Economic Growth & Tax Relief
Strengthening Economic Development & Creating a Path to Lower Taxes
The City of Bridgeport needs NEW leadership that will work to ensure that economic opportunity is inclusive across the city and creates efficiencies that reduce taxes. John Gomes has not only been a strong advocate for community economics but has also been an accomplished business owner bringing a depth of understanding no other candidate can. John has the will and the backbone to end the pay-to-play culture that has dominated city politics and usher in a new era of economic vitality. Diversity in Economic Development is critical to the vibrancy of Bridgeport, and only a Gomes administration is prepared to bring a comprehensive plan that supports business growth and economic opportunities for all.
Our Multi-Pronged Approach
Implement a Bridgeport Jobs Action Plan
Which will incorporate a combination of public policy and economic development tools to attract 3,000 jobs to Bridgeport over the next four years across various industries. These skilled and well-paying jobs will boost the local economy, stabilize our tax base, reduce our tax burden, and spark an economic boom for small business owners. The small business community will consequently produce an additional estimated 1,000 retail and hospitality service sector jobs to complement this growth. Attracting companies and building upon industries such as cyber security, data warehousing, hospitality, clean energy, medical manufacturing, fintech, and digital media technologies will give Bridgeport a future to look forward to and align with the talent pool of a vibrant and diverse workforce.
Economic Gardening is a development strategy of working with existing companies with proven capacity and poised for regional and national growth that already call Bridgeport home. Past administrations have done little to promote our existing employers. Creating jobs by helping companies mature through reaching new customers, expanding into new markets, and helping to instill new frameworks for realized operational efficiencies that will produce sustainable new jobs right here in Bridgeport.
Partnerships with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and AdvanceCT.
Immediately advance partnerships with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and AdvanceCT. For too long, the City of Bridgeport has been ignored or simply overlooked by our State agencies when firms and larger corporations are seeking to expand or move into Connecticut. We will work with the state to properly position our assets such as our transportation infrastructure, deep water port, job talent pool, and workforce housing initiatives to attract companies to consider Bridgeport for its next big move. Bridgeport will become the focal point of economic growth in the state once we transition administrations and create confidence in our ability to deliver. We will be laser-focused to work with the state to identify opportunities, utilize State credits, and offer municipal-level incentives.
Municipal Incentives for Employers
Employers making a commitment to hiring locally and investing in local real estate, the city, in turn, will ensure a welcoming environment, promote workforce housing initiatives, champion state and local tax credits, and commit to funding workforce development and training initiatives to produce skilled local labor force. Other tools such as Tax Increment Increment Financing (TIF) Districts and zoning incentives will ensure that Bridgeport is showcased as a premier CT. hub for economic progress & business opportunities.
Reduce our Taxes, Improve Structured Tax Incentive Programs
With a clear vision, A Gomes administration is committed to immediately save the average household $300/yr with a goal of $650/yr savings by the end of our first term. By taking bold steps, utilizing best practices, embracing innovations, and sticking with this comprehensive economic development plan, we foresee a transparent government that improves the quality of life and creates opportunities that have alluded us for decades. A Gomes administration will increase the qualifying income for all seniors over 65 and any disabled individual who resides in Bridgeport improving the seniors tax relief program. Currently, the qualifying income is $58,000 per household. We would propose increasing it to $65,000 with a sliding scale, income from $0 to $50,000 will receive $1,500.00 and $50,001 to $65,000 of their total tax bill will receive $950.00. A Gomes administration will also institute a tax incentive program for teachers, police officers, and firefighters, looking to serve and take residence in the Park City. The program will offer down payment assistance grants and a reduction in real estate property taxes for those public servants wishing to call Bridgeport home.
Re-Assessment of the Permit Procurement Process in Bridgeport.
We truly have a flawed system that discourages economic growth and demonstrates systemic inequities. A Gomes administration will build an infrastructure of accountability for unnecessary delays in the process and the “red tape” currently in place in the permitting process. We will look to put together an advisory committee of builders, small business owners, and developers to assess our current processes, look at best practices, and update our policy and procedures to reflect a streamlined and efficient framework. The Gomes administration will empower and utilize the Planning and Zoning Commission as a resource to process complaints in the permitting system. This commission will help assure that businesses no longer lose time and money waiting on necessary permits due to outdated practices and a lack of accountability. This necessary overhaul will instill confidence and help shape a future culture of efficiency that grows our tax base.
