Small Businesses

Small Business Task Team

Objectives/Initiatives
9. Regional Complete Streets program
Adopt the "Complete Street" concept throughout the region to integrate infrastructure plans and improvements to allow for pedestrian and bicycle-friendly town, city and village centers that support small businesses of all types.
This Initiative Supports Goal 5 - Infrastructure, Goal 7 - Small Businesses, Services and Retail sector, and Goal 8 - Cross-cutting Downtown and Neighborhood Vitality

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Minutes - Board of Directors
Monday, November 16, 2015
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce

Attendees: Jocelyn Ayer, William Baxter, Bill Burgess, Frank Chiaramonte, Fran Delaney, Lou Helt, Bradford Hoar, Dick Labich, Leona LeJeune, Mark Lyon, Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Don Stein, Larry Sweeney, Sharon Waagner, Erin Wilson
Guests: Gary DellaRocco, Eric Erdtmann, Gina Scherbner, Tom Schoenemann, Tammy Warner, Walter Williamson, Bob Teittinen, Mark Waterhouse, Carole St. Mark (WEI)

I. Discussion regarding the NW CT Small Business Revolving Loan Fund
Guest speakers: Donna Wertenbach (current President/CEO) and Jim Bzdyra (future President/CEO) of the Community Economic Development Fund (CEDF).

- CEDF has been in operation for over 21 years with total assets over $40 million, a 97% repayment rate, and over $8 million available for loans.
- Through a partnership with NWCTEDC, CEDF (501c3) will be able to offer loan guarantees for small business clients not currently able to meet bank criteria.
 - Potential clients will be recommended by regional banks, SCORE members, Women's Enterprise Initiative (WEI) members and CT-SBDC.
- The fund will not compete with banks, but will support small business owners to make them more "bankable." Statewide banks helped to create CEDF to enable startups to become bankable. Credit scores are analyzed to determine the reasons for low scores.
- A free business advisor is provided with every loan. The business advisor acts as a mentor and guide to ensure success for the client.
-  CEDF also provides basic small business training (Quickbooks, marketing) for clients for a small fee (to cover costs).
 - CEDF does not do business plans, SCORE, WEI and SBDC assist with counseling and business plans.
- NWCTEDC will be providing $35,000 for loan guarantees to help underwrite loans to small business clients.
- The $35,000 is coming from the CT Business Development Corporation which is in the process of dissolving.
 - The funds will be placed with the CEDF guarantee program.
- CEDF will manage all transactions and underwriting and provide quarterly reports.
- CEDF does have income guidelines. Household income cannot exceed $86,000. Torrington and Winchester are eligible communities allowing for greater flexibility for loan recipients.
- The fund tries to improve the climate of the community. They will not fund projects that degrade a community.
- Successful businesses must give back to the community if they were assisted by the fund.

Don Stein made a motion to approve the Memorandum of Understanding and partnership between NWCTEDC and CEDF to create a NW CT Small Business Revolving Loan Fund guarantee program. Lou Helt seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.

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Minutes - Board of Directors
Monday, May 18, 2015
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce

Attendees: Bill Baxter, Bill Burgess, Frank Chiaramonte, Susan Clayton, David Dean, Fran Delaney, Ed Drapp, Jessica Fowler, Jason Giulietti, Lou Helt, Bradford Hoar, Mark Lyon, Rich Meinert, Ted Murphy, Doug Parker, Joann Ryan, Stephen Silver, Dwain Snow, Don Stein, Larry Sweeney, Sharon Waagner, Erin Wilson - Guests: Maggie Selby, Kevin Cannady, Tammy Warner, Al Galanty (Naugatuck RR), Marty Connor, Colin Pease (Housatonic RR)

I. NW CT Small Business Revolving Loan Fund
- The Board of Directors approved working with the Community Economic Development Fund (CEDF) rather than creating a new process for establishing a NW CT Small Business Revolving Loan Fund - Motion by Lou Helt to approve, seconded by Sharon Waagner, approved by those in attendance unanimously (22 of 40 BOD present).
- The Finance Committee and Executive Committee had previously (unanimously) agreed that working with CEDF is the best path forward to establishing a Small Business Revolving Loan fund for NW CT.
- Seed money will be provided by funds from the previous CT Business Development Corporation.
- Additional funds could be solicited to build the amount available to guarantee loans.
- Donna Wertenbach provided CEDF guidelines below.

