Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.1, Issue 7

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.

Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center

New Year, New Opportunities

CMSC's Goals for 2013


It's January and for many that means planning New Year's resolutions and setting goals for the year.  CMSC operates on a July to June fiscal year calendar so for us this is actually our midpoint.  Still, with so much activity going on, it's a great time to pause and take stock of where we are and what more we'd like to accomplish this year.  Below are some of the areas we'll be focusing on as we move into 2013:


Implement Come Home to Downtown (CHTD) Pilot Program

  • As you've probably seen in the news, Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury were chosen as the CHTD pilot communities.  Now we'll begin working directly with the towns to build a community consensus, identify the buildings for renovation and begin creating a downtown development audit and model building analysis. The goal of the program is to provide these communities with the tools to attract and support mixed-use development while learning to better manage their downtowns.

Strengthen member services

  • If you're a regular reader of Downtown Update, then you know that we've recently added several new member communities.  In addition, we're reviewing the services and products we offer, and will make some changes to better address our members' needs.  
  • Over the next couple months, we'll also be rolling out a new quarterly newsletter just for CMSC member communities, as well as planning some fresh new networking events. 

Raise profile of CMSC and strengthen industry relationships

  • In the Fall we secured funding for the next two years of the Preservation of Place (POP) grant program from DECD.  We're also working to continue our contracts with OPM for the Main Street Investment Fund (MSIF) and with CHFA for year two of the Come Home to Downtown pilot program. 
  • We continue to meet and collaborate with DECD on a variety of issues, including placemaking, a topic which will appear in many of our activities this year as its value comes to be more widely recognized and understood.
  • W're also playing a more prominent role on the issue of Transit Oriented Development (TOD), meeting with ConnDOT Commissioner Jim Reddeker on what CMSC's role should be in the New Haven, Hartford, Springfield commuter rail corridor and the new New Britain busway development, and participating in working groups around TOD.

There is much work to be done this year and much progress to be made growing and developing our Main Streets and downtowns. We're looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and digging in on these important topics because we know together we can create the type of neighborhoods we all want to come home to.

CMSC/YES Forum Coming in February


In the spirit of a new year and new friends, CMSC is partnering with Young Energetic Solutions (YES)  to present two workshops on Fostering Communities that Attract Young People: A forum on what young professionals want in downtown living and how towns can attract & keep them there. There will be two forums; one in Hartford at the Lyceum on February 6 and one in New Haven at the Grove on February 20. These events will be a great way for people involved in YES to get a deeper understanding of municipal decision-making, land use planning and placemaking. Municipal officials, planners and local leaders will be able to learn what young people want in their downtown, while providing guidance on how young adults can influence the design and growth of their communities. Jason Vincent, Vice President of Norwich Community Development Corp., will facilitate this lively discussion. For more information and to register, click here.

Legislative Watch


The 2013 legislative session opened on January 9. CMSC keeps abreast of any relevant activity with the help of its government relations consultant Pete Smith of Rome Smith and Lutz. While CMSC does not have a set legislative agenda for this session, we do closely monitor any legislation that may impact our members, testifying or writing letters in support or opposition of proposed bills as appropriate (as we did with recent proposed cuts to the Community Investment Act).


In addition, John Simone, CMSC President & CEO, sits on the Board of Connecticut Preservation Action (CPA), an organization that serves as the grassroots arm of Connecticut's historic preservation community. CPA is currently monitoring any changes to the restrictions on the historic rehabilitation tax credits. For instance, downtown buildings that were originally built as single family structures are ineligible for the tax credits even if they are currently being used for mixed-use or commercial uses. CPA advocates for the repeal of these types of unnecessary restrictions that would also benefit many CMSC member communities.


The current budget deficit this year promises to be one of many challenges and compromises, but as always, CMSC will remain actively aware of any legislation of note, advocating on behalf of our members to promote the Main Street way of life.

Spotlight on 2012 CMSC Award Winner - Main Street Waterbury & the Republican-American


CMSC was proud to present the 2012 Award of Excellence for Main Street Partnership, sponsored by Wells Fargo, to Main Street Waterbury and the Republican-American for Celebrating Downtown, a special supplement of the Sunday Republican at its Awards Gala last June.


Celebrating Downtown - Main Street Waterbury & the Republican- American Sunday supplement.
Main Street Waterbury partnered with the Republican-American on Celebrating Downtown, a special supplement to of the Sunday Republican.

In 2011, the Main Street Waterbury 

Board of Directors developed its annual strategic plan with an overarching theme of outreach, advocacy and promotion of downtown. At the same time, the Main Street program recognized that it needed to do a better job promoting and highlighting the accomplishments of its organization. As a result, Main Street chose to partner with the Republican-American newspaper, an anchor institution in the downtown district. The goal was to help market downtown and generate new exposure for Main Street while providing the newspaper with increased advertising revenue and an engaged readership that already numbered over 55,000 subscribers.   


The newspaper and Main Street developed Celebrating Downtown - a special supplement of the Sunday Republican. Both parties were pleased when several advertisers submitted full-page ads for the first supplement, seeing this as a true vote of confidence for their venture.   



In 2011, the partnership completed two supplements, maintaining an important 50/50 ratio of articles-to-advertisements. In the debut supplement, the newspaper sold more ads than anticipated, so Main Street Waterbury's volunteers and staff researched and wrote more articles to maintain the necessary balance.