Roll Out a Robust Housing Plan for Bridgeport
That incorporates affordability and actively assess blighted and vacant properties in our communities. We will seek to establish a Bridgeport Land Bank Authority to take possession of vacant and tax-delinquent parcels. Through the land bank, we will work with local social impact investors on infill and small-scale development projects that build new housing stock, create jobs, promote generational wealth, and reduce neighborhood blight. We will partner with local housing agencies and advocates to advance a real affordable housing plan that will produce 5,000 units of housing. We will establish an advisory board of local subject matter experts that reflect the needs of the community to help steer the vision. We will launch opportunities to incentivize property owners for improving lots and buildings which will increase the value of nearby properties and help restore consumer confidence in neighborhoods. After rehauling our permitting process, our affordable housing plan will be able to move exponentially forward to tackle this crisis that has not been dealt with by the current administration. Housing stability is a major component of rebuilding our neighborhoods and gives residents a sense of belonging to grow and thrive here in our city. A Gomes administration will lobby Hartford to push for impact fees on nearby towns not meeting its fair share of affordable housing and bring those dollars to fund Bridgeport-based housing developments for seniors, veterans, and families to create neighborhoods of choice.
Introduction of an Office of Arts & Tourism
To work diligently with all our key attractions, points of interest, park assets, and cultural festivals to communicate and market the beauty of Bridgeport. We will work on a robust plan to position the City as an attractive place to visit and explore boosting our local economies. Under the guidance of the planning and economic development office, the Office of Arts and Tourism will have a greater presence on Main Street through a Visitor's Welcome Center. By implementing a dedicated approach to tourism, we will encourage residents and visitors to park, walk, and explore our wonderful city. This comprehensive restructuring will expand partnerships, take advantage of underutilized state-funded resources, and drive a city-wide marketing and communication plan that benefits economic growth, promotes civic pride, and drives the emergence of the new Park City.
We Will Resurrect the Bridgeport Port Authority
Re-energize this vital deep-water gateway as a key economic asset for our state. We will work with the state authorities on advancing its deep-water port strategy and investing critical infrastructure dollars that will assure job growth, foreign and domestic trade, transportation, and other marine-centric uses such as the hydrogen fuel cell economy. This administration will seek to maximize its current foreign trade zone designation and seek growth opportunities with companies and sites that are presently served. We will also explore alternative transportation options that can be sustainable from Bridgeport Harbor. This administration will seek every opportunity to advance exports from our port as a principal economic driver and opportunity for growth. Although we import stone, gravel, sand, gasoline, and other materials, our exporting revenues are non-existent. It is time we re-imagine our relationship with our waterways and declare our port “OPEN” for investment. The redevelopment of the former PSEG coal plant will be a top priority. We envision a wonderful waterfront promenade complete with a hotel, major league soccer stadium, housing, shops/cafes, and marine industry uses that fortify Bridgeport as the “Port City” eliminating environmental injustices and turning the keys to our economic engine that is Bridgeport Harbor.
Re-Establish the Bridgeport Parking Authority
To improve the management of parking assets and respond to the needs of the small business community in our key commercial corridors. This move with immediately free up precious police resources that are currently misappropriated running the City’s parking division. As an economic development tool, this revised management structure will improve operations, expand the City’s ability to implement municipal lots, and earmark dollars to support key projects that promote economic revitalization rather than penalize potential growth opportunities. A free shuttle bus loop downtown will be introduced to increase mobility and jumpstart our local economy by linking our attractions to the downtown businesses. For too long, this City has mismanaged our parking infrastructure through parking enforcement and discouraging residents and visitors alike. The Bridgeport Parking Authority will be a true partner, improving way-finding, funding necessary upgrades, and reimagining how we welcome patrons into our city. A Gomes administration will also introduce free parking for city residents on labeled streets downtown through the same sticker program utilized by our park systems. One Price, One Sticker, for all Bridgeport registered vehicles.
Supporting Neighborhood Revitalization Zones (NRZ’s) with Annual Budgets
To improve our neighborhood districts. The Gomes Administration is committed to earmarking $400,000 annually to be distributed equally to our eight member NRZ’s to spend on community development projects in support of their local revitalization plans. Participatory budgeting is a key trait of a transparent process, and this financial support will put the power in the arms of the people who love their community most. NRZ’s have been instrumental in highlighting priorities that improve the quality of life in those neighborhoods. With the addition of consistent funding and the support of the economic development staff, the Gomes administration will be eager to see the amazing return on investment possible through this collaborative effort.
