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, November 7, 2016
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Mark Lyon, Don Stein, Leo Paul, Ted Shafer, Jocelyn Ayer, JoAnn Ryan, Frank Chiaramonte, Doug Parker, Erin Wilson, Rick Lynn
Others in Attendance: Mark Waterhouse
Planning Session on the Northwest CT Economic Development Corporation,
The meeting was called to order at the NWC Chamber at 9 am. Mark Waterhouse explained that he was asked by Don Stein to serve as facilitator for this planning session to better define the future role and structure of the NWCEDC. Prior to the meeting, Mark distributed a one-page questionnaire to EDC Executive Committee members to help focus the discussion.
Discussion occurred on whether or not the region needs a focused economic development effort, the preferred structural organization for regional economic development, and priority economic development projects.
It was the consensus of the Executive Committee that Northwest CT needs a focused economic development effort to support and enhance municipal economic development efforts, support local businesses, and capitalize on the synergy achieved by a 21-town region. Jocelyn expressed support for the established NWCTEDC continuing to serve as the "collective impact" entity for regional economic development. She stated that the private/public partnership offered by the NWCTEDC has considerable value as a forum for sharing economic development information and the activities being undertaken by various organizations and stakeholders in the region.
Leo Paul expressed support for a regional economic development entity that focuses on smaller, achievable projects rather than just providing a forum for discussion. Doug Parker stated that implementation of priority CEDS projects could be more effectively achieved if the NWCTEDC had staff, but it is important to recognize that the Chamber and the NHCOG have implemented a number of CEDS projects as documented in a spreadsheet recently developed by Jocelyn.
Mark Lyon expressed support for a regional economic development organization that helps promote and market the region. Ted Shafer also supports such an organization for improved coordination of local economic development efforts. For example, he recently referred a potential new business to Torrington as it was not a good fit for Burlington. Don Stein also expressed support for a regional economic development entity and emphasized the importance of having a principal point of contact. Frank Chiaramonte suggested that the EDC Board could be reconfigured to include more representatives from municipal EDCs rather than CEOs.
Erin Wilson agreed that improved marketing of the region should be a priority. She suggested that the "Quarterly Review" of Economic Development prepared by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council could be used as a model for a similar project in the Northwest Hills. JoAnn Ryan stated that it is important to recognize that the Chamber markets the region every day for the business community. She agreed, however, that additional resources devoted to promoting the region could be helpful. JoAnn stated that there are an estimated 600 jobs available in the region right now.
Don Stein suggested that one area that could benefit from improved marketing is tourism and outdoor recreation opportunities in the region. The recent elimination of funding for the Regional Travel Councils strengthens the case for pursuing such marketing efforts. Jocelyn stated that the tourism marketing conducted through the 8-town initiative provides a foundation upon which the region could build. Frank stated that a logical entity to provide such enhanced marketing is the Chamber of Commerce.
Mark Waterhouse stated that in order to raise resources for economic development, it is important to first identify what the product will be and how it will benefit the business community. The need for a marketing plan for the region was discussed. Erin stated that CERC could prepare such a marketing plan for a fee.
Leo Paul expressed interest in discussing the organizational structure for the regional economic development entity, particularly since Doug Parker has expressed interest in stepping down as the EDC Chairman. One option is to have the organization function as a subcommittee of the COG. Don Stein suggested that organizational issues could be addressed later (form should follow function), and that the current focus should be on identifying an achievable project that benefits the business community. Mark Lyon agreed that the EDC should focus on one achievable task right now. He also stated that the region should be marketed for business development and not just tourism.
Mark Waterhouse stated that marketing is frequently one of the priority projects of regional economic development entities as it is generally more effective than marketing by individual towns. Leo Paul expressed interest in having greater representation by the business community in discussing potential projects and organizational structure.
Following additional discussion, it was the consensus of the Executive Committee that a follow-up meeting of the NWCTEDC Executive Committee and the Chamber Executive Committee should be convened to discuss interest in developing a regional marketing plan to serve as a fulcrum for reinvigorating the NWCTEDC to help create and maintain jobs in the region. JoAnn Ryan offered to convene such a meeting and it was agreed that the meeting will be held on December 1st at 8 am at the Chamber.
Executive Committee members expressed their appreciation to Mark Waterhouse for facilitating the meeting.
Adjournment. The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 am