Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation
333 Kennedy Drive, Torrington, CT 06790
860.567.2204 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nwctedc.com
Meeting Minutes -Executive Committee
Monday, February 22, 2016
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
The meeting was called to order by President Doug Parker at 8:05 a.m.
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Erin Wilson, Frank Chiaramonte, Lou Helt, Doug Parker, Ted Shafer, Scott Gray (Chamber) & JoAnn Ryan (9am), Leo Paul, Jr. (9:30am), Guest: Jessica Fowler (Infrastructure & NWCONNect)
1. Review of NWCTEDC By-Laws
- After review, no changes were suggested for the by-laws.
- Leo Paul will head up a committee to insure that they reflect current practices.
2. Composition of NWCTEDC Board and Executive Committee
- Reviewed and discussed the membership of the 2016 Board of Directors and Executive Committee, all were in agreement with the current structure.
3. NWCTEDC Goals for 2016
- Group looked at the 2015 NWCTEDC Goals.
- EDD Designation: Because of the change in the state RPO's there was a delay in getting the EDD designation from EDA (U.S. Econ. Dev. Admin., Dept. of Commerce). EDA is requesting CT to define regional economic development districts.
- Task Forces: Task Force concept did not work as intended. Original concept was for Task Teams to meet independently to discuss and implement CEDS Action Plan. Progress from each Task Team was to be shared at Executive Committee meetings. There were mixed results with some groups meeting on a regular basis and others that did not meet at all.
- Funding: Staff is needed to manage the implementation of the NW CT CEDS Action Plan. Funding is a major issue. Matching funds are also required if an EDA planning grant is awarded. Grant can be as high as $70,000. NWCTEDC would need to match at 50% ($35,000). Some of the match can be "in-kind" services. Documentation of in-kind services is required. We need to discuss COG funding for the EDC. Nearly every other regional group receives some funding from the member municipalities. There was a brief discussion about grant writing and having an annual fundraising event.
- Doug will "massage" the goals based on these discussions.
4. CERC Quarterly Regional Meetings
- Erin Wilson provided an update from the most recent CERC Quarterly Regional meeting.
- CERC is looking to provide services for professional economic development personnel to assist the towns.
- CERC has been working closely with DECD to determine the most effective ways to deliver services and assistance to the regions. The observation is that the state's path to supporting regional economic development groups is not clear at this time.
- CERC & DECD leaders will visit the NW CT Chamber immediately following the March 21, 2016 NWCTEDC BOD meeting.
- There is a general feeling that NW CT is under-represented at state-wide events.
5. NHCOG Economic Summit
Jocelyn Ayer (NHCOG) provided an update. Over 100 people attended the NHCOG Economic Summit on Tuesday, January 26, 2016 at South Farms in Morris. Attendees represented numerous local economic development commissions and other regional organizations.
- Previous discussions with individual town officials had identified the need for resources to address economic development issues at the town level.
- The purpose of the economic summit was to provide information about a variety of resources and organizations to support their efforts.
- The emphasis was to support small businesses and help them to identify resources available to them.
- They identified the need for shared space, tool kit development, and a version of the stepped-up conference where all the resources are available in one place.
- Participants found the information valuable and greatly increased awareness of available resources.
- Jocelyn suggested libraries from the region meet to discuss the resources available for small businesses.
- SCORE and SBDC are resources available through the Chamber that support small businesses throughout NW CT.
- The University of Hartford's Entrepreneurial Center is also providing outreach services to local communities and small businesses.
6. Draft - NHCOG Infrastructure Plan
- Jocelyn Ayer provided an updated of the Draft NHCOG Infrastructure Plan for NW CT.
- The draft was developed with a $40,000 NHCOG contract with the NW CT Chamber.
- Erin Wilson reminded everyone of the Torrington Municipal Development Plan that is included in the current NW CT CEDS. That project will be added to the new NHCOG Infrastructure Plan.
- Other potential additions to the plan include a regional food hub and expansion of natural gas pipelines to municipalities in the NHCOG.
- A motion was made by Lou Helt to endorse the Draft NHCOG Infrastructure Plan with three additions: 1) The five way intersection in downtown Torrington; 2) a NW CT Food Hub; 3) and expansion of natural gas pipelines to NHCOG municipalities. JoAnn Ryan seconded the motion. It was passed unanimously.
- As a result of discussions, it was suggested that the May NWTEDC Board meeting focus on energy infrastructure.
7. Plan for Matching Funds for CEDS Grant
- See #3 above
- Need to match funds 50/50 with the EDA funds.
- We can apply for up to $70,000.
- Could other state grants be considered matching funds? Could staff from the Chamber and the Torrington be considered as matching funds? All this must be documented.
- Jessica Fowler provided an update about NWCONNect
- Multiple towns in NW CT have limited access to cell and Internet services due to low population density and the high cost associated with bring those services to rural towns.
- Jessica and Kim Maxwell have been actively exploring options to provide those services and have formed NWCONNect.
- They have been in discussions with representatives of Frontier to explore options for providing broadband services to the rural towns.
- Towns would have to build the fiber optic network, develop marketing plans, and develop community websites.
- Jocelyn provided an update on the NHCOG's Northwest CT Food Hub Feasibility Study
- Background: NHCOG applied for and received a state agriculture viability grant from the CT Dept. of Agriculture for $50,000 (matching grant with state providing $25,000 and NHCOG providing $25,000), half ($12,500) can be in-kind services.
- Feasibility Study was created with a partnership with the Partners for Sustainable Healthy Communities.
- NW CT Food Hub Executive Summary was distributed.
- The findings suggest that a NW CT Food Hub has strong potential to be operationally and financially feasible.
- The next phase of research will assess the financial viability of this food hub, determine the throughput volumes that can and must be achieved to ensure success, clarify performance metrics to be used for the hub, and establish the optimal legal and management structure.
- Leo Paul, Jr. made a motion to endorse the efforts of the NHCOG to continue to explore the viability of creating a regional NW CT Food Hub. Erin Wilson seconded the motion. The motion was passed unanimously.
- JoAnn Ryan announced the NW CT Chamber's Business Expo to be held on June 4, 2016 at the Goshen Fairgrounds. It was suggested that JoAnn reach out to the Goshen Agricultural Society as a potential partner for this event.
9. The meeting was adjourned at 9:46 a.m.
NW CT Economic Development Corporation