Best Bargain for Retirees? Waterbury Ranks 10th in the USA

Headed towards retirement?  Keep Waterbury in mind.  A new ranking of the best bargains for retirees has the Brass City holding down the final slot on the top ten list.  The list, developed by the website GO Banking Rates and running on the CBS Moneywatch website, ranks Waterbury as the 10th best town in the country for retirees. waterbury imageThe site said of Waterbury: “Waterbury is in New Haven County on the Naugatuck River, close to Hartford and New York City. Waterbury has a colonial history with historic houses, and the downtown is clean and has many trees. You will find art and cultural events, and great health care facilities.”

A 2015 report by the Government Accountability Office found that about half of households led by people ages 55 and older have no retirement savings at all. Among households with retirement savings, the median amount of those savings is just $104,000 for households ages 55-64, and $148,000 for households ages 65-74. Such modest savings make it difficult to keep up with expenses during retirement. Americans 65 years of age or older average nearly $44,686 in annual expenses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And Waterbury, apparently, can make those dollars go further.  The GOBankingRates website ranking considered several local factorretireess, including:

  • Housing — rental prices for a one-bedroom apartment, rounded to nearest dollar.
  • Percentage of retirees — in the local population as of April 1, 2010.
  • Walkability — scores ranging from 25 for Montgomery, Ala., to 65 for Allentown, Pa.
  • Safety factors — scores ranging from 6 for Rochester, N.Y., and Louisville, Ky., to 30 for Boise, Idaho.

Each city was given a weighting for each of the criterion and was ranked based on the overall score.  The top 20:

  1. Boise, Idaho
  2. El Paso, Texas
  3. Allentown, PA
  4. Grand Rapids, MI
  5. Champaign, IL
  6. Charlottesville, VA
  7. Lincoln, NE
  8. Bloomington, IN
  9. Cedar Rapids, IA
  10. Waterbury, CT
  11. Colorado Springs, CO
  12. Missoula, MT
  13. Rochester, NY
  14. Greensboro, NC
  15. Fort Worth, TX
  16. Billings, MT
  17. Phoenix, AZ
  18. Lexington, KY
  19. Omaha, NB
  20. Columbus, OH

The City of Waterbury’s website highlights “the sense of neighborhood identity and pride is so important that Waterbury has some of the most active neighborhood associations in the state.”  The site explains that “their efforts focus on protecting the small-town character and livability of their communities as they plan neighborhood block parties, concerts and beautification projects.  And with over twenty distinct and diverse neighborhoods-- many with their own commercial center, park, school, and sports associations-- there is truly a place for everyone in Waterbury.  These well-preserved and diverse neighborhoods are often recognized as one of the city's greatest assets.”

The original settlement of Waterbury – the 9th largest city in New England - dates back to 1674 and the city's name is reference to its proximity to the Naugatuck River and its many tributaries which flow through the heart of the city.

Top Main Street Revitalization Initiatives in Connecticut Named

Manchester, New Britain, Waterbury, Seymour and the Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative are being highlighted by the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) for their strategic downtown revitalization initiatives.

As recipients of the organization’s 2014 Awards of Excellence, the efforts include a community college partnering with the downtown and others to create a co-working space; connecting the Naugatuck River with the downtown through extended trails and a linear park; and regionalizing marketing for a collection of small village centers.

The annual  Connecticut Main Street AwardCT Main Street LOGOs of Excellence were created in 2003 to recognize outstanding projects, individuals and partnerships in community efforts to bring traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts back to life, socially and economically. All of the award recipients continue the tradition of stimulating economic development and reinvigorating Connecticut's social centers, officials said.

"Our members continually inspire us with how creatively they respond to the needs of their community," said CMSC President & CEO John Simone. "They're deeply committed to every aspect of their downtown - the businesses, public spaces, local institutions, and above all, creating a place that people really enjoy living in and visiting. We couldn't be happier with how this year's winners represent all we stand for in downtown revitalization."

