Economic Development Commission Hosts Business Roundtable Discussion

EDC Business Roundtable Discussion - June 12, 2019
EDC Business Roundtable Discussion - June 12, 2019

On June 12, 2019 thirty business owners, Town officials, and members of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) gathered at Westminster School to discuss issues facing business owners in the Town of Simsbury, and how the Town can help make it a better place to do business. From signage regulations to parking, the group discussed the challenges facing current business owners and those looking to open businesses here in Town – and what we can do to change it.

Town Culture
While Town officials are friendly and professional, participants described experiencing a culture of saying “no” to businesses that has previously hindered new projects.  Other challenges include parking and traffic control, signage restrictions, and communication between local and state government and businesses. Town Manager Maria Capriola has been working to foster a customer service-oriented approach in Town Hall, with a culture of “How Can We Help?” Conversations like these are the start.

So is the reconvening of the EDC, a seven-member advisory board to the Board of Selectmen. The purpose of the Commission is to promote and develop the economic resources of the Town and to advance the Town’s economic development goals as defined by the Board of Selectmen.  Members are appointed to three-year terms. The EDC organized this roundtable to solicit feedback and input from Simsbury business owners so that we can make effective recommendations for re-designing policies, creating incentives, and providing resources.  Roundtables will continue quarterly, with 25-30 businesses invited to each event on a rotating basis.    

There is So Much Going on in Simsbury!
In many towns, population is decreasing and development has stalled. But did you know that Simsbury is growing? Between 2010 and 2017, Simsbury’s population increased 6.2%.  In addition, there are many new developments in Town, including Aspen Green, Highcroft Apartments, the Ensign Bickford Aerospace and Defense expansion, Cambridge Crossing, the Tobacco Valley Solar development, and many more. Click here for the latest development update.

Communication was an overarching theme of the first roundtable. Not just between the Town and businesses, but also among the businesses and residents. There are great resources out there, such as  http://simsburyevents.com/, to inform folks of what there is to do and see in Simsbury.  In addition, there are many great resources for businesses here in Town that already exist.  For example, the Simsbury Public Library is home to the Business Resource Center, which provides resources for those looking to start or grow a business, job-seekers, and those in need of training and professional development opportunities.   

So now, we know. Spread the word! There is certainly a large part for the EDC and the Town to play in making Simsbury an even better place to do business, yet as residents and business owners there is something we can do right now: communicate. There are wonderful opportunities for businesses to collaborate on events and promote each other and current existing resources to help! Let’s shift the business culture from No to Yes – together.

Join a future roundtable – contact the EDC chair, Bob Crowther at rkcrowther@comcast.net, or the Town Manager’s Office at townmanager@simsbury-ct.gov for more information.