Downtown Update
Newsletter of the Connecticut Main Street Center 

Celebrating 20 Years of inspiring great Connecticut downtowns,  
Main Street by Main Street.
CMSC & CEDAS Explore Downtown Fairfield

CMSC and CEDAS members enjoyed a terrific networking event in Fairfield recently, hosted by Mark Barnhart, Fairfield's Director of Economic Development. Guests were introduced to the downtown and its diverse array of restaurants, retail, offices and commercial space followed by a networking reception at the Old Post Tavern.  
First Selectman Mike Tetreau (pictured) and Joe Rog, Director of Development for the Fairfield Theatre Company (FTC), greeted guests during a welcome reception at FTC's newest venue, The Warehouse. FTC is a nonprofit center for arts and culture located in the heart of downtown. The organization works to establish and sustain venues for the presentation of plays, films, visual arts, and arts education. Mr. Rog told the audience how The Warehouse space was responsive to the community and market demand for a music venue, while Mark spoke to how the town worked with the FTC to make the venue come to life.

A panel presentation followed at the Fairfield University bookstore where Jennifer Anderson, Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications at Fairfield University; Chris Huntley, Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management at the Charles F. Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University and principal adviser to the Fairfield University Accelerator and Mentoring Enterprise (FAME); and Kenneth Kleban, President of Kleban Properties talked about the various ways the University is partnering with local developers and other to have more of a downtown presence and assist small business startups. Finally, a tour of FAME - a small business incubator led by the University - was conducted by Jason Maloney and Dan Lietao of Black Stag Consulting.
Spotlight on 2015 Awards of Excellence
Events & Planning - Sponsored by Webster Bank 
The Gathering: Waterbury's Cross Cultural Festival

City of Waterbury, Waterbury Observer, Main Street Waterbury 
The goal: to bring together the proud ethnicities that define the City of Waterbury; to recognize and celebrate their uniqueness; and to build understanding and appreciation of each so that Waterbury becomes a tighter community with enriched pride.

Opportunities & Challenges:
  • Waterbury, Connecticut is home to residents from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Immigrants came to find work and willingly lent their skills, intelligence and capacity for hard work to the demands of the world's markets for the products made in the city's factories. Over the 20th century, manufacturing dwindled and all but died, but its strong-willed populations remained.
  • In the words of Waterbury citizen Jimmy Saunders, "If you started at the Green and went north, you knew who lived there. If you headed to the south, you knew who lived there. For most of my life, if you told me the name of the street in Waterbury I could tell you what ethnic group lived there." Saunders took the division one step further. "Even after you died, you stayed separated. The Irish had their own funeral home and so did the Italians, Jews, and Blacks. We were separated in life, and we were separated in death. We never came together."
  • For two decades Waterbury Observer publisher John Murray had covered small ethnic celebrations largely attended by members of the groups hosting the event. Murray had the idea of creating one massive multi-cultural festival in Downtown, inviting every ethnic group in the city to celebrate its culture in one place at one time.
  • Murray sought collaboration with Main Street Waterbury and the Mayor's Office in producing The Gathering. Using the Mayor's clout to hold a series of community meetings with the leaders from each ethnic groups, and Main Street Waterbury's experience in establishing structure and organization to the idea, the festival went from concept to fruition in four months!
  • It was determined that the event would be free and open to everyone. The Mayor's Office and Main Street recruited ethnic groups, booked music and dance acts, secured commitment of food vendors who featured foods from dozens of countries around the world, and raised sponsorship money to cover expenses, which totaled about $20,000. Additionally, John Murray of the Observer successfully recruited $36,000 in media sponsorships to spread the word throughout the region.
  • Teams were established to handle the parade logistics, the park layout, and volunteer recruitment and orientation. Volunteer educators developed a simple and creative passport game that inspired children from K-6 to visit 30 display booths to get stickers in their "passports" - and in the process, lean more about a variety of ethnic groups.
Major Accomplishments:
  • In 2014, 3,350 people marched in a massive parade through Downtown. Seventy tents, hosting displays and vendors, lined Library Park. Over 40 ethnic groups participated. There were 25 featured stage performances throughout the afternoon. An estimated 10,000 people attended this day-long celebration of food, music, dance and culture from around the world.
  • Mayor Neil O'Leary called it "the best event I have attended in my three decades of public service in the city. The Gathering opened all of our eyes to what people can do when they work together. This was a historic event for the City of Waterbury." Lynne Williamson, Director of the Connecticut Cultural Heritage Arts Program, said to her knowledge there had never been a more inclusive and successful festival celebrating diversity in Connecticut history.
Congratulations to the Waterbury team!
Pictures from the 2015 Awards Gala have been posted to our Facebook page. Learn more about the winning initiatives and individuals here. 
Re-Mains of the Day 
Photo Credit: Watertown Town Times
Watertown Main Street Business Wins Beautification Award
- Onyx Jewelers, a family-owned Main Street business in Watertown, has been chosen to receive the 2015 Beautification Award from the Watertown/Oakville Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes individuals, companies and organizations for efforts that add to the aesthetics of the area by improving their properties or key access points to our community. The award will be presented on November 4 when the Chamber hosts its 51st annual meeting and awards dinner honoring local leaders and businesses.
Downtown Willimantic Adopt-A-Banner Program - Local merchants, organizations and families can support and beautify their downtown through the new Adopt-A-Banner program. There are several banners types to choose from which will be displayed in the downtown with the business, organization, or family name on them. The program is a result of a partnership between Thread City Development, the Town of Windham Public Works and Economic Development Departments. For more information, click here. 