Submissions were judged on criteria which included innovation, replication, representation, partnerships utilized, and outcomes.  The awards will be presented at the 2014 Connecticut Main Street Awards Gala on June 9th at Roia Restaurant in downtown New Haven.  Award recipients, by category, are:

Events & Programming

Award of Excellence for Wine on Main St. to Main Street Waterbury, Terry Boyd, Braza Churrascaria, Courtyard by Marriott, Diorio's Restaurant, Shamrock Pub & Grill, Tryst Lounge, Signature's Restaurant, City Hall Café, Howland Hughes Center, and Nutmeg Fine Wine & Spirits.

Marketing & Communications

Award of Excellence for Discover NW CT to Northwestern CT Regional Planning Collaborative (representing the Towns of Sharon, Falls Village, Goshen, Cornwall, Canaan, Salisbury, Kent, and Norfolk), Studio Two, local business owners in the eight towns in the "Secret Corner", and local historical societies.

Public Space

Award of Excellence for Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain to Downtown Streetscape Working Group, the City of New Britain (including the Mayor's Office, Public Works, Planning and Parks Departments), New Britain Downtown District, Polonia Business District, Central Connecticut State University/ITBE, Capitol Region Council of Governments, and Project Consultant Team.

Renewed Commitment to Main Street

Award of Excellence for Seymour Downtown Action Strategy to the Town of Seymour, Seymour Economic Development Commission, Seymour Downtown Committee, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, Naugatuck River Greenway Steering Committee, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, Downtown Merchants Association, Planimetrics, Milone and MacBroom; CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Main Street Partnership

Award of Excellence for Axis901 and MCC on Main (Manchester) to First Niagara Bank, Manchester Community College (MCC) Foundation, and the Town of Manchester (Board of Directors and Staff).

Economic & Business Development

Award of Excellence to The Business Women of Grand Street (Waterbury) to The Dutch Flower Lady, Technology Forensics, John Bale Book Company, Fine Craft Jewelers, Dottie's 2, Princess Lingerie, Brass City Market on Field, and Fashion Addict.

Nation's Mayors Award Hartford, Waterbury for Work Promoting Youth Jobs, Exercise

The mayors of two of Connecticut’s major cities – and their communities – had moments in the spotlight at the just-concluded annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM)  in Washington, D.C.

Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra won first place for medium/small cities in the organization’s 1st Annual National SummerYouth Jobs Challenge. The award honors the outstanding achievements in innovative partnerships between cities and local business and non-profit communities to help provide youth with meaningful summer job experiences.

Mayor Neil M. O’Leary accepted a first place award for Waterbury’s Kid’s Marathon Program.  The organization gave six awards to mayors of cities with outstanding programs that encourage healthy weight through balanced diet choices and regular physical activity.  As the top selection, Waterbury receives a $120,000 grant that will support the 2014 Kid’s Marathon Program, a partnership between the YMCA, City of Waterbury, Department of Education, Boys and Girls Club, Police Activity League (PAL) and Connecticut Association of Schools, aimed at introducing the sport of running to youth ages 7-12, over a 12-week period and at no charge to the participants.mayors conf

Approximately 250 mayors, USCM business council members, USCM Workforce Development Council members and other workforce development professionals from major cities across the country attended the annual meeting.  The award was presented to Hartford at Thursday morning’s plenary session, which included remarks by Segarra, Louisville Mayor Gwaterburyreg Fischer, U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Since taking office in 2010, Segarra has invested regularly in youth employment programming, leverageing state and foundation funds to further expand work opportunities for young people. In 2013, the Mayor secured $1.25 million that put nearly half of the 2,056 youth in the region to work, officials said.  Additionally, in conjunction with four other regional mayors, he spearheaded an “unsubsidized” youth employment campaign, aligned with the Obama administration’s Youth Jobs + effort, which resulted in an additional 208 employer-paid positions.

