Meriden Re-Make Continues, Spurred by State Support; Additional Funds Sought to Implement Plan

The City of Meriden is seeking $2 million from the State of Connecticut to improve six roadway sections in downtown Meriden, to improve traffic flow, improve accessibility and increase safety for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians traveling within Meriden’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) zoning district. The grant application is the latest effort as part of the city’s “Meriden 2020 Bringing It Together” initiative, which is focused on transit oriented development to recapture the luster of the “Silver City”  and has received a steady flow of state funds in recent months to boost the effort.

The roadway sections - including Colony Street, West Main Street, State Street, Perkins Square/South Colony and East Main Street - were selected and analyzed for improvements in prior studies and investigations.  The initiative is an outgrowth of a two State of Connecticut TOD Pilot grants, a US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Sustainable Challenge grant and a HUD Choice Neighborhoods Planning grant.Hub_site_Feb_2016

A website,, highlights the numerous efforts underway to redevelop the city’s central business, including ways to resolve historic flooding issues, repurpose underutilized brownfield sites, remake the rail station area into a modern transportation center, and provide links to the regional trail system.

Meriden’s Transit Oriented Development program seeks to “transform the Meriden Transit Center (MTC) and the half-mile area around it into a vibrant neighborhood that includes new residential and commercial development, public spaces and improved access to public transportation.” Construction of the new transportation center is underway, and local officials recently initiated a study to examine planned ridership and usage by area residents and businesses.

Last week, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) and Department of Housing (DOH) announced approval funds meridenfor a proposed mixed use development project at 161-177 State Street, which is phase one of a multi-phase project that includes demolition of the Mills public housing project and implementation of the Harbor Brook Flood Control project north of the Hub site.   The new building will be within walking distance of Meriden`s new Transit center.

The proposed project will have 75-units of mixed-income family housing, with ground level retail space and a preschool. The property will include eight supportive units and 60 units targeted for households with incomes of 60 percent or less of Area Median Income (AMI). In addition, 26 of the 60 units will be supported by project based Section 8.

sealsIn February, the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC), the City of Meriden and The Midstate Chamber of Commerce announced the opening of the newest CTSBDC office, to be located at Meriden City Hall.

The new office is offering professional, confidential business advising to entrepreneurs in every stage of business and all industry sectors in the City of Meriden. “This beneficial partnership between the Connecticut Small Business Development Center and the City of Meriden ensures that entrepreneurs of the city have access to the necessary resources available to assist with starting or growing their business. This allows for economic growth and job creation in this area,” said CTSBDC State Director Emily Carter. CTSBDC also has a “virtual” location at the Meriden Public Library, where individuals can connect with CTSBDC advisors online.

In January, Meriden was awarded $100,000 in state funds to further revitalization and redevelopment in the TOD and Choice Neighborhoods target areas. The funding came through the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Brownfield Area-Wide Revitalization (BAR) Grant program, a year-old state pilot program that encourages communities to consider areas such as neighborhoods, downtowns, waterfront districts, or other sections with multiple brownfields and develop strategies to assess, clean up, and reuse the parcels for business, housing, and public amenities that will generate jobs and revenues and revitalize the entire area.Transit Center

Weeks later, the Department of Economic and Community Development awarded the Meriden a $2 million grant for the demolition and remediation of the Mills Public Housing Complex.  The city plans to demolish the structures at 144 Mills Memorial as a prerequisite to implementing the Harbor Brook Flood Control Plan at the site.  While the 144 Mills Memorial site will be used for flood control purposes and will not be used for development, officials say the construction of the flood control plan at the site will allow for development to proceed at the adjacent sites, which include the Meriden Hub Site (located at 1-77 State Street) and at the Mills Megablock site (located at 161-177 State Street and 62 Cedar Street).

Meriden officials point out that commuter rail service to Hartford and New Haven is scheduled to begin later this year.  The new commuter rail service is expected to spur significant “transit oriented development” in the city center.  Once the rail service is operational, nearly 140,000 workers located within one mile of a rail station will be able to commute to Meriden within a 40-minute ride, the website points out.

CT Receives Recognition for Economic Development

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development has received national recognition from a top site selector organization for its economic development efforts.  DECD was selected to receive the 2013 Site Selectors Guild Award for its work with Tronox Inc., a chemical company that announced in 2012 that it would be locating its world headquarters in Stamford.  The Site Sectors Guild is a professional association that includes some of the worlds most respected site consultants. The most recent recognition underscores ongoing efforts of DECD, which include highlighting Connecticut's strong position to attract and grow businesses.  Some of the noteworthy stats:

  • Connecticut is a leader in patents, ranking 8th in the nation.
  • Connecticut is a leader in business research and development, ranking #1 per capita.
  • Connecticut is a global competitor, ranking #6 in world GDP per capita.
  • Connecticut’s workers are among the most productive in the nation, ranking fourth among states.
  • Connecticut is a leader in venture capital deals, which are key to the development of small business, ranking #7.
  • The state ranks 9th in the nation as a leader in the New Economy.
  • Connecticut is a leader in finance and insurance, ranking #2 in total employment.
  • Connecticut is a leading exporter ranking tenth in per capita exports.
  • Connecticut has a highly educated workforce ranking third with an adult population with advanced degrees.
  • Connecticut ranks 6th in the number of scientists & engineers per 100,000 employees.

