Downtown Update

Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center


Vol.15, Issue 4              

Inspiring great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street.
Simsbury Grocer Wins 2015 Retailer of the Year Award

Photo Credit: Sarah Nielsen, Simsbury Main Street Partnership

Fitzgerald's Foods, a small independent grocer in Simsbury Town Center, recently beat out hundreds independent retailers  from Maine to Maryland for the title of "2015 Retailer of the Year". The award was presented by Bozzuto's Inc, a family-owned Connecticut business. 


Fitzgerald's owners Bryan and Sandy DeVoe bought the business in 2010 and quickly set about becoming involved with local groups, events and schools. Bozzuto's Executive Vice President of Retail Sales Development George Motel said in congratulating the DeVoe's, "The combinatin of the ever growing variety of culinary delights, community involvement and attention to detail has proven to be the right recipe for success."


Congratulations to CMSC designated member Simsbury Main Street Partnership and local business owners Bryan and Sandy DeVoe for providing such wonderful goods and services to their community!

CMSC Presents at National Main Streets Conference


CMSC's John Simone and Susan Westa recently attended the National Main Streets Conference in Atlanta, where they presented Living on Main Street: New Strategies from Connecticut and Iowa. Fellow presenters included Diane Smith from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, CMSC's partner on the Come Home to Downtown program, and Michael Wagler, State Coordinator of Main Street Iowa. Together, they discussed strategies for investing in our downtowns, where infrastructure already exists and there are opportunities for walkable, mixed-use development. 


State Coordinators gather for a photo at the recent National Main Streets Conference in Atlanta.


Spotlight on 2014 Awards of Excellence
Simsbury Main Street Partnership 
Board Member & Volunteer of the Year  

Board Member of the Year -  

Grace Connors

Grace Connors is a founding board member of the Simsbury Main Street Partnership.  Grace has served on the Executive Committee as secretary to the board, and is also a member of the promotions committee.   


Volunteer of the Year - Michelle Mudry    

Michelle Mudry is a volunteer for the Simsbury Main Street Partnership.  She is the volunteer coordinator for the seasonal Simsbury Farmer's Market, which runs 16 weeks each year.  Michelle also assists with the planning and promotion of the market to the public.  


Congratulations to the Simsbury Team!   

Pictures from the 2014 Awards Gala have been posted to our
Facebook page. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here. 

Re-Mains of the Day 


 Where There's A Mill...There's A WayTorrington Historic Preservation Trust is presenting a symposium on effective strategies for restoring, repurposing, and redeveloping Connecticut's historic mills and factories on May 8 at the Warner Theatre in Torrington. The event features of several distinguished speakers, including a keynote address by Charles Bartsch - the man who coined the term "brownfield". Cost is $50 and CM Credits are pending. Click to view the event flyer or here to register.

National publication features Waterbury Event
- Main Street Waterbury's "Wine On Main St." event was recently featured in the national publication, Downtown Promotion Reporter. The publication provides tools and techniques to downtown organizations for attracting people to local stores, restaurants, and businesses through highlighting innovative promotion ideas from around the country. CMSC also recognized MSW's innovation, awarding them the 2014 Award of Excellence for Events & Programming for their Wine on Main St. event. Click here to read the full article.
SBA offering workshops at the Women's Business Center The U.S. Small Business Administration is holding Small Business Workshops at the Women's Business Center in Hartford in April and May. There are several sessions on various aspects of financing to choose from - click this link for more information and to register.  

President's Message 

Partnering far to benefit near      

Only a couple of weeks after our March workshop on Building Lasting DownTOWN/GOWN Partnerships, our friends and colleagues at CEDAS hosted an event at Middlesex Community College (MXCC) on how community colleges are leveraging resources to meet community workforce needs. While this topic was touched on at our workshop, with Enfield's Assistant Town Planner Courtney Hendricson and Asnuntuck Community College President James Lombella describing how they're partnering to meet the town's needs, the CEDAS event delved more deeply into emerging workforce trends in Connecticut, namely the expected growth in media-based jobs and a looming shortage of skilled manufacturing workers.



