Gov. Dannel P. Malloy isn’t shy about leaning heavily on his experience and relationships he built as Mayor of Stamford and his latest nomination is just further proof he draws often on his tenure there.
On Thursday afternoon Malloy named Christopher ‘Kip’ Bergstrom as executive director of the commission on Culture and tourism. Bergstrom currently is the executive director of the Stamford Urban Redevelopment commission, he also served as Stamford’s first economic development director from 1993 to 1998.
According to the press release Bergstrom, played a lead role in getting corporations to locate their headquarters there and in his new role will help brand the state’s tourist and cultural destinations.
Bergstrom replaces Karen Senich, who served in the role for two years during former Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration. Malloy accepted Senich’s resignation earlier this month.
Bergstrom will be paid $20,000 more than Senich, who made $110,000 and was given no money with which to help market Connecticut.
On the campaign trail Malloy promised to spend $15 million on advertising and marketing but before Bergstrom gets a hold of that money the legislature will have to approve it.
“We made a gigantic mistake in my opinion of doing what we’ve been doing over the past couple of years in cutting back, cutting back, and cutting back with respect to culture and tourism,” Malloy said. “It’s going to take us a few years to undo that damage unfortunately.”
Malloy said Bergstrom will be in charge of pulling together some strategic partners, such as the casinos and hoteliers, who will help contribute money toward the production of a Connecticut television advertisement that he hopes will go up on the air before July 1.
Asked if he would appear in the ads, like former Gov. John G. Rowland and his wife Patty did, Malloy quipped: “How’s my profile.”
Asked again he said appearing in the ads is not appealing to him.
Malloy touted the state’s ability to develop what he termed “historic tourism,” to help tell the story of the state’s role in everything from the Revolutionary War to the women’s revolution.
Bergstrom stepped in and corrected him by telling him the term of art for that type of tourism is “geo tourism,” where visitors are attracted to a destination based on its history, arts, and culture. He said “geo tourism” sells an experience through storytelling and gets visitors to then re-tell their story to others.
The executive director of Culture and Tourism position under Malloy’s proposal will be consolidated with the Department of Economic and Community Development. Bergstrom will have additional responsibilities under that department according to the press release.