NW CT Small Business Revolving Loan Fund
Community Economic Development Fund (CEDF)
Outline for the proposed Guarantee Pool for NW CT
1. The $35,000 will be held in a separate account. It will be used for guarantees to leverage CEDF loan pool capital. The guarantee will only be used when necessary to approve a loan and only in the designated communities.
2. All loans booked will be for loans not eligible for bank loans. CEDF will refer all bankable loan candidates to its participating banks.
3. CEDF will work with the collaborating partners to identify loan referrals
4. As loans are paid back, any loan guarantee previously assigned to that loan will be made available to future loan applicants. (i.e. The guarantee will function as a revolver.)
5. CEDF will provide all loan recipients with a free business advisor for the life of the loan. The advisor will meet with the client regularly, starting monthly, at their place of business.
6. CEDF will work with the collaborating partners to identify candidates for CEDF's business skills training. These workshops, should there be sufficient interest, will be held in Torrington.
7. CEDF will cover all of the operating expenses associated with #2 and #3 along with all costs associated with the lending function.
8. CEDF will keep detailed records on the program which will be available quarterly. This report will identify all loans in the designated area that have been approved and closed, their towns, the amount of the loan, where appropriate- the amount of the guarantee and the performance of the loan.
9. CEDF will seek a member of the group to sit on CEDF's Board and monitor the progress of the program.
10. CEDF will work with the group to identify additional resources that can be used to expand the program.

Donna Wertenbach
President/CEO
Community Economic Development Fund (CEDF)

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Minutes - Board of Directors
Monday, March 16, 2015
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce

Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Bill Burgess, Elinor Carbone, Frank Chiaramonte, Susan Clayton, Fiona deMerell, David Dean, Fran Delaney, Jason Giulietti, Lou Helt, Brad Hoar, Dick Labich, Leona LeJeune, Mark Lyon, Rich Meinert, Ted Murphy, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan, Steve Silver, Don Stein, Larry Sweeney, Sharon Waagner, Erin Wilson, Amy Wynn, Steve Zarrella, Deb Seidel, Tammy Warner, Leslie Cosgrove, Gina Scherbner, Kelly (intern @ Chamber)

III. NW CT Small Business Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) - Leslie Cosgrove
- Funds are from the Connecticut Business Development Corporation
- The funds can not be used for administrative purposes.
- The suggestion by Leslie is to use the funds to create a small business revolving loan fund for NW CT.
- Doug suggested the Community Economic Development Fund (CEDF) could administer the fund and provide loan guarantees which would leverage funding underwritten by CEDF.
- Total available will be $30,000 - $35,000
- We need to create underwriting criteria or model after existing organizations providing that service.
- We need to have a roundtable with all the local banks to discuss the process.
- It was suggested to refer this project to the Finance Committee to establish criteria for the 21 towns. They would then make a recommendation to the Board.

Amy Wynn made a motion to approve the Resolution below.
David Dean seconded the motion.
After discussion the motion was passed unanimously.
A quorum was present - 26 board members out of 40 were present and voted yes.

Resolution: The Board of Directors of the Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation on March 16, 2015, at which a quorum was present, adopted the following resolution:
VOTED: 26-0 in favor that
The funds received from the Connecticut Business Development Corporation will only be used to capitalize a revolving loan program, will not be used for administrative purposes and that the following is authorized to sign assurances on behalf of the corporation:
Douglass A. Parker
Name of Contract Signer
President & Executive Director
Title

V. Updates - Deborah Seidel of the Women's Enterprise Initiative
- She discussed the range of clients she has counseled, some are from non-profit organizations
- The four women involved with the Women's Enterprise Initiative have counseled over 100 individuals including both women and men.

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Minutes - Board of Directors
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendees:  Jocelyn Ayer, William Baxter, Bill Burgess, Elinor Carbone, Frank Chiaramonte, Susan Clayton, Fiona de Merell, David Dean, Lou Helt, Dick Labich, Dale Martin, Patricia Mechare, Rich Meinert, Ted Murphy, Doug Parker, Dwain Snow, Don Stein, Sharon Waagner, Erin Wilson, Maureen Puglio, Valerie Sedelnick, Sherri Dadomo, Carole Saint Mark, Edward Drapp, Kim Parsons-Whitaker, Tammy Warner

Focus: Small Businesses

I. CT Main Street Center - Kimberly Parsons-Whitaker
- There are currently 58 communities involved in CT Main Street Center programs.
- They focus on 'Downtowns' and 'Village Centers.'
- Two basic ways to be involved in their programs:
1. Downtown Management Program is a comprehensive program with a governing board, an executive director and staff, there are 5 of these in CT.
2. There are 24 'Member Communities' including municipalities, non-profit organizations and economic development commissions.
- The mission is to champion and advocate for downtowns and village centers.
- They provide resources, advice, guidance and suggest future directions.
- Community input is required, they train and educate civic leaders and business owners on how to promote the downtowns and village centers.
- The Main Street Center programs have been in operation for over 35 years in 44 states and 1,800 communities.