The data, provided by CL&P's Connecticut Economic Review 2013 and The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, reflects a mix of widely known and virtually unknown stats about Connecticut workforce and global position in a range of industries.

Small Business Development Center is Re-launched At UConn Campuses, Chambers of Commerce

The Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC), a collaborative initiative of the federal Small Business Administration (SBA), State of Connecticut and University of Connecticut, is being rebooted, redesigned and re-launched in an effort to be more responsive to the state’s small and newly-forming businesses. CTSBDC is a five-year, $11.6 million program to provide financial and technical assistance to businesses with 500 or fewer employees – which accounts for roughly 93 percent of Connecticut employers.

The initiative was announced by UConn’s Vice President for Economic Development Mary Holz-Clause and state Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Catherine Smith during Connecticut Business Day at the State Capitol.  They were joined by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, President and CEO of the Business Council of Fairfield County Chris Bruhl, UConn Board Chair and Middlesex Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh and business leaders from across the state.

“The new SBDC is designed to focus more like a private sector business: close to its customers, interconnected, efficiently using scarce resources, and offering a slate of innovative new services,” Bruhl said. “With a statewide network of 11 local SBDC offices, the Center strives to build the local ecosystem, recognizing that small business begins at the local level.”

The program will fund 16 full-time positions and two part-time positions, with individuals located at each of the 11 service centers, including seven local Chambers of Commerce and four regional UConn campuses, as well as the UConn cSBDCampus in Storrs, and the Department of Commerce Export Assistance Center in Middletown.

During the news conference, Holz-Clause pointed out that the University is an ideal home for the SBDC, as the power of UConn’s network of more than 100,000 alumni can be tapped to serve as both mentors and connectors for small businesses to ensure they are successful. In addition, the six regional campuses provide the SBDC with an established network of satellite sites that are already engaged in local, state, and national business development efforts. She also noted the work of organizations such as UConn Ventures, which are helping to launch new businesses based on research and innovation at UConn.

“UConn is really focused on growing Connecticut’s economy from the ground up,” said Holz-Clause. “That’s why this partnership is such a perfect fit for us. It builds on some of our existing strengths and gives us a front-row seat for truly exciting developments in the state’s business community.”

Governor Malloy pointed out that “The reinvigorated Small Business Development Center takes our economic development strategy to a new level, combining the academic strength and resources of our flagship university with the knowledge and reach of our chambers of commerce, to bring technical and financial assistance to the sector responsible for the overwhelming majority of our jobs: small businesses.”

The Small Business Development Center program, administered by the federal government’s Small Business Administration, has been providing service to small businesses for more than 30 years and is one of the largest professional small business management and technical assistance networks in the nation with over 900 locations across the country.  In Connecticut, it had been based at Central Connecticut State University and the Connecticut State University System in recent years.  Previously, UConn had hosted the program.

For more information regarding the SBDC and its programs, please visit the newly designed  website at To learn more about UConn’s Office of Economic Development, please visit



State's Small Business Program Targets Jobs, Economic Growth

When a survey of family owned businesses last year found almost two-thirds of respondents projecting sales and revenue growth in 2013, it appeared that optimism was on the upswing. This weeks’ news from Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) on the progress of the state’s Small Business Express Program, launched a year ago, may be a contributing factor. The Small Business Express Program (SBEP) supports the retention and growth of small business in Connecticut through a combination of loans and grants. SBEP incorporates a stream-lined process that provides financial assistance in the form of revolving loan funds, job creation incentives; and matching grants. The program is designed to provide small business with access to capital, support job creation, increase skill development and encourage private investment. SBEP loans and grants are intended to have a positive impact on the growth of the companies receiving the funds, and decd-logo-spelled-out-centeredcorrespondingly on Connecticut’s overall economy.

Slightly more than 1,607 businesses with 100 or fewer employees applied for loans or matching grants in the program's first year, according to state officials. DECD approved just over half of the applications, and the program is currently helping about 500 small businesses retain 4,616 jobs and to create another 1,738.

The DECD authorized $67.2 million in financing to 494 companies through Dec. 31 -- $27.5 million in loans and $39.7 million in grants. It has already received $412,130 in principal and interest payments. State officials are reviewing applications from another 271 businesses, for an additional $38.3 million.

Components of the program include:

  • Small Business Express Revolving Loan Fund - Loans are available at a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $100,000 to assist small businesses with capital and operational needs.
  • Small Business Job Creation Incentive Program - Deferred Loans are available at a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $250,000 to assist small businesses to spur growth. DECD may forgive all or part of loan based on the attainment of job creation goals.
  • Small Business Creation Matching Grant Program - Grants are available at a minimum of $10,000 and a maximum of $100,000 to provide a dollar-for-dollar matching grant for specific job creation, capital investment and working capital goals.

The SBEP program assistance has leveraged approximately $40 million in private investment, according to DECD figures. Some participating business owners have noted that banks became more willing to lend once the business is accepted into the program.