Fronting center stage at the Hartford Healthcare Amphitheater in front of more than 300 community stakeholders, Mayor Joe Ganim on Wednesday resumed his annual address to the business community that was Covid-delayed for two years.
The presentation opened with a video, see above, highlighting city resilience during the pandemic and transition to stronger economic footing.
Highlights from Ganim’s address provided by mayor’s office:
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN FUNDING FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND CITYWIDE RECOVERY:
— The city’s obligation to put funds provided by the American Rescue Plan to work:< o 400 local businesses awarded grants totaling over $5 million.
o Investments in resources to address food insecurity, second chance opportunities, learning deficits caused by the pandemic, and homelessness.
o In partnership with the Board of Education over $30 million dollars allocated to non-profits helping our vulnerable residents and young people:
o Programs like Caribe Youth Leaders, Color A Positive Thought, and Wakeman Boys and Girls Club–meaningful opportunities, enrichment outside of the classroom.
Ganim wrapped this portion of the address related to recovery by stating, “As we look to put the pandemic into the rearview mirror, I am proud to say that Bridgeport is on the Move, the state of our city is Strong, and Bridgeport is stronger and more vibrant than ever before.”
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS COMPLETED AND IN THE WORKS:
· With arts, music and entertainment venues throughout the city, Bridgeport has become the Music Mecca and entertainment Capital of Connecticut.
· The amphitheater has attracted over 200,000 people this year alone.
· Bridgeport will host Sound on Sound to draw 30 thousand people.
· Bridgeport Landing Development to develop 400 waterfront units and a new hotel.
· Bridgeport’s waterfront is now home to these businesses on Bridgeport Harbor:
o Bridgeport Boatworks, operating a marine servicing facility.
o Hornblower Group, an international manufacturer of ferries and cruise ships.
o North Sails, the largest sail manufacturer in the world at Steelpointe.
— Stratford Avenue features Honey Locust Square anchored with a new library.
o Under construction is a 35,000 sq. ft. retail plaza, featuring a grocery store, Health Care facility, jazz club, bakery, and police substation.
Ganim then featured housing, “Bridgeport has seen a higher-than-average growth in population compared to the rest of the state. I am pleased to report that there is a substantial amount of investment happening throughout the city to address this housing need.”
HOUSING AND RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS:
— Primrose Construction, to build 100 residential units with retail and parking.
— East-pointe Development and Spinnaker at Canfield Park with 300 residential units.
— Cherry Street Lofts continues to expand on the West End.
— Jason Newfield added substantial housing units downtown.
— JHM mixed income developments in the South End, formerly Marina Village. The site, now Windward Commons, is a reinvention of public housing to improve quality of life.
— PLUS, the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club being constructed on the North End, a $19 million investment that will open as a 44 thousand sq. ft. center for youth next year.
“As we talk about this transformation from our industrial past to a vibrant urban center it’s important to consider what comes next,” continued Ganim.
ON THE HORIZON:
— The City is working with PSEG to rid the property of the former coal plant and reclaim 30 acres on the waterfront for future development in Bridgeport Harbor.
— The other major development to have a significant regional impact is Sikorsky Airport.
o The State of CT will acquire Sikorsky for $10 million, and the city will no longer have to invest local money into the facility.
o The State plans to make investments in a passenger terminal, runway, and infrastructure to bring commercial service back to Sikorsky Airport to attract businesses and provide flights to destinations throughout the country.
“As we take the long view, these are the kinds of projects on the horizon that my administration is working on that will be the next round of game-changers.” Ganim continued his address, “We have also been focused on addressing “quality of life” issues that most affect our communities.”
EDUCATION, COMMUNITY, and CITY OPERATIONS
— Construction of a new Bassick High School adjacent to UB campus brings a unique partnership for transitioning students into higher learning.
— Bridgeport Public Schools experienced commitment to universal pre-K and an increased number of students going onto college.
— The Board of Education now undergoing a process to hire a new Superintendent.
— The City is near the end of the process with the IACP to select a Chief of Police.
— The City planning $10 million for the largest road paving program in history.
— The City continues to maintain balanced budgets and holding the line on taxes.
— Substantially reduced the mil rate.
— Commitments to fiscal stability, earned the City of Bridgeport its first ever A+ bond rating which will help us save millions of dollars for capital projects over the next 20 years.
Ganim closed, “I have never felt so optimistic about the City’s future. There’s a new buzz in Bridgeport. Bridgeport is on the move!”