Four point approach:
1. Organization - Restoring civic value
2. Design - Restoring physical area
3. Promotion - Restoring social value
4. Economic - Restructuring - restoring economic value
- Historic preservation or national trust
- Place-based economic development strategies

How Revitalization Works:
1. Developing a vision & mission statement
2. SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)
3. Goal setting
4. Project identification
5. Work planning: projects, resources, partners
6. Implementation and communication

- Two successful case studies: Westville Village in New Haven and Sandy Hook Village in Newtown
- Cost to belong to CT Main Street is based on a sliding scale, but the average is about $300 per year. A new scale is being developed.

Considerations:
-     land-use policies, restrictive zoning regulations
-     stay focused on the local market
-     start locally & regionally
-     develop a simple, clean message
-     explore possibility of mixed used zoning for residential & commercial
-     desirable businesses include home furnishings, specialty clothing, specialty foods, dining venues
-     develop business friendly signage regulations
-     cooperative marketing - example is a passport where shoppers collect stamps or have cards punched when making a purchase

II. CT Main Street Programs in NW CT:
Torrington - Sharon Waagner
1. Sharon is the Executive Director of Torrington's Main Street organization
2. There is a board of directors including several members of the Torrington Economic Development Commission and the Torrington Development Corporation.
3. The main goal is to get people to come downtown and visit the stores and venues.
4. The networking has been very positive.
5. The group is all volunteers and does not have any funding.
6. They had a very successful activity including a scavenger hunt, more activities are being planned.
7. A perception of crime has been an issue, but the Torrington Police Dept. has been very helpful in providing a safe environment.

Winchester - Dick Labich and Dale Martin
1. A lack of volunteers has been the biggest factor.
2. Three different groups are involved with promoting the downtown area including the Winchester EDC, the Friends of Main Street and the Winsted Merchants' Association.
3. Currently the three groups are working together, that has not always been the case.

NW CT Regional Collaborative - Jocelyn Ayer
1. Eight Towns in NW CT, have raised over $2 million including a grant from the Community Foundation of NW CT
2. The purpose of the NW CT Regional Collaborative is to support the smaller towns in the northwest corner.
3. There are currently eight towns in the Collaborative including Kent, Sharon, Salisbury, Cornwall, Canaan, North Canaan, Goshen and Norfolk
4. The Collaborative recently received a grant from the state to support shared economic development staffing and services for the eight towns.
5. Four projects are currently under way:
a. Improved and consistent signage for all 8 towns
b. A shared economic development consultant for all 8 towns
c. Common messaging - branding and marketing and a website (secret corner)
d. Inclusion in the CT Main Street Center programs

III. NW CT Small Business Organizations:
Litchfield Area Business Association (LABA) - Ted Murphy
1. Over 140 businesses in Litchfield area including Bantam and surrounding towns.
2. Pressure from LABA members and a recent election have helped to provide a more business friendly environment in the Borough of Litchfield.
3. LABA is a networking organization that has been operating for about 15 years.
4. Lunch meetings are held once a month, usually on the 3rd Tuesday at the Litchfield Firehouse.

Litchfield Merchants Association - Jonathan Wilson
1. Businesses are now working together.
2. Instituted Litchfield's Night Out - decorate for Christmas
3. Branding the whole corridor from Litchfield to Bantam
4. Website was 15 years old. They are developing a new site and an APP
5. Work closely with LABA - 70 of the 100 LABA members attended a social.
6. LABA now has 144 members

Washington Business Association - Valerie Sedelnick
1. There are 5 villages within the town which can be challenging.
2. New Preston and Washington Depot have the largest concentration of businesses.
3. WBA sponsors a community day every year.
4. Social networking with the businesses has been very beneficial.
5. WBA created a directory of local businesses.
6. They sponsor a yearly holiday celebration in Washington Depot.

Women's Enterprise Initiative (WEI) - Carole St. Mark
1. WEI is comprised of four Litchfield women with extensive backgrounds in business.
2. They provide counseling and advice for women and men looking to start a new business.
3. They are a not-for-profit organization and provide services free of charge.
4. The web site is wei-nwct.net.

Leadership Northwest - Sherri Dadomo, NW CT Chamber of Commerce
1. Sherri is the program director for Leadership Northwest.
2. The program is offered by the NW CT Chamber of Commerce and has provided leadership training for numerous businesses and organizations in NW CT.
3. Participants work in teams to complete a project benefitting people and organizations in NW CT.

