Op-Ed: Bridgeport’s comeback driven by jobs, development, and clean energy
As mayor of our state’s largest city, it’s my job to make sure Bridgeport becomes an even better city than it is today – a place where our kids and grandkids will choose to live, work, and raise their families, too. That’s why I’ve been focused on boosting confidence in the Park City – so others will take note that Bridgeport is getting better every day.
This progress is already taking shape – the reopening of Pleasure Beach after years of neglect, breaking ground on Steelpointe Harbor after decades of broken promises, improving downtown, and building a second train station. These are just some of the projects bringing confidence back to the city while creating thousands of jobs.
Today, construction has finally begun at Steel Point, and Starbucks, Bass Pro, and Chipotle are all slated to open this fall. Once complete, the 52-acre peninsula will be home to high-quality housing, retail, hotels, a grocery store, and more. It will create thousands of jobs while adding tens of millions of dollars to our tax rolls.
Downtown Bridgeport is now home to hundreds of new apartments and several new businesses, as well as many companies that are moving back to the city. And, we’re making progress on the East Bridgeport Development Corridor, with the cornerstone of this revitalization project being Barnum Station. It will serve as our city’s second Metro-North stop and will be a catalyst for economic development in East Bridgeport.
Our city is also investing in its future by going green: creating green jobs and producing clean energy so our kids and grandkids will breathe easier. And preparing for the future starts with job creation. That’s why I set out to develop Eco-Technology Park. It’s all about encouraging green businesses to come here, thrive here, grow here, and most importantly, put more Bridgeporters to work here.
Eco-Technology Park is now home to dozens of green businesses, and our efforts there 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.
I’m proud to say that our city also is serving as a national model for producing clean energy. Home to North America’s largest fuel cell, Bridgeport produces enough clean energy to power 15,000 homes, reducing pollution and giving our kids cleaner air to breathe. And soon, we’ll be installing 9,000 solar panels and another fuel cell on top of an old and unused landfill, which will power an additional 5,000 Bridgeport homes.
By going green, we’re revitalizing run-down properties across the city. Several buildings that have been vacant and served as eyesores from I-95 for decades now 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 complete, this building and its neighbors will serve as home to hundreds of new jobs.
Our work to improve the city is having a real and positive impact on everyday Bridgeporters. After decades of neglect, more than 25,000 people were able to visit the newly re-opened Pleasure Beach. And we’re looking forward to another successful summer there. It’s like a little piece of Nantucket right here in Bridgeport.
My vision, Bridgeport’s vision – the vision for the Park City and its future – is taking shape. Today, you can stand on a white sandy beach of a re-opened Pleasure Beach and look out onto Steelpointe Harbor where development is finally happening. And there are new and improved views like this across the city, and many more to come.
It’s just another sign that Bridgeport is making a major comeback, and as a result, we’re getting better every day.
Bill Finch is the mayor of Bridgeport. He is also co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Task Force.
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