TIMPANELLI TOPICS - Issue 2016-10
You'll find in this, my last Timpanelli Topics for the BRBC, the latest digital update to our Quarterly Review of Economic Development, The QR. This is Volume 10 and it is a fine example of the positive and exciting economic development story of the Bridgeport Region.
A story that I have devoted a good portion of my life to.
After 28 years as Chief Executive Officer of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, I am now ready to embark on yet another new path - the next stage of what has so far been extremely satisfying career path. I have been exceptionally fortunate since graduating from Sacred Heart University in 1969 to be able to enjoy the five different rewarding paths that I have chosen - first as a middle school teacher, then as Town Clerk and First Selectman of the Town of Trumbull, a partner in a real estate appraisal company, and since 1988, as the President & CEO of the BRBC.
Over those employment years, I can honestly say that I have never not wanted to get up in the morning to "go to work". As a matter of fact, what clearly made it easy for me is that I've never felt as though I was "going to work". I was just going to do what I have loved doing. I am thankful that I have been so fortunate.
In 1988, when the leadership of the BRBC honored me by asking me to be the BRBC's CEO, I was given a clear direction by the Board of Directors.
My job wasn't to build the best Chamber of Commerce, it wasn't to create the biggest business association, and it wasn't to develop a program of work that was typical of successful Chambers of Commerce. No, their directive to me was a lot more challenging than what is typically asked of Chamber leaders.
As a result of what BRBC leadership defined as my strengths as I took on the role of CEO, I was asked to concentrate the organization's efforts on specific objectives with the overall goal being the long-term economic development of our region's central city and building regional support and recognition for that development.
BRBC Board objectives included:
1. Play a role in improving City management in Bridgeport. As a result, the BRBC raised a $1 million and invested it in a comprehensive management review of city operations and, at that time, we achieved measurable results that are still in place today;
2. Play a role in the improvement of the City's financial condition. The BRBC's role led to a number of years of relatively stable taxes. We then raised another $1 million and invested it in a management review of the school budget which has resulted in over $13 million a year in identified efficiencies, some of which were implemented by the school Board;
3. Build an economic development vision and plan. We see the results today, after working with five city administrations, the significant physical change and investment across the city landscape;
4. Build political consensus around the City in support of an economic development agenda. BRBC effort in this arena has resulted in significant investment to rebuild infrastructure, buy and clean up property and invest in development;
5. Bring in public investment. Over $1 billion in public investment has occurred here partially as a result of our efforts and in support for the City's vision;
6. Work for measurable private investment in the region's central City. This was perhaps our most important objective. And, we are now witnessing the positive results of initiatives the BRBC has played a leadership role in achieving.
As I now look out the window of the BRBC's 14th floor offices in downtown Bridgeport, I see an improved cityscape.
28 years ago, that view was obstructed by 3 crumbling factory buildings on the site of what is now a game-changing sports and entertainment complex that draws a million people a year to Bridgeport; it was obstructed by a dormant power plant and 40 derelict buildings on the site of what is now a bustling Bass Pro Shops 155,000 sq. ft. store and more; it was obstructed by an abandoned railroad line that now is home to a new bus station, intermodal facility and commuter garage; it was obstructed by a an abandoned former steel mill that is now the site of a ship building site; it was obstructed by a boarded up bank building and a boarded up department store, both of which are now fully occupied and housing almost 200 units of residential apartments; and, it was obstructed by a boarded up retail mall that is now the site of a bustling, highly successful community college. And, as I look further toward the horizon, I see our "Eco-Technology Park" where we have recruited eight new businesses and developed over 400 new job opportunities, and markedly are changing the image of the central city.
Yes, the view has changed dramatically, but more important the jobs and economic development environment has improved dramatically.
My charge when I started this role was to create a business membership organization that would play a role in improving the economic development environment in our region's central city.
Over that period, the central city has achieved more than $3 billion in public and private capital investment and we have seen the creation or retention of 27,000 job opportunities.
As to whether or not I (and an amazing team of some 100 or so different BRBC staff players over the years) have achieved the objectives the BRBC Board of Directors set for our organization, I leave that answer up to you.
I can tell you the following for sure - we worked hard at it.
We faced the many challenges that the City of Bridgeport presented head on - focusing on the mission assigned to me by our leadership and membership in a way that enabled theBridgeport Regional Business Council to be a player in our quest to improve the lives of people in our region.
I leave confident in the future of this City and this Region. We have good bones and good people. Sure, we continue to have challenges and surely must do a better job at solidifying the forces in the city and region around a common agenda.
And, clearly we must continue to do a better job at reducing the fragmentation that seems to permeate our environment. We don't seem to have adequately learned that by working together, listening to each other, and respecting each other, we could make much more progress much more quickly.
If there was only one bit of advice I can offer my successor it would be to work harder and focus at creating unity around a common vision.
So, as I transition away from the position that I have been so honored to occupy over these 28 years, I thought I would leave our membership a list - in no particular order of priority - of the 28 most important things that I have learned over that period.
All my best to my friends, colleagues and business associates who will carry the good fight forward!
28 Lessons as a 28 Year Chamber of Commerce Executive - What it takes to Succeed and Sustain
1. Ethics and values are the foundation - Nothing else matters without this
2. Have a Vision - See the future and know how to get there
3. Balance in Life - Critical part of ability to lead
4. The world is run by those that show up - You must be at the party and the wake
5. Speak only when you have something to say - We too often like to hear ourselves talk
6. Who do you know - Corporate CEO's, politicians, community leaders, entrepreneurs. Network!
7. Life in a fishbowl - Accept it, embrace it, let it work for you
8. Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you -Strengthen your shortcomings with a team of great people
9. Don't let the bastards get you down-Illegitimus Carborundum. Try not to pay too much attention to negativism.
10. Anger, jealousy, prejudice, etc. sap energy-Negative influences should not influence your day
11. Persistence helps you win-Tough environments require toughing it out
12. Don't sweat the small stuff-Delegate, remain in the big picture
13. The Big Picture - Somebody has to do it, so take it on, no one else will
14. Singles, doubles, triples and home runs are all important to winning - Redevelopment, redefinition, recreation requires comprehensive, integrated planning, no one thing will create nirvana
15. Optimism rules - Always look ahead, never backward and maintain a positive attitude
16. Disappointment is the cradle of ambition - Defeats are lessons that enable rethinking and re-visioning
17. Leaders and you - Get to know the movers and shakers
18. Motivate and inspire - Serve as an example to those that will support your vision
19. Capacity to influence - To lead requires respect and support
20. Constructive thinking is the elevator to success - Allow your ideas to motivate and inspire
21. No problems, just solutions - Success requires those around you to think creatively and forcefully
22. If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing - A leader needs to recognize the value in others, to build a strong support network
23. Who doesn't like me as a measurement for success - You need to sometimes measure your success by those that don't like you
24. Membership for membership sake is a mistake - The value of your membership organization is about your mission, not building your membership
25. Failure by Fragmentation - A leader builds coalitions and decreases fragmentation
26. There's something in the water, are we or are we not unique - A difficult environment is not unique environment
27. Building walls prevents opportunity - Inclusiveness and diversity are strengthening
28. Honesty remains the best policy - In all that you do, honesty in your dealings will always bring rewards
See you around!
Paul S. Timpanelli
President and CEO
Bridgeport Regional Business Council