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Minutes - Board of Directors
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, William Baxter, Bill Burgess, Elinor Carbone, Frank Chiaramonte, Susan Clayton, David Dean, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, Brad Hoar, Dick Labich, Leona LeJeune, Rich Meinert, Ted Murphy, Doug Parker, Steve Silver, Sharon Waagner, Erin Wilson, Steve Zarrella, Lauren Smith, Lynn Gelormino, Ted Shafer, Sabrina Beck, Ed Drapp, Fran Keilty, Jessica Fowler, Stephanie Podewell, Peter Feen, Tammy Warner, Donna Wertenbach

I. The focus of the meeting was on Small Businesses

Peter Feen, Co-owner of Peter Beck Store (5 years, Salisbury) & NW CT Regional Planning Collaborative Small Business & Economic Development Coordinator
- Peter has been visiting small businesses in the 8 towns participating in the NW CT Regional Planning Collaborative, he shared his thoughts about those interactions.
- You must be forward thinking and positive to be successful as a business owner.
- Small business owners need to work together through networking opportunities and support each other.
- He suggested activities and events to help focus attention on the businesses.
- Activities help to generate interest, such as dog parades and wine tastings, they need to create synergy and help the business stay in front of the public.
- Most small businesses do not do a very good job with marketing. They should be budgeting 5-10% of net revenues to marketing, but frequently that money is used elsewhere.
- Attract new business you want in your town. Get established businesses to locate in your town (bookstore, coffee shop, etc.).
- Have good customer service and have items people want.
- Mentor new business owners.
- Marketing budget should be between 5-10%, but it is usually the first to go.
- On-line business is great, you don't want to rely solely on foot traffic, he suggested a regional online bazaar where small businesses could share a common web site.
- You need to promote your business.
- You need to be realistic about your market. Inventory management is crucial.
- Promote "Think Local First" to strongly encourage local support of local businesses.
- Join a business association.

Donna Wertenbach, President of the Community Economic Development Fund (CEDF - www.cedf.com - 888-835-2333)
- Donna spoke about how CEDF (based in Meriden) supports small businesses.
- CEDF is a non-profit operating for over 20 years. They provide lines of credit from $2,500 to $250,000 with interest rates ranging from 5¾-8%.
- They specialize in non-bankable businesses.
- They can provide capital in a more flexible manner than banks. They work closely with banks to improve the business' ability to apply for lower interest bank loans.
- They look at the business from a holistic standpoint and try to reduce the risks for the business by providing analysis and mentoring services.
- Free small business counseling is provided with an advocate to connect to appropriate resources.
- They provide classes on skills needed to run a business; i.e. bookkeeping services, they teach QuickBooks in small classes (maximum of 10).
- Participating in workshops reduces interest rates.
- They are a micro-loan provider with SBA ($50,000 and under).
- Try to get people away from using credit cards and improve their cash flow.
- They work in 55 eligible communities. You can also be eligible by income (below $89,400) if you are not in one of the eligible communities. Torrington is an eligible community.
- CEDF is funded by 21 investor banks and 2 private banks.

Tammy Warner, Business Advisor, Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
- Tammy described services available for small businesses provided by SBDC which is affiliated with UConn.
- SBDC is funded nationally by the Federal Small Business Administration (SBA).
- CT-SBDC is overseen by UConn with 12 business advisors state-wide.
- They provide free mentoring and management counseling services for small business owners including budget analysis and business plan development.
- SBDC also funds SCORE and the Women's Business Development Center (WBDC). They work closely with both SCORE and WBDC.
- Their main goal is to help small businesses grow by addressing root causes, usually cash flow problems.
- They connect small business owners with other programs and services and provide free management consulting services.
- They help businesses with cash flow problems to locate capital resources.
- They also work closely with the CT Dept. of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and the Small Business Express & Step-Up programs.

Jocelyn Ayer, NHCOG Community & Economic Development Director
- Jocelyn passed out a handout (below) describing some of the zoning challenges for small businesses and ways for local communities to support small business owners.

Supporting your "Main Streets" & Local Businesses
Checklist of Action Steps
Our town and village centers are the heart of our towns- they provide both goods and services to our residents and places to meet, socialize, and conduct business. Local businesses also create jobs and offset some of the tax burden on residential properties. Small businesses often struggle in small towns, profit margins are smaller and they have to draw customers from further away. Main Streets require investments in sidewalks, streetscaping, events, and marketing to stay attractive, competitive, and vibrant. What else can your town do to support its Main Streets and local businesses? Here is a short list of action steps for you to consider. Need help implementing any of these? Call Jocelyn!