Segarra was joined at the mayor’s conference by  Capital Workforce Partners President and CEO, Tom Phillips who was the 2012 President of the U. S. Conference of Mayor’s Workforce Development Council, and whose organization is instrumental in finding worksites and providing career competencies for over 2,000 youth in the North Central Connecticut region each summer.

Among the ten Connecticut Mayors registered to attend the conference in addition to Segarra and O’Leary were Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, Stratford Mayor John Harkins, West Haven Mayor Edward O’Brien, Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc, Fairfield Mayor Michael Tetreau, and Stamford Mayor David Martin.  The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more.  There are 1,399 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official.

segarraThe Kid’s Marathon Program is designed to target city youth lacking in physical activity and good nutrition habits.  Students run 1-2 miles, two or three times per week, completing a cumulative 26.2 mile marathon over the course of the program.  They also receive positive and practical guidance on nutrition that helps foster long-term healthy eating behaviors.  In 2013, the program’s first year, 438 students participated, with the culminating 1-mile run occurring at Crosby High School before a crowd of family, friends and supporters.

USCM also recognized Eugene Morton, a Hartford resident who participated in employment opportunities created through Segarra’s youth initiatives. A 2007 graduate of Hartford’s Sports and Medical Sciences Academy, Morton is a Marketing major at Central Connecticut State University with a 4.0 average. In 2013, he took advantage of a summer employment opportunity at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center and was one of 13 college students who participated in the summer youth employment program offered at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in partnership with the Blue Hills Civic Association.

Mayor O’Leary and Waterbury were recognized with the first place award for their collaborative efforts on launching the Kid’s Marathon Program with the Rod Dixon Kid’s Marathon Foundation. The grant awards were divided into small, medium and large city categories, with first place and second place awards given in each category.  Waterbury placed first in the “medium city” category; the second place finisher was Little Rock, AR. The grant program is the result of a partnership between USCM and the American Beverag06-09-12-kids_05-300x229e Association (ABA), to support and/or enhance mayors’ ongoing childhood obesity prevention programs in their cities.    A total of $445,000 in grants was awarded to support both new and existing programs.  Denver, CO and Dallas, TX (large cities) and York, PA and Monrovia, CA (small cities) were the other recipients.

Last fall, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and Partner America awarded Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra their small business advocate of the year award.  The USCM presented Segarra with the award during the Greater New England Minority Supplier Development Council Expo, at the Connecticut Convention Center.  The organization credited Segarra for launching the iConnect storefront revitalization project, quickening the pace of city permit approvals, investing $500,000 in façade improvements and awarding over $100,000 to 16 local artists and small businesses.  At the time, the mayor's office said the city has gained 134 small business and 200 jobs since 2010.


Developing Downtown Housing Above Commercial Space Brings Obstacles, Opportunities, New CT Report Finds

Connecticut's downtowns have a wealth of potential to redevelop under-utilized buildings into housing above commercial space - if mixed-use development can be encouraged through financing and favorable regulations, according to a new report from the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC).

The report comes at the conclusion of the first year of Come Home to Downtown, a pilot program CMSC established to encourage and facilitate viable, interesting housing opportunities while revitalizing downtown neighborhoods.  The initiative was contracted by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) to promote housing in Connecticut's downtowns.

Three communities - Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury - as well as three property owners and their buildings, were selected as the focus of the program’s inaugural year. CMSC chose buildings typically found throughout Connecticut so they could serve as models for other towns. As a result, most of the findings expressed in the report apply to any Connecticut downtown wishing to maximize the potential of its existing infrastructure.Come-Home-logo-150x150

Among the key findings, the report indicates that mixed-use development is among the most challenging, and private owners are often in a “catch-22” as they seek financing.  Downtown management capacity is critical to the success of mixed-use development, the study found. In addition, the CMSC report explains that even when zoning regulations promote redevelopment, they are often not enough to enable mixed-use growth and a severe lack of financing impedes the growth of much-needed mixed use development.

