The Bridgeport News
by Jeff Toquinto, NEWS EDITOR
BRIDGEPORT (Thursday, July 25, 2002)
City Manager Kim Haws was in Charleston Monday helping make Bridgeport’s pitch to acquire $15.5 million from a state economic development committee.
Haws said he was one of several state government-development groups making the trek to the capital to discuss applications for a cut of a $200 million economic development pie. The one-time funding pool was created this year in the Legislature and will be doled out by a economic development committee to projects resulting in economic development.
Getting the money won’t be easy. Already, $70 million has been appropriated for a project in Wheeling, while the committee received more than 190 applications totaling more than $1 billion from across the state for the final $130 million.
Even with the competition for the funds fierce, Haws said he believes Bridgeport is in good shape to receive serious consideration for its two grants that will be targeted for the Charles Pointe Development. The money will be used for much-needed infrastructure on a portion of the 2,000-acre development.
Haws was joined by representatives of Genesis Partners (the Charles Pointe developers) and several of the marketing and financial experts that Genesis has brought in for the project. He said the meeting between a portion of the economic committee and the Charles Pointe team went well.
"The committee broke into two groups to hear the proposals, but even though only half of the committee heard our presentation, I think they were impressed," said Haws. "I think we’ll make it to the next level pretty easily…It was a favorable experience and they knew about our project."
As for what the next level entails, Haws isn’t sure. He said staffers in Charleston indicated it will involve more intense interviews with the entire committee.
"How it washes out in the end is something I have no idea about," said Haws. ‘But, I have a lot of confidence this project meets every requirement of this committee."
Haws’ confidence stems from the planning involved at Charles Pointe. Haws said the majority of the projects the committee will review have been brought up within the last few months and don’t have the benefit of long-term planning.
"Charles Pointe has been in the planning stages for more than 10 years and it’s been part of the city’s comprehensive planning for the last four years," said Haws. "… This is a perfect example, and perhaps the best example, I’ve ever seen of a public-private partnership where the city isn’t being used. We have actual involvement and input on decision-making and design. We’re a true partner in a group whose goal has been economic development and that, I think, is the key issue in the intent of these grants."
If the city’s project makes it to the final stages, Haws is hoping the economic development team will make a trip to Bridgeport to see the Charles Pointe site. In fact, he’s already asked the committee to come.
"I would be disappointed if, once they pared down the list, they didn’t come here and see exactly what we’re talking about," said Haws.