Planning & Zoning Commission actions:
- Review and update the economic development goals and information from your town's Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD). Host a meeting of those who are charged with implementing your POCD's economic development goals to discuss what progress has been made and what resources are need to make additional progress.
- Adopt business friendly signage regulations.
- Don't allow first floor residential in your town center commercial zone(s) but do allow apartments that are accessory to the business use.
- Carefully consider parking needs on your 'Main Street'; provide site and use-specific flexibility, encourage shared parking.
- Make your permitting process as friendly and streamlined as possible, pre-application meetings are helpful.
- Invite business owners to a planning meeting to discuss specific zoning regulations they find to be barriers to their growth or prosperity.
- Encourage home based businesses by simplifying and clarifying home based business regulations, especially in town centers.
- Support agricultural businesses! (See Farm Friendly Town checklist)

Board of Selectman actions:
- Appoint/designate a single point of contact for any inquiries from existing or potential businesses about starting or expanding a business in town. This could be you or the chair of your economic development committee or the zoning enforcement officer but whoever it is it should be widely known (note on town website and in town directory) that this person will help walk businesses though the permitting process and answer any questions about incentives for starting or expanding a business in town.
- Have a town e-newsletter or listserve this can be quarterly or monthly and residents can sign up to receive it on your town website. This newsletter can then be used to communicate plans for supporting Main Street and local businesses (among many oththings) and celebrate successes. A hard copy of the newsletter can be available at town hall. You could ask for at least annual submissions from each town commission/committee providing an update on their work and/or notice of events.
- Read the  "Holman Doctrine"  (below) and consider steps your town can take to be
perceived as more business friendly by existing and potential new businesses.
- Consider hosting an incubator business space in a vacant town owned building (Jocelyn will work with you on this).

Local business group or economic development commission actions:
- Create/update a directory of local businesses- post list on town website if possible.
- Send out a "buy local" postcard to all households in Town directing people to the town website to find a list of local businesses they can support.
- Educate residents on the importance of supporting local businesses and attracting new businesses.
- Promote farms, farmers markets, and restaurants that serve locally grown
- Make sure local farms, farmers markets, and restaurants are on your list of businesses. Consider creating a brochure or postcard to send to residents on the economic and aesthetic value of agriculture to your town and directing them to where they can buy locally grown products.
- Promote art- public art on 'Main Streets' creates a sense of place and invites people to stop and look. Consider events like "Paint the Bridge Day" or facilitating a public art installation.
- Promote visitors- make sure town events are listed on visitCT.com, remember to draw new people to an event at least 10% of the event budget should be for marketing. Participate in regional tourism promotion efforts (discovernwct.com, litchfieldhills.com) and coordinate shared marketing between businesses and other groups.
- Be an advocate. Attend Board of Selectman and Planning & Zoning Commission meetings when related issues arise at those meetings. Support new business proposals that support the goals in your POCD. Advocate for addressing Main Street and business infrastructure needs in the town budget (water, sewer, sidewalks, benches, street trees, broadband access, cell phone access).
- Review and update the economic development goals and information from your towns POCD. Create/refine a list of assets your town has that could help attract new businesses and consider ways of building upon these assets.
- Attend a NWCT Economic Development Corporation meeting to participate in regional  economic development strategies that include your town.
- Consider tax incentives. Towns are allowed by state statute to offer a very specific set of tax incentives (ask Jocelyn for the list). Consider advocating that the town offer these incentives. Create a business incentives resource list for the designated single point of contact in your town for businesses.
- Coordinate a business clustering strategy. "Pretty streets and buildings are just lipstick on a hog if there are not enough destinations or a viable mix of service-oriented uses to attract people in the first place. A business cluster is a group of shops or services that are designed to either specialize in a certain retail sector or offer a balanced variety of retail services. Business clusters often occur naturally in downtowns, but economic development programs or chambers of commerce can proactively identify cluster gaps and recruit businesses to fill those gaps." -Fostering a Vibrant Local Economy, Heart & Soul, Orton Family Foundation

Actions businesses can take
- Collaborate and co-market with other businesses in your town & region. (ask Jocelyn for some specific examples of how local businesses in our region are doing this).
- Visit your Planning & Zoning Commission and BOS to tell them what you need to keep or grow your business.

Funding programs to support Main Streets & local businesses:
> Main Street investment Fund- this is a State program that provides grants of up to $500,000 to small towns for town commercial center improvements including exterior building improvements, signage, lighting, landscaping, and sidewalks.
> Small Town Economic Assistance Program- this is another State program that provides grants of up to $500,000 to small towns for economic development, community conservation, and quality of life projects.
> Façade improvement programs- some towns have façade improvement program to provide matching funds to 'Main Street" businesses to improve their building's exterior appearance.

Publications/Resources:
Heart & Soul: Fostering a Vibrant Local Economy (2014) Orton Foundation (www.orton.org)

Village Center Vitality (2010) Strategies & Current Conditions Report NWCT Regional Planning Collaborative (www.nwctplanning.org)

NWCT Visitors website www.discovernwct.com
NWCT Regional Planning Collaborative-example of 8 towns collaborating to promote visitors & supporting local businesses

CT Main Street Center (www.ctmainstreet.org)

"We want to located where we are wanted, where government appreciates our contribution to the economy, and values local ownership, where people understand that it is a good thing for the community if we make money. We want to work with officials who are focused on growing the economic pie, and who value our business activity because we export goods and services outside of the region yet the profits stay in the region. We want local government to create a favorable playing field for all business activity, and to be active in keeping track of the "customer satisfaction level" of its businesses. We want to be in a town where government is strategically focused on providing a business friendly place." -The Holman Doctrine

Want to implement one of these ideas but don't know where to start?
Contact Jocelyn (jayer@northwesthillscog.org).