"CMSC's report provides insights that will guide future housing development on Main Streets across Connecticut. The first year of the Come Home to Downtown program is not only creating opportunities to establish new rental housing in downtown neighborhoods, it's creating a model for other communities to follow,"   said Eric Chatman, President & Executive Director of CHFA, which has contracted with CMSC for a second year of the pilot program, which will focus on finding and creating financing.

The report's seven key findings are:

1. There is a huge amount of potential for accommodating mixed-use development - which both saves and generates monies - in Connecticut's downtowns. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the infrastructure costs to service compact, dense development like that found Downtown reportin mixed-use neighborhoods are one-third to one-half lower than in suburban areas. It has been estimated that every downtown in Connecticut has at least one building that is under-utilized, containing a store or restaurant on the first floor, but with upper floors that are vacant or used for storage that could instead generate income if converted to apartment homes.

2. Mixed-use development is one of the hardest types to accomplish. There are several reasons why this is the case: these buildings are usually older and in need of greater rehabilitation; they are in need of complex financing from multiple sources; combine several uses in one building (such as housing and retail space); and are often owned by people with little to no redevelopment experience.

3. A severe lack of financing impedes the growth of mixed-use development. Because these deals are so intricate and multi-faceted, financing for the total development costs rarely exists from traditional sources.

4. Education and outreach to owners of possible mixed-use property is needed. Property owners are often unprepared for the complex process of redeveloping their building and unaware of the potential benefit in doing so. Very often, they also need assistance learning how to become landlords and attract good tenants.

5. Private-owners are in a catch-22 when it comes to obtaining financing. With regard to apartment homes located in mixed-use buildings, private owners can either apply for subsidies if they place income/affordability restrictions on the apartments, or the units are not restricted, but there is no subsidy for apartments at the same rental rate.

6. Even when zoning regulations promote redevelopmmiddletownent, they are often not enough to enable mixed-use growth. Favorable zoning regulations are important, but they cannot create mixed-use development by themselves. Each of the pilot communities had zoning policies that allowed for buildings with a mix of uses - a practice which should be commended and encouraged - but there were still significant impediments to promoting this type of growth. In addition, lessening current on-site parking requirements as a whole will also help promote housing in our downtowns.

7. Downtown management capacity is critical to the success of mixed-use development. Any community interested in promoting revitalization of its downtown should consider enhancing its management function by becoming a resource center for mixed-use development, including convening key stakeholders, collecting data, offering education and information and coordinating development incentives.

"There is now a better understanding of what the next steps need to be, and a greater appreciation of the importance of the public-private partnership that is necessary to overcome the challenges and achieve reuse of these properties," Rose Ponte, Torrington's former Director of Economic Development, said about the new report.

 Engaging an expert team of consultants, CMSC worked with municipal officials and the building owners to develop viable redevelopment options including: determining what financing would likely be needed for redevelopment; performing an assessment of zoning and regulatory requirements; reviewing the downtown management function; and measuring the downtown's walkability. Specific recommendations for improving the buildings, including a recommended floor plan designed to attract new residents and bring market rate housing downtown, was also provided to each property owner.

Once rehabilitated, these buildings will create 60 new units of rental housing in downtown Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury, as well as make approximately 25,000 square feet of commercial and retail space available. The total development cost to renovate all three buildings is estimated to be $11.4 million.

"You see it on an almost daily basis - news articles and reports showing the demand, especially among Millennials and Baby Boomers who want to live in walkable, interesting places. It doesn't seem to matter if the downtown is large or small, as long as they can live there and get around without a car to go to the movies, grocery store or coffee shop, that's where people want to be these days," said John Simone, CMSC President & CEO.

In the pilot program’s second year, CMSC will choose two new communities while continuing to work with the property owners and municipal officials in Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury.

