Top mayoral candidates discuss business and the city’s economy

By AARON NICODEMUS, Standard-Times staff writer
This article appeared on September 26, 2005 in the Standard Times
NEW BEDFORD — Steering the city’s economy is a crucial part of any mayor’s job. There are ways to keep businesses here, giving them what they need to grow and prosper, while attracting new businesses. Each of the five major mayoral candidates was asked what he would do to improve the city’s economy should he be elected mayor.

Right now, New Bedford does not make a very positive impression on businesses considering a move here, he said. “We have to get our house in order. Right now, we don’t make a very good appeal.”

So he said he would initially focus on the jobs the city already has.

“You have to be proactive,” Mr. Lang said of creating jobs and keeping the economy healthy. “You cannot allow an employer like Brittany Dye to have its workers on strike for months. The city needs to step in and have both sides sit down with a mediator and settle a contract.”

If the city gets wind of a plan to sell a business like Sunbeam Bread and move it out of state, the city has to act, he said.

“You’ve got to keep the conglomerate from buying the factory to close it down,” he said. “You’ve got to do everything you can to save those jobs.”

The fishing industry, the city’s biggest industry, is being neglected by the current administration, he said. Much-needed repairs to South Terminal are not being done, and fishing boat owners are crying out for more berthing space.

“And instead of working with them, the mayor has thrown up obstacle after obstacle.”

Mr. Lang said he will not be the kind of mayor who cheers when Fall River gets an employer who brings 600 jobs.

“I’m going to be the kind of mayor who announces that 600 jobs are coming to New Bedford, and let Fall River cheer for us. I’m going to be very aggressive on job creation,” he said.