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Minutes - Executive Committee
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Bill Baxter, Elinor Carbone, David Dean, Rick Lynn, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan, Erin Wilson, Don Stein, Sabrina Beck, Dick Labich, Pat Mechare, Ned Moore

II. Task Team Updates
Small Businesses: Jocelyn Ayer
1. Doug indicated that the next two NW CT EDC Board meetings will be focused on Small Businesses.
2. Doug also suggested a schedule change to facilitate the back-to-back meetings on Small Businesses.
3. BOD: small businesses - Wed., Sept. 17 (8-9:30am, NW CT Chamber)
4. BOD: small businesses - Tues., Oct. 14 (8-9:30am, NW CT Chamber)
5. Exec. Mtg. - future directions - Tues., Nov. 18 (8-9:30am, NW CT Chamber)

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NWCTEDC Minutes - Executive Committee
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Elinor Carbone, Rich Meinert, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan

I. Task Team Updates
Small Businesses: Jocelyn Ayer
1. Jocelyn said the NW CT Regional Planning Collaborative is conducting a survey of small business owners in the smaller 8 towns involved with the collaborative to determine current issues, concerns and needs.
2. She has been working with multiple state agencies and other organizations to try and support their efforts.
3. Doug suggested a future NWCTEDC Board meeting focus on small businesses.
4. Jocelyn suggested CPACE, SCORE, DECD and several other agencies for involvement in that meeting.
5. JoAnn talked about the NW Ambassadors program at the Chamber which includes representatives from multiple towns and organizations.
6. Jocelyn and Doug will work together to plan for the speakers for NWCTEDC.

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NWCTEDC Minutes - Board of Directors
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Susan Clayton, Patricia Mechare, Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, William Baxter, David Dean, Ted Murphy, JoAnn Ryan, Rich Minert, Joann Brogis, Jocelyn Ayer, Frank Chiaramonte, Leona LeJeune, John Maxwell, Richard Labich, Bill Burgess, Lew Chappel, Fiona de Merell, Lou Helt, Rick Lynn, Stephen Silver, Larry Sweeney, Susan Dichter, Rob Michalik

II. Task Team Reports
G.    Small Business, Finance, Retail- Jocelyn Ayer
- Met with SCORE and decided to re-package data to be used by potential new business owners, specifically the demographics by town, to make it easier for them to find.
- Anthea Disney: spoke on behalf of the Women's Enterprise Initiative- hardest part is trying to refocus clients and tell them if their business idea just simply is not an opportunity. Suggested the need for a central database of state funding.

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NWCTEDC Minutes - Board of Directors
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Susan Clayton, Patricia Mechare, Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, Don Stein, Amy Wynn, William Baxter, David Dean, Ted Murphy, Guy Rovezzi, JoAnn Ryan, Rich Minert, Joann Brogis, Tim Abbott, Jocelyn Ayer, Frank Chiaramonte, Leona LeJeune, Dale Martin, John Maxwell, Rose Ponte, Deb Wheeler, Gina Scherbner, Marty Marola, Richard Labich, Salvatore Sorce, Barry Ginsburg, Tom Schoenemann, Bill Burgess, Vance Taylor

4. NW CT Opportunity Fund
Guest Speakers: Barry Ginsburg & Sal Sorce
- Created because there is a crisis of joblessness and lack of economic opportunity
- Sal & Barry are co-founders, both have backgrounds in investments and business valuations
- Investors are full time and part time residents of NW CT who want to "do good"
- Developing a $10 million investment fund to invest in businesses in order to provide jobs and profits for the business and investors
- The group is looking at several investments plan to make their first investment at the beginning of January
- Their minimum investment will be $500,000
- Modeled after a similar investment group in Great Barrington who raised $5 million for investments
- The ideal company for them to invest would have at least $500,000 in revenue, however, they will also consider start-ups
- Contact info attached

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NWCTEDC Minutes - Executive Committee
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: JoAnn Ryan, Lauren Smith, Bill Baxter, Lew Chappel, Rose Ponte, Leo Paul, Doug Parker, Lou Helt, Domenic Carazza, Rick Lynn, Rich Minert, David Dean, Jocelyn Ayer

II. Task Team Reports
G.  Small Businesses, Finance, Retail
1.     Doug Parker gave the update.
2.     Small business makes up about 70% of the local economy and we need to figure out how to support them.
3.     This group has not been formed, Tom Schoenemann stepped down as Chair of this task team.