Stamford is #1 in USA in Workers with College Degree; Geography Key to Job Prospects

Stamford ranks first in the nation in the percentage of workers with a college degree, according to a  book that features an analysis of  the influences of geography on jobs, highlighting tremendous disparities that exist in cities across the country and citing innovation as a key jobs driver.

 “The sheer size of the differences between American communities is staggering," the book stated. " Stamford, Connecticut, the city with the largest percentage of college-educated workers in the United States, has five times the number of college graduates per capita as the city at the bottom, Merced, California.”

The New Geography of Jobs, written by Enrico Moretti, a professor of Economics and the University of California, ranked 306 of the nation’s metropolitan areas.  In the ranking, Waterbury was among the metropolitan areas with the smallest share of workers with a college degree, at 15 percent.

Stamford, with 56 percent, led the list, topping Washington, DC (49%), Boston (47%), Madison (47%) and San Jose (47%), which rounded out the top five metropolitan areas in the country.  Completing the top 10 metropolitan areas with the largest share of workers with a college degree is Ann Arbor (46%), Raleigh-Durham(44%), San Geograpgy-Jacket-ImageFrancisco-Oakland (44%), Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado (44%), and Seattle-Everett, Washington (42%).  Yuma, AZ and Merced, CA, both at 11 percent, ranked last.

Moretti’s research and analysis reveals that the “new geography of jobs is benefitting centers of innovation,” and “among the beneficiaries are the workers who support the idea creators.”  He indicates that “for every new innovation job in a city, five additional non-innovation jobs are created, and those workers earn higher salaries than their counterparts in other urban areas.”

According to the book, the average salary of college graduates in Stamford is $133,479 and the average salary of high school graduates is $107,301.  Moretti points out that “the more college graduates there are (in a metropolitan area) the higher the salaries for high school graduates are.”  Overall, “the earnings of a worker with a high school City of Stamfordeducation rise by about 7 percent as the share of college graduates in his city increases by 10 percent,” a statistical analysis indicates.

Morelli also notes that the education level of the workforce not only impact salaries, but also the level of charitable contributions.  “Among large U.S. metropolitan areas, charities in five brain hubs – Stamford, Boston, Raleigh-Durham, Washington, D.C., and New York – receive the highest contributions relative to their population.”

The book also ranks Stamford as the metropolitan area with the second highest cost of living in the nation, behind only San Jose, CA, and just ahead of San Francisco-Oakland-Vallejo, California.  Also in the top 20 cities with the heist cost of living is Bridgeport, at number 17.

The New Geography of Jobs was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2012. Moretti is Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley where he holds the Michael Peevey and Donald Vial Career Development Chair in Labor Economics. He is the Director of the Infrastructure and Urbanization Program at the International Growth Centre (London School of Economics and Oxford University).

New Haven Foundation Issues 36-hour local 'giving challenge,' Waterbury Up Next

To celebrate its 90th anniversary, the Connecticut Community Foundation is coordinating Give Local Greater Waterbury & Litchfield Hills, a "challenge" to area residents to give generously online to the region's nonprofits over a 36-hour period from 7 AM on November 12 to 7 PM on November 13.

"Give Local" is based on the successful three-year effort by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, which now underway with its annual 36-hour effort, running on October 2nd and 3rd - under the name "The Great Give 2013."  The effort concludes at 8 PM on October 3. [As of midnight on Oct. 2, 4,000 individual gifts had been received totaling nearly $400,000 for local nonprofits.]

CFGNH reports more than $1.3 great givemillion has been distributed in new and matching funds through its three previous giving campaigns.  All donations made during the 36-hour period of The Great Give® 2013 to qualified nonprofits on® will receive a pro- rated portion of the match pool.

In addition, there will be competitive grant prizes, including $1,000 to the first three charities to accumulate 100 individual donors and grand prizes of $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 for charities with the greatest number of new donors. A series of “Golden Ticket” awards wil also provide funds, recognizing gifts such as those given between 2 and 4 a.m. or those given closest to midnight. In the current campaign, a total of $70,000 will be awarded in match incentive grants.

