President Barack Obama
recently announced a comprehensive plan of action to address climate
change and its far-reaching effects on our planet. This historic
announcement, which includes a plan to reduce carbon pollution, expand
energy efficiency initiatives and increase in renewable energy use,
holds promise for healthier lives for our residents and the growth of
Bridgeport's green businesses.
For far too long, members of Congress
and other national leaders who question the validity of climate change
have stood in the way of real progress on this issue. While Washington
remains in a partisan stalemate, Bridgeport has implemented innovative
strategies thanks to the leadership of Mayor Bill Finch
and his BGreen 2020 initiative. The resulting new policies and programs
address climate change on the local level, save residents money and
bring jobs to the Park City.
An excellent example of Mayor Finch's vision is the creation of
Bridgeport's new eco-industrial park, a growing center for green
businesses located in the South and West End neighborhoods of
Bridgeport. One of the earliest of these is Park City Green, founded by
my organization, Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises,
Inc. This new enterprise is a public/private partnership that has
already created seven jobs for Bridgeport residents. With the recent
passage of the Mattress Stewardship Program legislation, sponsored by
state Sen. Andres Ayala
and the Bridgeport delegation, the mattress recycling market in
Connecticut will be structured so that Park City Green will grow to its
full potential and hire as many as 25 employees. Our employees earn a
living wage for their families and participate in the economic
development of our city, while fighting climate change using sustainable
mattress deconstruction techniques.
Also in the eco-industrial park, you'll find Bridgeport Biodiesel,
which converts cooking grease into fuel; EnviroExpress, the only
Liquefied and Compressed Natural Gas filling station east of the
Mississippi; and Flexipave, which recycles tires into permeable
pavement. Long-standing businesses in the park include Santa Energy,
which distributes green fuels and installs energy conserving HVAC
systems, and RESCO, our waste-to-energy facility serving Bridgeport and
24 towns in Fairfield, Litchfied and New Haven counties.
As Mayor Finch has stated many times, "waste is a resource." The
eco-industrial park brings this statement to life, transforming the
waste stream into useful products through processes that create jobs,
and revitalize our city.
I am proud to be a part of the new green economy that we have created
in Bridgeport. Mayors like Bill Finch have known for years that
tackling climate change can be a catalyst for new jobs and new economic
opportunities like those we see every day at the eco-industrial park.
Now that President Obama is following the lead of mayors across the
country on this issue, I am hopeful that we will see even more green
businesses and jobs in Bridgeport and other American cities.
Adrienne Farrar Houël
is president and CEO of Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, a
nonprofit economic development corporation, and president of the board
of directors of Park City Green, the first mattresses recycling
operation licensed in the state of Connecticut. She currently serves as
chair of the Energy Improvement District of the city of Bridgeport.