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NWCTEDC Minutes - Board of Directors
Thursday, May 19, 2011
NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance:  Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Bob Axelrod, Lou Helt, Bill Baxter, David Dean, Susie Clayton, Fran Delaney, Ted Murphy, John Norman, Guy Rovezzi, Bob Whelan, Tom Schonemann, Bruno Bagnaschi, Anthea Disney, Cindy Donaldson, Lauren Smith, Larry Sweeney, Gina Scherbner, Sue Voghel, Shelley King and Lillian Neale

I. Impact of recent changes in banking regulations
Guest speakers: Paul McLaughlin (Senior Vice President, Litchfield Bancorp) and
Jay Lent (President & CEO, Union Savings Bank)

How have recent changes in banking regulations affected your bank?
Jay Lent: As a result of the financial crisis in 2008 the entire banking sector has undergone dramatic changes which can best be described as creating a very "hostile banking environment." The perception within the banking community is that federal regulators are hard on all of the banks regardless of size. There is also a perception that regulators would rather see the total number of banks reduced to make it easier for them to regulate. There also seems to be a more positive bias toward larger banks and almost a punitive attitude toward smaller banks.

Paul McLaughlin: Litchfield Bancorp has had to hire additional staff to comply with the new regulations. This requires moving staff from customer service to compliance positions. He pointed out that the previous regulations were less than 50 pages and the new Dodd-Frank regulations are 2300 pages.

Both Litchfield Bancorp and Union Savings Bank are state sanctioned mutual banks and not nationally chartered federal banks. Mutual banks do not have shareholders concerned about stock performance which allows them to operate more independently without constant scrutiny by stock holders. However, both banks are subject to federal regulations which have usurped state control and regulation.

Both indicated that the cost of compliance has dramatically increased, requiring bank resources to be diverted from customer service. Both banks would prefer to allocate more resources to customer service rather than compliance with federal regulations.

What impact have mortgage foreclosures had on your bank?
Both banks have acted responsibly and did not issue risky mortgages to clients. Neither bank was involved with sub-prime lending practices or bundling high risk mortgages with low risk mortgages to provide investment options. The foreclosure rate for both banks is less than 2%. They both made it clear that they work closely with customers to avoid foreclosure. Foreclosure is highly undesirable and can prove costly to the banks. They are both concerned with the employment situation which directly impacts the ability of customers to pay their mortgages.

Realtor Ted Murphy added that the large number of foreclosures has had a direct impact on the real estate sector. He is experiencing lower prices and an increased number of short sales to avoid the foreclosure process. Ted feels that sellers are not realistic about the current pricing structure which has changed as a result of the increased number of foreclosures. Sellers will need to adjust prices downward to match buyer expectations.

Both bankers agreed that the increased inventory of existing houses has had a negative affect on the construction sector. New homes are not being built as rapidly since there is already a large inventory of existing houses on the market. Northwest CT has a lot of home-based contractors linked to housing construction and this has been a very challenging time for many of them.

What are the major challenges facing your bank over the next five years?
Both Jay and Paul predicted challenging times for banks and the housing industry over the next five years. They predict structural unemployment in the housing and construction sectors to remain high until the market has stabilized. Paul and Jay were both proud of their banks' status as mutual banks with state rather than national charters. Mutual banks are not publically traded companies and do not need to satisfy shareholder expectations. Their customers are their number one concern and they are both focused on customer service as the primary driver of banking policy and decision making.

They are concerned about a high unemployment rate and the ability of current customers to meet their loan obligations, but they work actively with customers to avoid loan defaults.

The increased number of regulations has also caused both banks to increase staffing to comply with regulations. They both would prefer to add staff for customer service rather than regulatory compliance. They were optimistic that their respective banks would work through the current regulation process and maintain strong financial positions.

How does your bank support businesses in NW CT?
Both banks have maintained a conservative lending policy and are adequately capitalized. They have money to lend and they encourage small businesses to contact them with their financial needs.

They also emphasized their strong commitment to supporting local communities through grants supporting non-profit organizations. They commit about 12% of their net income to supporting community projects. This is slightly down from the previous 15% based on a lower income stream related to mortgage issues.

They both feel that as a whole Litchfield County has a strong financial base and they are pleased to be working in a region with a predicted stable financial future. Consumer confidence is considered the primary driver of the local economy. Once the employment and housing issues have stabilized, they both forecast a stronger rebound for the region economically.

Thomas Hoening, retiring president of the Kansas City Federal Reserve has publicly stated that if banks are determined to be too big to fail, they should be broken up.
-     your thoughts?

Neither Jay nor Paul felt it was necessary to break up banks deemed "to big to fail" preferring to let free market forces determine those issues. They did favor two separate sets of regulations for smaller banks and larger banks. Smaller banks operate in a different manner than larger banks, but current federal regulations treat them equally. This has caused the smaller banks to designate a significantly higher percentage of their staff to regulatory compliance than the larger banks. They are both concerned with the current banking environment which is characterized by excessive regulation and would encourage a more business-friendly, free market approach.

