OPINION COLUMNS

People are the strongest economic drivers

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, April 5, 2014

Passionate people make for the most pleasant, and easiest, interviews.

I ask a question or two and sit back while they responded. Their enthusiasm is evident in the details they share and the volume of content.

Erika Pedroza

Erika Pedroza

My only challenge is keeping pace with the information they spout out.

The new executive director of the Bridgeport Economic Development Corp., Sterling Flynn, is a prime example. He took over the post Monday, and when I asked what drew him to Bridgeport, the seasoned developer listed a variety of factors, rarely pausing to take a breath.

“When [the board] interviewed me, they asked, ‘Why Bridgeport? You’re from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you’ve worked with all these big cities like Arlingtown and Fort Worth.’,” Flynn said. “And I shot back, ‘Well, why not Bridgeport?’ … I see things as they could be instead of as they are. I drove into Bridgeport and saw opportunity.”

The possibilities include:

  • Downtown – “I think the downtown has tremendous opportunities,” he said. “It’s very concise, a manageable project. It has some real feasibility to get done and really become a shining star for the community.”
  • Business parks – “The EDC has half-a-dozen or more strategic business park-type opportunities that they’re working on already, besides the big one (Endeavor Bridgeport).”
  • The railroad – “Rail is a big part of opportunities here, so we’re strategically working with landowners and partnering, getting access to the rail to open up projects and make them really attractive.”
  • Lake Bridgeport – “I think the lake could be a big drawing card. Economic development, like any business, is people-oriented … Boeing was relocating their national headquarters, and Dallas-Fort Worth and all the major metropolitan areas were competing. Dallas didn’t make it. But one of the factors that determined them going to Chicago was that the CEO likes to sail, and Chicago has a lot of waterfronts.”
  • Location – “We’re within an hour of major metropolitan areas. You’ve got people that maybe are tired of traffic and the big hubbub of city life, yet they still have an entreprenural spirit, and they want to invest in places like Bridgeport.”

But the most compelling draw is the people – those involved with the EDC and the community in general.

“The board is a great group of people,” Flynn said. “Not only did their predecessors and whoever’s been on the board in the past make smart decisions, but I think this is a good group of people that will shepherd future efforts to fruition.”

The small-town atmosphere that enticed Flynn, who grew up in Canyon and attended high school in Portales, N.M., could also entice potential business owners.

“Everybody knows everybody, and you’re very involved in things,” Flynn said. “That has an appeal to even top executives who are looking for ways to be productive and may want to come out here and start a business. They could live on the lake, be a part of this community and have a business that is vital.

” … When you’re in a small town like this, you don’t have the national chains that dominate the landscape,” he continued. “You have the opportunity to create and do a lot more than you would in a run-on community like HEB (Hurst, Euless, Bedford) where you can’t even tell when you’re in one city or the next. When you come to Bridgeport, you know you’re in Bridgeport.”

To the list of Bridgeport’s advantages, add the newly-named leader of the EDC, who can capitalize on them to help the city continue to prosper.

Erika is a reporter for the Messenger.

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