Paul Timpanelli’s nearly 30-year run as president and chief executive officer of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council comes to an end in a few months. In an eblast letter to his business community constituency he shares “with pride our involvement in the incredible change that has taken place over that 25 year period.” The former three-term Democratic First Selectman of Trumbull lists development “progress that is made as a result of our work in partnership with the city and the state to improve the city’s preparedness for economic growth.”
Those of you among our member businesses who have had the opportunity to visit our offices at 10 Middle Street on the 14th floor know that the BRBC is fortunate to have a wonderful view overlooking the heart of the City of Bridgeport.
Even though we have been at this location for over 25 years, we still marvel that from this vantage point we are able to see Bridgeport’s vast potential, as well as recognize the connection that the region has to the central city.
I vividly recall when the leadership of the BRBC made the strategic decision to relocate our offices here. It was done in recognition of the economic development driven mission that was adopted for our business association back in the late eighties.
Recognizing that the central city was the core of the region, this particular view of Bridgeport allows us to visually witness the progress that is made as a result of our work in partnership with the city and the state to improve the city’s preparedness for economic growth.
Indeed, with every visit to 10 Middle Street, BRBC member investors and partners get to view the BRBC’s mission to create an environment for economic growth blossom right before their eyes.
Today, as we look out our windows overlooking the core of the city and the region, we can share with pride our involvement in the incredible change that has taken place over that 25 year period:
— The I-95 corridor has been completely rebuilt and upgraded as a result of a series of meetings that were hosted by the BRBC in our Conference Room that overlooks the corridor;
— The old railroad corridor viaduct that traversed the downtown has been completely removed and replaced with our new intermodal connection, a new bus terminal, a new parking garage and a new streetscape leading out of the downtown which resulted from the BRBC convening the right parties and assisting in gaining the resources necessary to make these investments;
— The site of the former steel mill that sat abandoned and burned out for over 20 years on the junction of Seaview Avenue and 1-95 was removed and a shipbuilding industry (which has since left) was recruited to replace it;
— The former UI power plant at the SteelPointe peninsula was demolished as were 50 derelict properties surrounding it. With over $20 million in public money invested, we are now witness to the long-awaited development of “Bridgeport Landing” with a new 155,000 sq. ft. Bass Pro Shop, a Chipotle Grill, T-Mobile shop and Starbucks;
— A new hotel, a theater complex, and the first 250 units of housing are now underway on the SteelePointe peninsula. All of this would not have happened if it were not for the initial $100,000 investment that the BRBC made in analyzing the development potential of the property;
— Not long ago, three old and abandoned factory buildings were derelict on the site that now houses the Bridgeport Bluefish and the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. These developments were enabled and supported as a result of the BRBC’s engagement, leadership and funding of critical initiatives necessary for the development;
— The former Read’s building, City Trust building and the arcade in the downtown would not have been completely revitalized and reoccupied without the BRBC/BEDCO role in enabling their redevelopment;
–The relocation of Housatonic Community College in the downtown would not have occurred without the BRBC’s engagement and funding of the lobby support that enabled the development;
— The funds made available to over 50 redevelopment projects in the city over the last 20 years would not have happened if it were not for the BRBC’s leadership in creating a $125 million development fund in support of Bridgeport in the mid-nineties;
— The new “Eco-Technology Park” that has, thus far, resulted in eight new Bridgeport businesses, 400 new job opportunities, and four renewable energy projects would not have happened if it were not for the role played by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. All these elements will significantly lower the city’s carbon footprint and put the city at the forefront in green technology. These are but a few examples of the things that we, as a business membership association, have impacted.
These are all examples of initiatives that have resulted in the fulfillment of our core mission–jobs growth. And, while we certainly don’t take full credit for any of this, we do clearly state that we have played a pivotal role.
I have chosen to raise this topic for two reasons. First, some state that the BRBC is guilty of concentrating on large projects only and, as a result, neglects the needs of small business. Those that may take this position are mistaken.
Over 80% of the BRBC’s membership is made up of small businesses and we serve their needs every day. As a specific example of our support, over 50 regional “small businesses” have taken advantage of the state’s Business Express program, which would not have happened in 2012 without the engagement and support of the statewide business associations of which we are an integral part. And, most important, our work over the last 25 years has resulted in the retention, creation, or opportunity to develop over 27,000 jobs.
Jobs retention and creation results in the most important benefit that could ever occur for our small businesses–the creation of customers, clients and potential employees. Without customers and clients, small business could not exist. And, without those potential customers and clients having jobs, those small businesses could not grow.
So, the provision of opportunities for jobs is the most important work that we can do for the benefit of small businesses.
In next month’s column, I will demonstrate the viability of the 27,000 jobs number for our readers.
But, in the meantime, I remind our readers of the impact of jobs.
For every 100 jobs created the results on average are:
$5.5 million in new personal income
$2.5 million in added bank deposits
$150,000 in new property taxes
$2 million in added retail sales
$1.5 million in added durable goods sales
Does this economic growth benefit small business? You bet it does.
The second reason why I raise this topic now is, I have recently announced that I will be leaving the BRBC at the end of the summer.
As a result, I would like to spend the next three remaining Timpanelli Topics expounding on some of the initiatives I reported on above as well as sharing my thoughts on what I see ahead for regional economic development.
As a region, we have much to look forward to. But, the promise ahead, comes with commitment and hard work–responsibilities the BRBC is very familiar with.