Labelled “confidential and proprietary,” the city of Danbury’s “Playbook” for becoming a “City of the Future” is posted on the official website for all to see. That playbook came to mind with the announcement earlier this month that CityCenter Danbury would be launching a media campaign this month to promote the city’s downtown.
The campaign will initially include two 15-second videos and photos posted to various well-travelled websites. Among those featured in the video are Mayor Mark Boughton, the Danbury Titans hockey team, the Palace Danbury, Connecticut Institute for Community and Western Connecticut State University, according to published reports. Additional videos featuring other businesses are to be featured later, as the campaign continues.
CityCenter Danbury is a partnership promoting Downtown Danbury, bringing together property owners, sponsors, businesses, non-profits, cultural arts, and volunteers.
“This campaign is to proactively go out and approach businesses to let them know downtown Danbury is the place to be,” P.J. Prunty, executive director of CityCenter Danbury, told the News-Times. “It’s the first time we’ve embarked on a specific campaign like this. We want to get businesses to plant their flag in downtown.”
According to Business Insider earlier this year, population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that Danbury grew more than any city in Connecticut from July 1, 2014 through July 1, 2015 going from 83,891 to 84,657, is a .9% population increase. That outpaced Stamford, Milford, Norwalk and New Haven, Connecticut’s five fastest growing cities.
Prunty said the campaign will specifically target lower Fairfield County and Westchester County, N.Y., to try to lure companies from those areas to downtown Danbury where the rents, city services, cost of living and taxes are lower, the News-Times reported. A targeted campaign on social media will emphasize the housing as well as business options downtown.
The campaign initiative will include brochures targeting young professionals and entrepreneurs, in an effort to increase their presence – living and working – in the city. “We’re trying to convey that now is the time to strike while the iron is hot. We’re focusing on business recruitment,” Prunty said.
Some would suggest the effort is an outgrowth from the city’s Playbook, which states its intent to “help the City get started with practical and tangible strategic moves, or “plays,” that the City can begin implementing. Six themes were highlighted in the 17-page guide, completed last year: governance, transformation of education, innovative service delivery, transparency, sustainability, and re-imagined quality of life.
The playbook, which focuses on changes to the way in which city government does business, also notes that “to be the City of the Future, we must become rich in spirit and culture, everready to overcome all challenges and realize all opportunities facing the 21st century city.” The report, prepared by the Connecticut-based consulting firm BlumShapiro, goes on to state that “by going above and beyond, Danbury is the creative and cultural center in the region.”
The playbook is included on the website of the city’s Office of Project Excellence, formed a year ago and led by Stephen Nocera, who previously was chief administrative officer in Stratford. The Office’s most recent Steering Committee meeting, in February (according to minutes posted on the city’s website) included items such as a new communications website, restaurant week and streetlight purchases.
As a member of the National Historic Preservation and the Connecticut Main Street Center, CityCenter follows the four principles of design, organization, promotion and economic restructuring. “We strive to accelerate the renewal of the city’s urban core, with quality of life as the underlying theme: building a lasting constituency for downtown; supporting investors, retailers and tenants while retaining those already downtown and making downtown clean, safe and attractive,” the organization’s website points out.
Danbury is certainly not alone among Connecticut communities – large and small – that are stepping up efforts to attract residents and businesses.
Neighboring New Milford announced plans last year to fund a branding and marketing effort with grant funds, spurred by local businesses seeking to draw more people to their downtown area. Local officials stressed that New Milford has the longest green of any town in Connecticut, along with historic architecture and an eclectic mix of shops and artistic offerings. The grant was issued through the Connecticut Main Street Center.
In lower Fairfield County, the city of Norwalk launched a rebranding initiative earlier this year. Using the new slogan “The Sound of Connecticut,” the campaign, according to Mayor Harry Rilling “was necessary to help reposition Norwalk. Our visual brand and identity system will become a recognized symbol of Norwalk’s progressive and connected vibe. We understand and live the brand’s values, goals and promises on a daily basis.” The Mayor added that “our brand strategy will influence and shape the way the community and others think, feel and respond to the City of Norwalk.”