The Valley Community Foundation has set aside a matching pool of $20,000 for the Great Give. All donations made between $25 – $125 by Valley donors (residing or working in Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour or Shelton) or Valley Community Foundation fund holders during the 36-hour period of The Great Give® 2013 will be matched until the pool is exhausted.

In Waterbury, the effort is underwritten by Naugatuck Savings Bank Foundation and Crystal Rock. The Connecticut Community Foundation hosted five workshops between September 10-16 for nonprofits in its 21 towns to explain the initiative.

For more information: contact (Waterbury)Edwin Rodriguez, (203) 753-1315 x102,; and (New Haven) Tricia Caldwell, (203) 777-7090,

Thriving Initiatives on State Main Streets Gain Recognition

Communities and organizations actively championing the revitalization and economic development of downtowns across Connecticut - through initiatives ranging from rebuilding and redesigning downtown spaces to working with local partners to provide fresh food for downtown residents- are gaining recognition for their efforts.

Initiatives and organizations from Hartford, Waterbury, Willimantic and Storrs Center and among those selected for 2013 Awards of Excellence, to be presented by the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) at their annual awards gala, being held in Hartford for the first time on June 10.  The projects and programs range from Fireball Run and iQuilt to vibrant partnerships bringing business, education, municipal and community organizations together to advance new initiatives.  The recipients are:

  • Main Street Partnership (sponsored by Webster Bank) - "Brass City Market on Field" Indoor Farm Market, to Brass City Harvest, Main Street Waterbury, Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury Development Corporation and the City of Waterbury.
  •  Economic and Business Development - "Make New Friends, but Keep the Old": Retention and Relocation of Existing Businesses during Development of Storrs Center, to Mansfield Downtown Partnership, UConn, Town of Mansfield, LeylandAlliance, Milone & McBroom, Cipparone & Zaccaro, and the Business Owners of Mansfield & Storrs Center.
  •  Public Space Master Plan - The iQuilt Plan (Downtown Hartford), to iQuilt Partnership, City of Hartford, and Suisman Urban Design.
  • Historic Preservation - End of an Era": Past Identity/Future Vision and the Portrait Project (Downtown Willimantic), to Harrison Judd, Thread City Development, Inc., Eastern CT State University, Windham Textile & History Museum, Town of Windham, TBS Properties, Windham Region Chamber of Commerce, ArtSpace Windham Gallery.
  •  Downtown EventFireball Run 2012 (Downtown Waterbury), to Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce, City of Waterbury, and Main Street Waterbury.
  • Business Owner of the Year (sponsored by Webster Bank) - Dr. Richard A. Fichman, Fichman Eye Center, in the Upper Albany Main Street District, Hartfordone-dog-lane

In addition, the 2013 Nationally Accredited Main Street Programs - Simsbury Main Street Partnership, Upper Albany Main Street (Hartford), and Main Street Waterbury will be recognized, and The Connecticut Light and Power Company Award for Outstanding Contributions to Main Street Revitalization will be presented to longtime activitst Toni A. Gold of Hartford.

"Connecticut's city centers are critical drivers of commerce and competitiveness," said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. "I applaud the 2013 award winners for their efforts to make Connecticut's downtowns thrive. The collaboration to create more livable communities is to the benefit of all Connecticut's residents."

Connecticut Main Street Center is a statewide nonprofit that inspires great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street. Its mission is to be the champion and leading resource for vibrant and sustainable Main Streets as foundations for healthy communities.

The Connecticut Main Street Awards of Excellence, established a decade ago, recognize outstanding projects, individuals and partnerships in community efforts to bring traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts back to life, socially and economically. Submissions were judged on criteria which included innovation, replication, representation, partnerships utilized, and outcomes.