One such article was penned by a talented student attending the UConn Waterbury campus. He wrote about the attractive things Waterbury has to offer, presenting a positive perspective based on present day experience and not from nostalgia for a Downtown of the past.


The Fall publication, however, experienced an unforeseen and significant obstacle. The preparation and sales schedule came to a screeching halt due to the October 2011 snow storm that paralyzed Connecticut. Power outages lasting several days resulted in a lost week of critical ad sales time. The planned release date for this supplement was designed to provide downtown merchants a useful promotional tool for the holiday season so the publishing date had to be maintained, testing the ability of the partnership to be flexible during these unforeseen circumstances.



Celebrating Downtown provided a win-win-win as the public had an opportunity to learn more about Main Street Waterbury and the many activities going on downtown. Businesses benefited from great exposure for their advertising dollar. And the Republican-American was very pleased with their partnership with Main Street and the revenue generated from new advertisers interested in having a presence in the supplement.


The greatest impact of this initiative came in the form of a stronger relationship between Main Street Waterbury and the Republican-American, and through that, the continuing opportunity to promote and build a positive image of Downtown.




Photos from the 2012 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. We invite you to view the camaraderie and communal inspiration that was evident in the many smiling, proud faces of the awards winners and their supporters. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here.  



Re-Mains of the Day 

▪ Newsworthy Work - Our members have been making the news recently as we partner to create more vibrant downtowns. The recent Preservation of Place grant awards and announcement of Come Home to Downtown pilot communities has generated a lot of buzz, in addition to the their own initiatives. Check out the articles below.  

 The call for CMSC's 2013 Awards of Excellence entries has been issued. Our 2013 Awards program features two major changes from previous years. First, all nomination materials will be submitted electronically for the first time. Second, we have spent some time re-thinking awards categories this year. The result is a much leaner list of award categories under which many possible activities will qualify. These awards are open to CMSC member communities. Over the past ten years these awards have annually celebrated the most successful and innovative efforts in Main Street Revitalization in Connecticut. The Awards of Excellence recognize outstanding projects, individuals and partnerships in community efforts to bring our traditional downtowns and neighborhood districts back to life, socially and economically. If you are interested in applying, contact Associate Director, Kim Parsons-Whitaker.


This newsletter is meant to be a vehicle to communicate with our member communities, industry colleagues and generous supporters.  If you have information about events happening in your downtown, captivating pictures of your Main Street or news regarding your organization that you would like to share in our monthly newsletter, please let us know.

President's Message 


The 2013 National Main Street Center conference will be in New Orleans this year, with a theme of "Cultural Economy", capitalizing on heritage tourism, the arts and entrepreneurship. Of course, this suits New Orleans perfectly, with its rich history of music, extravagance and culinary exuberance.


It fits Connecticut as well, especially given the recent "Still Revolutionary" state marketing campaign. Connecticut has much to offer in the way of a diverse landscape set in a small geographic area. From the picturesque shoreline to the rolling hills of the quiet corner, from the bustle of the New York border to the woodsy northwest, there is plenty of inherent culture for Connecticut to build on - much of it located among our downtown neighborhoods and Main Streets.


The best thing about these places is their uniqueness, their individual character built on years of history and embedded in the very buildings, parks and homes that make up their borders. In all we do, CMSC tries to tell the story of this history while meeting the needs of today's modern demands. We help breathe new life into old structures, reviving downtowns that revere the past while making way for the future.


I hope you can join me in New Orleans as we continue to learn from each other and our colleagues around the nation about how we can further implement the idea of "Still Revolutionary" into our cultural economy.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o CL&P

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



In This Issue
New Year, New Opportunities: CMSC's Goals for 2013 



 CMSC/YES Forum Coming in February

Legislative Watch
Spotlight on 2012 CMSC Award Winner - Main Street Waterbury and the Republican-American



Re-Mains of the Day -Newsworthy Work; 2013 Awards of Excellence Call for Entries



President's Message


Upcoming Events

CMSC Offices Closed 

for Martin Luther King Day

January 21


2013 IForum Series:

What Makes a Strong Community?

The Lyceum, Hartford

January 29

More Info



The Lyceum, Hartford

February 6

Register Here 


Chocolate Chip Stroll Willimantic 

February 9

More Info


CMSC Offices Closed for President's Day

February 18



The Grove, New Haven

February 20

Register Here


2013 CMSC Awards of Excellence Entries Due

March 12


2013 CMSC Awards Gala

June 10

Like us on Facebook!

Main Street Waterbury Board Members
Main Street Waterbury Board Members enjoy themselves at CMSC's 2012 Annual Awards Gala at Cheney Hall in Manchester.
See pictures of Main Street Waterbury and the Republican-American supplement and other award winners
on Facebook!


Norwich City Hall decorated with holiday lights.
Norwich City Hall
Send us your downtown pictures!
Connecticut's Main Streets are lit up against the dark winter sky. Show us how your town glows all year long! Send us pictures of your beautifully decorated downtowns, your merry Main Streets and your cherry, red-nosed residents.  We'll feature them in upcoming editions of Downtown Update and on our Facebook page.
Show us your Main Street spirit and we'll tell everyone how awesome you are!