According to MXCC's Center for New Media, Connecticut can expect an 11.7% job growth in all media categories - arts, sports and media, and entertainment through 2020 (the national average is 4.3%). And according to Marjorie Valentin, Associate Dean of Three Rivers Community College, without training there will be a critical skills gap of new and existing manufacturing employees, as an aging skilled workforce leaves the field and a stigma of the profession remains, leaving a shortage of skilled workers that threatens the future of manufacturing in Southeastern CT.


MXCC's Center for New Media has state of the art techology to provide students with hands-on training.
In response, these and several other community colleges are partnering directly with manufacturers like Electric Boat, who offer input into the curriculum to ensure graduating students have the skills necessary to perform. And MXCC recently opened a beautiful, state-of-the-art Center for New Media, complete with high-tech classrooms, a high-def studio, a video control room, green room, audio production studio, and a radio station that will broadcast on 107.5 FM.


While it was impressive to see and hear how much our community colleges have to offer today's students, truly preparing them to succeed in a competitive workforce, what really struck me was our need to think beyond just our downtown borders when building strategic partnerships. While we should absolutely strive to create fruitful relationships between our main street organizations and local anchor institutions, we also need to keep in mind that as a state, our successes and failures are often shared. So while Windsor may not have a community college within its borders, it may have high school students and a manufacturer who could benefit from a training program offered in Norwich. Meanwhile, a student can benefit from learning medical animation in Middletown, working at a downtown Hartford hospital during the day before going home to Portland at night.


Offering attractive, inviting downtowns and Main Streets with a variety of housing, businesses and resources accommodates a population that is fluid not just over the course of a lifespan, but often over the course of a day! By being mindful that a wider, regional or even state-wide partnership can benefit our towns and downtowns at a very local level we ensure our successes are complementary, not exclusive.




Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o Eversource

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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Upcoming Events

Waterbury Business Women's Spring Tea

April 16

 More Info


iForum: Public Housing Revitalization
The Lyceum
April 21


SBA Workshops

Women's Business Center 


April - May

Register & More Info 


Where There's A Mill, There's A Way Symposium


May 8

Register & More Info 


2015 Awards of Excellence Winners Announced

May 1


2015 Awards Gala

New Britain

June 8 


Annah Perch,
Executive Director, New London Main Street
Appointed NLMS Executive Director in April 2013, Annah has brought new energy and focus on partnership-building to New London Main Street. Her many skills include historic preservation, event planning, grant writing, fund raising, community development and nonprofit management.


- Previously Executive Director of Stepping Stones Foundation in Katonah, NY

 During her tenure, Annah stewarded the federal application that led to the nonprofit's designation as a National Historic Landmark in late 2012. 


- She also oversaw extensive historic repairs, the planning and building of a Welcome Center, and preservation of the founders' archives.


- Holds a master's degree in urban planning with a specialty in housing and community development from the State University of New York at Albany.


- In addition to her responsibilities at NLMS, Annah is a high school program area manager for the Council for Educational Travel where she fosters partnerships between public high schools, families and other countries to have international students spend an academic year living and studying in the United States.  


We celebrate Annah for her efforts to support downtown revitalization.  



Photo Credit:

CMSC's 2015 Awards of Excellence will be presented during our Awards Gala, held this year at Trinity-On-Main in New Britain on Monday, June 8.  


Since the 1890s, New Britain's Broad Street neighborhood has served as the heart of New England's Polish community.  To celebrate, local residents and business owners host a Little Poland festival celebrating the neighborhood and the city of New Britain.

Come celebrate with Connecticut's largest Polish population during the Little Poland Festival, April 26, 2015. This event is put on by the community and features
leaping folk dancers, live music, arts & crafts, mascot Stanley the Dragon, rides for kids, and amazing food.