The Bridgeport Regional Business Council (BRBC) held its 2022 Annual Meeting and Luncheon on June 21 at the Knowlton Boathouse in Bridgeport, overlooking the Pequonnock River. The theme of the meeting was “Arts, Culture and Tourism as an Economic Driver”, and the adjacent Armstrong Gallery was the site of an exhibitor showcase centered on businesses and organizations connected to the theme. – this included Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Discovery Science Center, The Entrepreneurship Foundation, Magnolia Chocolatier, and Bradley International Airport, among others.
Dan Onofrio, BRBC President and CEO, greeted guests as they enjoyed a buffet lunch.
“I love this job – it’s the hardest I’ve ever had but I love it,” Onofrio told the gathered crowd as he kicked off the program.
In addition to a few procedural votes to appoint new directors, Paul Antonozzi of Antonozzi and Associates was honored with a lifetime achievement award for his longstanding support of the BRBC and the contributions of his architectural firm. . A short video of BRBC members remembering his hard work and dedication was released, highlighting his work with many members of the business community in the region.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim was unable to attend, citing he felt unwell, and keynote speaker Noelle Stevenson, the new director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism, was recovering from an injury and could not deliver his remarks. Stevenson sent a recorded message and asked Jill Adams, CEO of Avon-based public relations firm Adams & Knight, to share the Tourism Board’s new advertising campaign with attendees.
“Thank you for asking me to address the Regional Business Council Annual Meeting,” Stevenson said in a recorded message. “I am disappointed that I cannot be there with you in person while I am still recovering. That said, I was delighted to hear that you are focusing your annual meeting on tremendous cultural tourism opportunities in the region. of Bridgeport.
Stevenson also praised Bridgeport’s efforts to become a “musical mecca.”
“There is definitely a new buzz in this area,” Stevenson continued, “and I echo your enthusiasm for leveraging our incredible music offerings to bring more visitors to Bridgeport. cultural initiatives is to expand our efforts to attract music festivals to Connecticut and Bridgeport is by far a key example of an extremely desirable footprint.
“I hope I can only reflect a fraction of the enthusiasm of the Office of Tourism around this new vision that Noelle mentioned,” said Adams as he took the stage.
The new campaign portrays Connecticut as the place to “Find Your Vibe.” Citing a recent economic impact study that found arts and culture tourism generates approximately $15.5 billion in annual sales, Adams reminded attendees “it’s business that happens to the people in this room. “.
Adams also pointed out that the same data showed that tourism brings the state about $2.2 billion in tax revenue each year and supports 147,000 jobs. To support this important industry, the Tourist Board is revamping CTVisit.com and rolling out an advertising campaign that will eventually expand to reach not only regional visitors, but also people across the country and overseas.
The new campaign will focus on adrenaline junkies, outdoor enthusiasts, multicultural events and members of the LGBTQ community – demographics the Tourist Board has identified as having major growth potential.
“We are too often known as quiet, white and destitute,” Adams said, expressing hope that the new campaign will banish this outdated perception of the state.