This week Mayor Jon Mitchell declared New Bedford is a "real city," and challenged residents and the rest of the world to recognize that.

In announcing plans to expand flight service to and from the New Bedford Regional Airport Mitchell said it will attract more visitors and businesses to the city and make New Bedford stand out as a major metropolitan area.  Mitchell says, "New Bedford is not just another community along the southern coast of Massachusetts."  He says New Bedford "is a real city with a real metropolitan area, with suburbs and real economic assets."

Mitchell's view of New Bedford should be applauded and should serve as a call to action for current and future city leaders. The "vision thing," as George H.W. Bush coined it is a good and positive thing.  Let's be clear however, Mitchell's vision for New Bedford is seeded in the efforts of other visionaries such Jack Markey, John Bullard,  Rosemary Tierney, Fred Kalisz and Scott Lang.   Each of these former Mayor's contributed to the renaissance that has seen the downtown area go from a nest of seedy bars and dirt piles to what it is today.

There is certainly much more to do to make New Bedford a "first class" city but make no mistake we are on the way.  The commitment to the downtown area must be made in the neighborhoods as well.  Tight budgets, bad media coverage and some tough luck have made the journey slow at times.  But, so has an attitude of self-loathing and self-doubt.

New Bedford is a stand alone city.  We are not a satellite of some larger metropolitan entity.  We are the center of the universe in this region and should view ourselves as such.   New Bedford is a real city and after a long absence from the spotlight it is time once more to shine.

Walt Disney once said, "If you can dream it, you can do it."  New Bedford needs to dream big...and then make it happen.

What steps would you recommend to make New Bedford a "real city" again?

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420