On October 30, the City of Norwalk announced its new Small Business and Main Street Program to help support local businesses and enhance quality of life across the city. Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling made the announcement at a special press conference at City Hall.
The Small Business and Main Street Program is a $165,000 pilot program. Part of the pilot includes a storefront improvement program with matching grants up to $10,000 to help fund seating, signage, lighting, window replacement, and more. These are critical items to local businesses, but often are pushed aside for operational costs. Additionally, the pilot program will include a streetscape improvement program in the Wall Street area, with funding allocated for benches, flowers, planters, and more. The city will work with local businesses and stakeholders on a comprehensive plan for the area.
“We are so thrilled to announce this pilot program that will help our small businesses and enhance quality of life across Norwalk,” said Mayor Rilling. “We want to be responsive to our community, and be effective and efficient in addressing those concerns. I know this pilot program will make a difference across the city.”
The Small Business and Main Street Program also includes the creation of a special initiative management team that will plan and implement arts, innovation, and technology-based initiatives to further enhance quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors throughout the urban core. Some projects may include free public WiFi and arts and culture programming.
“I am very pleased with this initiative and what it means for our city. Facade improvements not only benefit Norwalk but help local businesses succeed,” said John Kydes, Common Council majority leader.
The Program also will fund compactor garbage and recycling receptacles along Wall Street and Washington Street. These receptacles will reduce the amount of waste that overflows from the current open containers and will help address problems with littering. The Economic and Community Development team is also working on a city-wide business inventory to improve communication to the local business community.
“We are pleased this program directly connects to the Plan of Conservation and Development that the Common Council recently passed,” said Tom Livingston, Common Council President. “I am supportive of this program and how it will help our small businesses.”
As part of the Mayor’s reorganization of city government, a new Economic and Community Development Department was created. This Department includes Business Development and Tourism, Neighborhood Improvement and Code Enforcement, Planning and Zoning, and Transportation, Mobility, and Parking. These departments coordinate with each other, and other city departments, on funding, resources, and timelines related to projects, initiatives and day-to-day operations, establishing a more effective and efficient local government structure for residents and businesses in Norwalk.
Funding for the program was requested through the new department during the budget process this spring and became available on July 1. To better inform the launch of the pilot program, the Economic and Community Development team has met with small businesses over the last six months to identify needs. The city then worked to identify gaps in services to support those needs, and developed the pilot program in response.
“The pilot program is meant to address the needs that we’ve heard to date, but we know we haven’t heard from everyone. The program will continue to evolve as we hear from more people on what they need to be successful,” said Jessica Casey, Chief of Economic and Community Development. “We are excited about the pilot program and look forward to implementing these initiatives this fall and throughout next year. I hope residents and businesses reach out to our team – we are here to help.”
Stay up-to-date with the Small Business and Main Street Program by visiting norwalkct.org. To reach the Economic and Community Development team, please email MAlvarado@norwalkct.org.