Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation
333 Kennedy Drive, Torrington, CT 06790
860.567.2204 - email@example.com - www.nwctedc.com
Meeting Minutes - Board of Directors
Monday, September 19, 2016
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
The meeting was called to order by President/Chairman Doug Parker at 8:05 a.m.
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Peter Bevivino, Bill Burgess, Frank Chiaramonte, Susan Clayton, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, Brad Hoar, Mark Lyon, Laura McCarthy, Patricia Mechare, Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Ted Shafer, Don Stein, Larry Sweeney, Sharon Waagner, Amy Wynn, Steve Zarrella
Guests: Dan Bolognani, Cathy Fields, Judy McElhone, James Nelson, Lesley Budny
I. Economic Impact of Arts, Culture and Tourism
Dan Bolognani - Board Chairman of Western CT Convention & Visitors Bureau and Executive Director of Housatonic Heritage
- There are currently three regional tourism districts in CT, East, West and Central.
- The Western CT Convention and Visitors Bureau (WCCVB) supports 63 municipalities in mostly Fairfield and Litchfield counties.
- Each town is represented on the board plus there are industry representatives from lodging and tourism destinations.
- Every state has a tourism system, CT went from 15 regional tourism districts to 3.
- Regional tourism districts have been in CT for 30 years and are a bottom-up type organization with representatives from local communities and tourist related businesses.
- Lodging generates $15-16 million total revenue per year in Litchfield County.
- The 15% state lodging tax generates between $2.3-2.5 million per year in Litchfield County.
- Tourism multiplier: every dollar spent on tourism generates $5 of additional revenue associated with tourism (restaurants, local shops, etc.)
- Tourism funding (.03% of the annual budget) was cut to zero for the regional tourism districts on July 1, 2016 by the Governor due to budget shortfalls. Previously each of the three districts had been receiving $400,000 per year.
- WCCVB produced 900 press releases and 3,000 blog entries last year.
- Blog views totaled 2,680,970 and website hits were 59,972,241 in 2015.
- There are 12,400 Twitter followers and WCCVB has active accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
- Press releases and media visits have provided over $100,000 of free publicity for regional businesses and organizations. Over 100 articles were generated by travel writers about Western CT.
- The 168 page regional tourism booklet "Unwind" is distributed to over 50,000 people annually. An online regional newsletter has 30,000 subscribers.
- WCCVB provides event assessment, demographic and marketing research, group tour workshops, event planning workshops and hosts business-to-business networking and marketing meetings.
- WCCVB participates in regional (NE) trade shows and serves as the contact for international travel inquiries.
Amy Wynn - Executive Director, Northwest CT Arts Council
- The Northwest CT Arts Council (NCAC) is a regional (NW CT) non-profit organization covering 25 towns and networking with over 500 artists and over 250 art-related businesses and non-profit organizations.
- The visual and performing arts are major contributors to the quality of life in the region.
- The NCAC budget is $180,000 per year and is one of nine regional arts councils in CT.
- NCAC recently hosted their 7th annual Open Your Eyes Studio Tour featuring 25 local artists in Litchfield and Thomaston. Over 1,000 people went on this year's tour.
- NCAC also hosts the CultureMax Awards to honor local artists, art and cultural organizations, volunteers and businesses promoting the arts.
- Based on a 2010 state-wide study, direct economic activity associated with arts and culture organizations was over $455 million per year.
- NCAC has received grant support from the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG) and the NW CT Community Foundation.
Cathy Fields - Executive Director, Litchfield Historical Society
- The Litchfield Historical Society (LHS) was established in 1898 and currently includes the Litchfield History Museum, Tapping Reeve House and Law School, and a relatively new archive facility.
- The annual budget is $500,000 supported by revenue from an endowment, grants and membership contributions.
- There are between 13,000 and 15,000 visitors per year from 42 states and 23 foreign countries.
- The LHS has received over $1,000,000 in grants, mostly (80%) for capital projects.
