Town, state reach out to local businesses
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Oct. 14, 2011
“Vernon is open for business,” said Mayor Jason McCoy, as he addressed the roomful of town officials, business owners and developers at the Economic Development Department's breakfast on Oct. 12. The meeting's aim was to attract businesses to the town, and to make people aware of what the town can do to assist local businesses.
The Town Council chambers at Town Hall were lined with maps of parcels that are available for commercial development.
“We have many more out there,” said Vernon's economic development coordinator, Shaun Gately. “We have many more leases available. This is just a small example of what Vernon has to offer for space that can be developed.”
Gately said an overlying issue is how to move forward in a tough global economy, with a tough local one.
“The answer is not easy,” he said. “This is the beginning. The beginning is getting everyone together, communicating [about] what we are doing and what we can do, and how we can help each other. The town is here to help you move your efforts forward.”
Gately said one innovation with the town is online permitting, which will begin soon. Building, zoning and planning permits will be available to developers through the town's website.
The town offices are also being consolidated, which will bring some of the offices together. “Hopefully, you can stop in and talk to all of us, instead of having to jump from building to building,” said Gately.
Many incentives are also offered to new or growing businesses, Gately said - some of which may not be known to those who are eligible, including tax abatements for the use of vacant/blighted buildings, and other incentives which are tailored to individual projects.
Dave Raccio, from the State of Connecticut's Department of Economic Development, said his department has incentives, tax credits and programs for business expansion and retention in industries including aerospace, insurance and financial services, manufacturing, bio-science, film and digital media, and others.
“Feel free to call and see what's out there,” Raccio said, adding that the DECD also partners with other agencies that can help with things like financing issues, credits for new construction, venture capitalism and housing projects.
“We also work with regional planning agencies and chambers of commerce,” he said.
Raccio said the Job Creation Tax Credit, which started in 2010, is something else the DECD can assist with. “Bottom line is, if you hire anybody new, you get $200 off your tax credit,” he said. “That's $200 per month, per each new employee. It's been a pretty successful program.”
Some established local companies said the information was helpful to them and their future plans. Meghan Scranton, of Scranton Motors, said her company is looking to expand and renovate its operations, including energy upgrades, and is dealing with issues including the installation of a traffic signal. She said that it can be difficult to find a person within the DOT with whom to maintain a working relationship, but the meeting showed her some avenues to pursue for assistance with such concerns.
“As much as you hear about how the government is helping businesses out,” she said, “[it's nice] to learn more about an actual development center that I can call. It's a government agency we can go to. We pay for it, so to find somebody that's helpful and useful [made] this morning absolutely worth it to be here. The town wants to work with us, the state wants to work with us – it's encouraging.”
“It was an excellent gathering and if facilitated networking,” said Ernie Parent, of Parent Structures, LLC. “There are a lot of people you know and recognize here, and I think everybody can help everyone else.”
Parent said that the information presented would be helpful for potential expansion or relocation of local businesses, which is something that many business owners don't think about as much as they could, because they are so busy running their companies in the status quo. “It gets you to rethink, because you get wrapped up in your day-to-day activities,” he said, “you really can't focus on expanding or moving, which can be key.”
Parent said there was something to gain from the fact that the DECD was represented. “Just knowing that they're out there to help you, it's an eye-opener,” he said. “Everybody's got similar problems and interests, so the meeting was well worthwhile.”