New Milford Economic Development Corp. back in business
New Milford has brought back an additional layer of support and advocacy for economic development.
The New Milford Economic Development Corp. met last week for the first time since going dormant for two years under David Gronbach’s mayoral tenure. Pete Bass, the city’s new mayor, sat among six other board members as the nonprofit organization regrouped at Town Hall.
“We’re excited about re-establishing this and moving forward on this collaboration,” board member Tom Esposito said after the meeting, pointing out potential benefits for local jobs, economic growth and grand list enhancement.
“We’re looking forward to doing the right thing for our town,” said board member Ivan Shiffman. “It’s a special place.”
The New Milford Economic Development Corp. encourages business and industry growth in the town. Board members were excited to continue the corporation’s facade improvement and microloan programs.
Through the facade improvement program, businesses in downtown can receive a loan of up to $5,000 to improve the appearance of store’s exterior. Microloans, designed to help startup companies cover a variety of expenses, may be as high as $15,000.
As a nonprofit organization, it has access to potential funding sources not available to government entities
“It’s all volunteer. Any money we make is for the town,” board member Frank Wargo said.
The resurrection of the group comes on the heels of town council approving money to hire a director of economic development. That position was eliminated shortly after Bass took office due to budget constraints. Hiring a director of economic development still needs approval from the board of finance and a public referendum.
Bass said the long-term goal is to have the town’s economic director housed within the New Milford Economic Development Corp.
New Milford has an Economic Development Commission, a government entity comprised of appointed members who are residents of the town. Its mission is to expand and develop new business and industry in town and encourage a healthy business climate.
“It is another tool the town can use to create economic vitality,” Bass said. “Now we’re on the same playing field as the other towns that have one.”
All seven board members present voted to reinstate the corporation at last Thursday’s meeting. Discussion turned to increasing board membership, which according to the corporation’s by-laws, can be between three and 30 people.
“There are lots of opportunities within our network,” Bass said. “The more inclusive we can be the stronger board we will be.”
Board members discussed other ways to stimulate economic growth in New Milford, such as forming an incubator to give small businesses and manufacturers a low-cost place to get off the ground.