


Leave a Reply