Awards will be presented at the 2013 Connecticut Main Street Awards Gala on June 10th at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Downtown Hartford. Major Sponsors include Fuss & O'Neill, Webster Bank, Baywater Properties, Travelers, and Renaissance Downtowns.


Waterbury, Hartford, Simsbury Achieve National “Main Street” Recognition

Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) has announced that three Connecticut Main Street designated organizations have been accredited as 2013 National Main Street Programs for meeting organizational performance standards set by the National Trust Main Street Center.  Simsbury Main Street Partnership, Upper Albany Main Street (Hartford) and Main Street Waterbury have been recognized for outstanding accomplishments toward the goal of revitalizing their historic main street districts following the Main Street methodology.  The announcement was made during the 2013 National Main Streets Conference in New Orleans.

"We congratulate this year's accredited National Main Street Programs for meeting our established performance standards," said Valecia Crisafulli, Acting Director of the National Trust Main Street Center. "Rebuilding a district's economic health and maintaining that success requires broad-based community involvement and support, in addition to establishing a solid organization with sound management that is committed to long-term success."2013MSC_WebBanner_619px_2

National Main Street Program Accreditation is a partnership between Connecticut Main Street Center and the National Trust Main Street Center to establish standards of performance for local Main Street programs. These standards set the benchmarks for measuring an individual Main Street program's application of the Main Street Four-Point Approach to commercial district revitalization, which includes Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Restructuring.

Evaluation criteria determine the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as development and commitment to mission, fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing a stable operating budget, tracking economic progress, and preserving and bringing back to life historic buildings. These standards provide benchmarks and guidelines on how Main Street organizations should be functioning and serve as incentives for improvement.

Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) is a statewide nonprofit that inspires great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street. Its mission is to be the champion and leading resource for vibrant and sustainable Main Streets as foundations for healthy communities.   Since the Connecticut Main Street program began in 1995, designated Main Street programs have generated waterburyover $1 billion in public and private reinvestment in their downtowns. Over the same time, 425 net new businesses have opened and 2,538 net new jobs have been created.

Connecticut's 2013 National Main Street Programs

Simsbury Main Street Partnership, designated in 1995, describes its focus as "forward-thinking economic development within the context of historic preservation, so that Simsbury's assets and legacy can be passed on to future generations." Designated a Preserve America Community by the White House in 2006, the Partnership works to integrate Simsbury Center's shopping, civic and entertainment activities into community heritage tourism opportunities. Through its partnership with the Town and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Simsbury Main Street Partnership has linked downtown restaurants and merchants to visitors to the Talcott Mountain Music Festival by establishing an outdoor vendor program where concert-goers can purchase food and drink and retail items. Simsbury was named by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of the 2010 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. More about Simsbury Main Street Partnership can be found at

Upper Albany Main Street is "an economic development engine in Hartford working to improve the environment for small businesses, promote entrepreneurship, and establish Albany Avenue as a vibrant Afro-Caribbean neighborhood destination of choice." Designated by Connecticut Main Street Center in 2001, Upper Albany Main Street continues to position the organization to meet the socio-economic challenges of the neighborhood by addressing leadership development, and engaging residents in the entrepreneurial initiatives on the Avenue. Through its partnerships with the University of Hartford, the City of Hartford and the Metro Hartford Alliance, the Main Street program has developed the award-winning Micro-Business Incubator program, and a Public Safety initiative which has resulted in the Avenue being named a Weed & Seed Community by the U.S. Department of Justice. More about Upper Albany Main Street can be found at

Main Street Waterbury, designated a Connecticut Main Street Community in 2003, has been guided by a commitment to building community consensus around the need to bring downtown back to life through a culture of collaboration. Forming a unique partnership with the City, the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Waterbury Development Corporation, Main Street Waterbury has been successful in bringing people back to downtown through its special events, community forums, and by focusing on a strategy of "Waterbury at Night"; recruiting restaurants and creating a downtown environment which encourages and complements activity around the existing entertainment destinations in downtown. Downtown Waterbury has seen the rehabilitation of a number of downtown's historic vacant and under-utilized mixed-use buildings, providing market-rate residential development on upper floors. More information about Main Street Waterbury can be found at