Smart Growth America Offers Technical Assistance Workshops - Smart Growth America is offering a limited number of workshops to communities interested in creating vibrant, walkable neighborhoods. The workshops wills address goal setting and strategy development for achieving the community's goals. There is no charge for the workshops, but applications are due by October 21. 
DEEP Open Space Grant Info - DEEP has announced the next round of competitive grant funding to assist municipalities, land conservation organizations and water companies with the purchase and preservation of open space lands, urban green space and community gardens through the state of Connecticut's Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program (OSWA). The deadline for submitting an application is February 2, 2016.

The CT Land Conservation Council and the UCONN Extension Sustainable Food Systems and Master Gardener Programs are hosting an information session on October 29 featuring staff from DEEP's Office of Constituent Affairs/Land Management on the OSWA Grant and the Urban Green/Community Garden Grant Program. Click here for more info. 
President's Message - Downtown as a Job Benefit

Enfield recently held an Economic Development Summit which featured a panel discussion on Advanced Manufacturing. A common theme that quickly emerged among the speakers was a tremendous need for skilled manufacturing employees, noting that the lack of workers - not a lack of demand - is constricting their growth.
Setting aside many of the key factors contributing to this situation such as parents and teachers guiding more students toward a four-year college path and away from the trades, I couldn't help but see a link between healthy, vibrant downtowns and the shortage these manufacturers face. Many of the companies represented were located in Enfield and noted that being near transit, like the New Haven/ Hartford/Springfield rail line was a plus, as their workers could utilize the transportation system. Taking this a step further, it follows that ensuring our downtowns are robust and full of interesting amenities could serve as a further draw in attracting and retaining this needed talent. Offering a range of housing options located near transit and within a walkable distance of life's necessities like grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor's offices and more can only help to entice young workers - the type that Connecticut desperately needs, not just manufacturers.
Many of the State's community colleges are already doing an excellent job working with manufacturers, offering real-world training to help meet this demand. I encourage each of our members and all of Connecticut's municipalities to think about their downtowns not just as a community gathering place and economic driver, but also as a benefit of the job for each of the businesses and workers located in your city or town.

Connecticut Main Street Center

c/o Eversource

PO Box 270 

Hartford, CT 06141



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October 2015
Vol. 15/Issue 10

Upcoming Events
CCM Annual Convention  
October 20
Register & More Info

Smart Growth America Workshop Applications Due
October 21
Apply & More Info

Info Session on DEEP OSWA Grant
October 29
 More Info

CMSC Closed for
November 26

CMSC's Offices Closed
November 27