- LHS has also received over $500,000 from 27 grants from the CT Humanities Council for programming and exhibits.
- The state recently cut funding for the CT Humanities Council.
- They provide lectures, walking tours, field trips for students and in-school programs.
- They do not receive any financial support from the town and rely on an endowment and donations.
Judy McElhone - Executive Director, Five Points Gallery
- Five Points Gallery was established in 2012.
- There are currently three separate gallery spaces with 10 exhibits per year.
- Visitors from 16 states and 16 countries have visited the galleries.
- Over 400 people have attended some of the openings.
- The art has been valued as high as $250,000 in the three galleries.
- The Gallery has begun working with college interns and is forming partnerships with the Nutmeg Conservatory and the Warner Theatre.
- The recent Yarn Bomb project drew over 500 participants to create outdoor art in downtown Torrington. Walking tours and scavenger hunts were side events related to the Yarn Bomb project.
- They are working with the University of Hartford to create incubator spaces for young artists.
- They are planning an "Art Heist" fundraiser with 50 artists to support the multiple aspects of their non-profit organization.
- Their success has enhanced downtown Torrington by bringing visitors and artists into the city.
James Nelson - General Manager, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Yale School of Music
- Yale School of Music, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival summer program has been in Norfolk for 75 years.
- They have four programs, one for artists and three for musicians.
- The graduate level Chamber Music program begins after Memorial Day and runs until late August in Norfolk.
- It draws students from all over the world. There are students from 14 different institutions with 38 students in all.
- This prestigious program attracts students of all ages and specializes in classical chamber music.
- They perform 40 public chamber music concerts during the summer months with over 13,000 visitors.
- There are three staff members during the summer with multiple part-time employees from the local community.
- They have established a partnership with the Region 7 school district and the Colebrook and Botelle Elementary Schools.
- Grants from the NW CT Community Foundation have helped to support their efforts.
Lesley Budny - Sales & Marketing Manager, Warner Theatre
- The Warner Theatre in Torrington was built in 1931 and is one of six of the 400 Warner Theatres still in existence.
- It was restored in the 1980's.
- The main theatre seats 1700 and the Nancy Marine Studio Theatre seats 300.
- The Warner draws over 100,000 patrons to over 170 events per year.
- Visitors last year came from 204 different towns and 32 different states.
- 184 students from 62 towns participated in the Warner Theatre's Center for Arts Education last year. Over 4,000 school aged children participated in Warner events.
- The Warner Stage Company draws from a 30 mile radius for their community theatre productions.
- They receive no funding from the city of Torrington or federal government.
- They generate 70% of their revenue from programs and nearly 30% from contributions.
- State support has just been reduced from 2.8% to 2% of their annual budget.
- Over $30,000 in ticket vouchers has been provided to community groups.
- There are 10 full-time staff members, 25 part-time staff members and over 800 volunteers.
- They host 40 events per year partnering with local caterers. It is estimated that for every dollar spent at the Warner, $8 is spent in the community.
II. NHCOG Updates - Jocelyn Ayer
- A matching grant for $50,000 was received from the NW CT Community Foundation to support the development of a regional food hub.
- The NHCOG Regional Infrastructure Plan has been finalized.
- The NHCOG was awarded a $200,000 Regional Performance Incentive (RPI) Grant from the state to facilitate a NWCONNect Broadband Initiative.
III. NW CT Chamber Updates - JoAnn Ryan
- The NW CT Manufacturing Coalition Summit is Sept. 30 at Chatterly's in Torrington.
- The NW CT Chamber's CBIA Business Survey is currently open.
IV. NWCTEDC Updates - Doug Parker
- KidsPlay and Arethusa Farm Dairy have been selected to receive recognition at the CERC Celebrate CT event on November 30th at the Bushnell in Hartford.
- A Webster Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Grant of $5,000 was received by NWCTEDC.
V. Adjourn (9:38 a.m.)
Frank Chiaramonte, Secretary
NW CT Economic Development Corporation