II. Updates
Anthea Disney provided an overview of the "Women's Enterprise Initiative" a new group (one year old) organized to support small business development, particularly those of women working at home or serving as the primary financial source of income for their children. The four women involved have considerable business expertise and help to guide prospective new business owners through the process of developing a business plan or seeking financial support. They have been busy and have worked with both male and female clients to guide them through the early stages of developing a small business.

Tom Schoenemann from SCORE reiterated the commitment of SCORE to work closely with WEI and small business owners to provide counseling for small business owners. Local banks encourage small business owners to work with SCORE counselors when applying for business loans.

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NWCTEDC
Minutes - Board of Directors
Friday, May 1, 2009 - 8:00 am  
Washington Town Hall, Washington, CT
Attendance: Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Dan McGuinness, Tim Abbott, Chuck Conn, Carolle Jenkins, John Kiker, John Maxwell, Ted Murphy, Don Stein, Cindy Donaldson, Chris Vita, Arthur Bogen, Anthea Disney, Karen Paradis, Sal Galasso, Dan Sherr, Mark Waterhouse, Fran Keilty, George Krimsky, Christine Afiouni, Peter Aziz, Bob Whelan, Valerie Sedelnick, Kathy McGarry, Jack Coraggio, Susan Graham and Jim Graham

Welcome to Washington, CT
First Selectman, Mark Lyon welcomed everyone to Washington, CT.  He provided a quick overview of the town.  Washington is made up of five villages - Washington Depot, Washington Green, New Preston, Woodville and Marbledale.  The town has three different zip codes (Washington Depot, New Preston/Marbledale and Washington).  The population is about 3,700 with numerous part-time residents (20-40% depending on the season).  Home prices currently on the market range from $279,000 to $9,900,000.  Affordable workforce housing is an issue because of the high costs.  There are four Independent Schools (Washington Montessori, Devereux-Glenholme, Rumsey Hall and the Gunnery) which have a direct impact on the local economy.  The non-residential tax base is estimated to be lower than 10% with a residential tax base of 90% or higher.

Washington Business Association
Fran Keilty, President of the Washington Business Association, provided an overview of local businesses.  Association members are represented throughout the five villages and include 35 retail stores, 12 professional offices (doctors and lawyers), 9 financial service offices, 11 restaurants/cafes, 8 home-based businesses and 9 non-profits.  Affordable housing is a major challenge for the workers in the predominately service sector local economy.  There are major efforts to maintain existing levels of farming and residential property through the acquisition of open space by the town and private non-profit organizations.

Fran described the efforts of the Association to encourage shopping locally and a diversified town center.  The recent loss of a local pharmacy is one the more severe challenges to the local economy.  With the recent downturn in the economy, people are spending less which directly affects the local economy.  Hiring and retaining good employees is becoming increasingly challenging.

Bio-Fuel
Peter Aziz, President of Bantam Fuel, provided an overview of the current trends in using alternate energy sources to supplement petroleum products.  Soy is a locally grown crop used as a an additive to enhance the efficiency of "bioheat" a type of biodiesel fuel used by Bantam Fuel.  Bioheat uses a 3% non-petroleum oil mixture.  (Animal and/or vegetable oils can be used as a non-petroleum supplement.) Peter recommended www.biodiesel.org for additional information.  Steve and Nick Solley grow soy on their Washington farm, but were not able to attend the meeting.  With the continuing loss of dairy farms, there is great interest in exploring the economic viability of soy as a cash crop in the region.

Economic Impact of Independent Schools on Local Economies
Susan Graham, Head of School at the Gunnery, described the relationship of the Gunnery with the local community.  The Gunnery has 300 students from 20 different states and 13 different countries.  There are 80 day students and 40 international students.  The school was established by Frederick William Gunn in 1850 and has been in continuous operation for 159 years.  40% of the students receive some type of financial aid.  With the current economic downturn, it has been very challenging to match budget projections.  The Gunnery employs over 100 people and produces $2.2 million for the local economy.  Affordable housing is one of the key challenges for the school.  The 59 faculty members seek local housing options, but often find it impossible to afford the high prices in the immediate area.

Mayflower Inn
Christine Afiouni, Director of Sales, described the relationship of the Mayflower Inn with the local economy.  The Mayflower Inn is a major employer in the town of Washington.  It is a five star inn and attracts visitors from all over the world to the region.  The Independent schools have a close relationship with the inn and parents frequently use it for parent weekends and homecoming activities.  Christine offered a tour after the meeting.

Submitted by
Doug Parker
President/Executive Director
www.nwctedc.com
info@nwctedc.com
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