Launch a Commercial Tenant Improvement Program for Small Business Owners.
A Gomes administration will value the local community impact and the sacrifices small business owners make every day. As pillars in the community, we must invest in the success of our small business owners. By reducing barriers to entry, we not only give business owners confidence, but we also reduce their burden and improve the community as well. Vacant blighted storefronts should not dominate our neighborhoods. A Gomes administration will establish a matching fund to assist small business owners with necessary tenant improvements to real estate relative to the nature of business implied in the lease. We will work with property owners to assist the tenants with those improvements and look for opportunities for small business owners to own their business property within the neighborhoods they serve. We will provide a true community development approach that improves our distressed neighborhoods and brings the necessary amenities and services that attract future investments. The Commercial Tenant Improvement Program will also incentivize business owners to hire local youth to learn real-life transferable skills and help them develop for the future. These incentives will promote stability and much-needed resources for our small business community.
Deliver a Gigabit Fiber Ethernet Municipal Experience to Support Economic Growth
It is proven that in our age of technology where the transport of data is king, cities that offer a robust Gigabit connectivity network have grown exponentially over the last decade. A Gomes administration will explore a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to rapidly expand the city of Bridgeport to the latest standards of gigabit ethernet to promote business growth and attract employers in alignment with the jobs action plan. We will invest in a fiber network that establishes Bridgeport as a Northeast leader in Innovation and Technology attracting key industries to choose Bridgeport for expansion and growth. Just like we invest $30 Million on bridges and other key infrastructure, Bridgeport needs to invest in its digital infrastructure to attract good-paying jobs and the companies that will transform our city over the next decade. A Gomes administration will deliver on fiber internet for all, reducing the digital divide locally, and improving access to education and economic opportunities, while sparking catalytic change.
Reduce Land Speculation and Loss of Tax Revenues by Introducing a New Ordinance.
This ordinance will reduce the number of empty lots and the use of “contractor yards” in residential neighborhoods by implementing an “impact fee” based on local infrastructure improvements. Taxpayers currently incur financial costs maintaining sewer/water, utilities, emergency & public safety standards, as well as transit infrastructure so that all raw land can benefit. However, that value created is not captured if zero development occurs on the raw land in the form of structures on that land. The ordinance will target property owners of vacant land of three years or more without indicating any future use to the City through our Zoning and Planning Commission. The impact fees collected will go to an affordable housing fund to support housing developments while the fee plus the property taxes should help discourage land speculation in our City. This policy will drive infill and small-scale development needed to revitalize our communities while reducing blight and promoting civic pride.
Zoning Regulations Review
The Gomes administration will do a thorough review of the newly adopted Zoning Code and Regulations which seems to have benefitted specific projects intentionally and have not expanded density in key opportunity areas. It appears the code may have compromised the economic expansion of our waterfront and other key commercial corridors. It is not a coincidence that North End residents are faced with a dense housing project that requires no public hearing at the former Testo’s catering facility. These zoning changes also cleared the path for the city’s only hotel to be converted to residential without a change of use hearing and public input. This administration's failures in promoting solid zoning reform have also sabotaged over 300 potential jobs in the Vinyard Wind project that was proposed for Barnum Landing by removing its industrial use designation. Zoning is one of the few municipal powers that can create or destroy opportunities for growing our tax base and we need to revisit and address these zoning mishaps. Through good governance, data-driven decision-making, and community inspired projects, the zoning code will become our tool to deliver tax base growth, much needed housing, and incremental opportunities for local impact investors to thrive.
In summary, there are no clear answers or policy initiatives that can cure decades of mismanaged assets and failed infrastructure improvements such as the Congress Street Bridge. Due to a lack of vision, accountability, and care for the people of Bridgeport this administration has inflated many problems that has created barriers and closed windows of opportunity for the City of Bridgeport to revitalize. We need a mayor for all people, We need John Gomes who will put together a strong team of civic leaders and practitioners to mobilize a cohesive plan for the City that finally captures a return on citizen’s investment of time, tax dollars, and faith in a welcoming Bridgeport designed for the diverse people of this city. Go with Gomes in 2023!