Rowan Kane

@rlmkane

An open letter to Jeff Bezos

September 8th 2017

Dear Mr. Bezos,

In case you missed it, MarketWatch has done some homework for you and narrowed down potential homes for #AmazonHQ2. Of the 11 that fit the your criteria, one city is probably an underdog. Mine. Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Bridgeport hasn’t always been the underdog. In 1901, two years before Orville and Wilbur Wright took to the air at Kitty Hawk, a German immigrant to Bridgeport named Gustave Whitehead flew further and higher. In the 1930’s, we had over 500 factories making everything from corsets to rifle cartridges. It was said you could quit your job in the morning walk across town and have a new job by lunch.

For a while, industry begat industry and another immigrant and aviation pioneer, Igor Sikorsky, came to the area to develop the helicopter. But then, as is the story of so many engines of the American economy, Bridgeport fell on hard times. With the exception of Sikorsky, which recently committed to build its helicopters here for decades, and a few others, industry has left Bridgeport. In its wake are too many empty factories and too few well-paying jobs. Underfunded public schools, subpar political leadership and budget crises followed soon thereafter.

But here’s the thing, despite what folks from the leafy suburbs and even some of our fellow Bridgeporters might think, this city has a future. It goes far beyond the fact that we’re a train ride away from New York, Boston or D.C. Or that within 30 minutes you can be on the campus of over a dozen colleges and universities, including Yale and UConn as well as our very own University of Bridgeport and Sacred Heart University. Or even that tech companies, like indeed.com and Datto that have already planted their roots in the area. And what it comes down to is the people. As a friend of mine and native Bridgeporter says, “There is genius in these streets!” (Thanks, Kyle). Bridgeport is the most populous city in the most educated state in the country. Our diversity of heritage and experience and thought is not just unique, it is the foundation of the American experiment.

Make no mistake, our city and our state, both with economies that seem stuck in the mud, have begun to reinvent themselves. Biotech and aerospace companies have already invested in Connecticut and I do not have to tell you, Mr. Bezos, that companies like that and like yours are the future of our economy. As a millennial who has lived and traveled all over the world, I have never seen a place that has more potential greatness than Bridgeport, Connecticut. Our streets once hummed with an energy that powered technology and industry forward. Driving through downtown, you can still feel that energy in the air. We are a city that knows its history, knows what it can be and is impatient to remake itself anew.

So, Mr. Bezos, come to Bridgeport. We’ll show you around, maybe grab a bowl of pho at Pho Saigon or some Brazilian assado at Pantanal and you’ll see everything Bridgeport has to offer.

Sincerely,

A Proud Bridgeporter & Nutmegger

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