CMSC is supported by Founding Sponsors, the Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and The Connecticut Light and Power Company, and by Growth Sponsors, The United Illuminating Company and the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office. For more information, visit


Danbury Is Safest CT City; Stamford, Waterbury Next

Danbury has been ranked as the safest city in Connecticut according to the annual publication, City Crime Rankings 2012-2013: Crime in Metropolitan America, released by CQ Press.  The city narrowly missed the top 100 safest cities in the U.S, ranking at #106 nationally, sandwiched between Aurora, IL and Peoria, AZ. The other ranked Connecticut cities were Stamford at #152 (just ahead of Santa Rosa, CA) and Waterbury at #218 (just ahead of Raleigh, NC), followed lower down the list by a close grouping of Bridgeport at #404 (just ahead of Buffalo, NY), Hartford at #411 (just ahead of Dayton, OH) and New Haven at #418 (just ahead of Little Rock, AK).

“Our city employs some of the finest Police Officers in our region.  The deep dedication that our Officers have for our community’s well-being is evident by this ranking,” said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  We are proud of their work and we will continue focusing our efforts on maintaining exceptional public safety.”

The rankings of the safest and most dangerous cities and metropolitan areas are calculated using six basic cricrimeme categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.  These categories have been used for determining city ratings since 1999.  The rankings include all cities of at least 75,000 residents that reported crime data to the FBI in the categories noted.

Among cities with 500,000 residents or more, the lowest crime rate rankings were in El Paso, TX;  San Diego, CA and New York City.  Cities with between 100,000 and 499,000 population were led by Naperville, IL; Amherst, NY and Irvine, CA.  Among cities with between 75,000 and 100,000 population, the lowest crime rates were in Fishers, IN; Johns Creek, GA and O'Fallon, MO (Newton, MA was fifth).

The nation's highest crime rates, according to the rankings, were in Detroit and Flint, MI and Camden, NJ.

The purpose of City Crime Rankings, according to the publisher, is to serve as a resource for researchers, city and law enforcement officials, and the community.

Three Cities Selected for Program to Bring Housing Downtown

Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) has selected Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury for its new pilot program, Come Home to Downtown. CMSC developed the mixed-use real estate planning pilot program to provide selected communities with new tools to strengthen economic health and restore vitality to their downtowns, facilitating the development of viable, interesting housing opportunities while improving downtown neighborhoods. The goal of the Come Home to Downtown program is to set the stage to attract developers and “mom and pop” building owners to redevelop vacant or underutilized buildings with a mix of uses and housing choices. CMSC will also provide local public and private champions and partners with strategic tools to aldowntownlow them to create or enhance a strong downtown management program.  The Come Home to Downtown pilot was created in partnership with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA), through a $250,000 investment using Community Investment Act (CIA) Program funding.

“Our Come Home to Downtown pilot communities were selected based on criteria we feel is vital for success, including local public and private sector leadership, a strong record of community engagement, success of previous downtown revitalization initiatives and multi-story buildings and property owners who are motivated to redevelop them,” said CMSC’s John Simone.

CMSC will work in concert with Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury, beginning with the collection of data, building analysis and the coordination of community engagement activities, exploring their downtown redevelopment issues in-depth and creating new strategies that respond to changing demographics and market dynamics.  Work will continue throughout the summer on consensus buiphoto_center_01lding, a downtown development audit for each of the towns, model building analysis, assistance to small-property owners who demonstrate a desire to redevelop their properties to include housing, and downtown management organizational development.

Connecticut Main Street Center is a statewide nonprofit that inspires great Connecticut downtowns, Main Street by Main Street. Its mission is to be the champion and leading resource for vibrant and sustainable Main Streets as foundations for healthy communities.