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Economic Forum Seeks to Connect Westbrook Businesses with Resources, Services

Published Sep. 03, 2019

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The town of Westbrook is inviting local business owners to a forum on Thursday, Sept. 19 to address concerns, opportunities, and resources and services available at no charge to businesses locally and from the state.

“We’ve reached out to every single [Westbrook] business with the help of CERC [the Connecticut Economic Resource Center],” said First Selectman Noel Bishop, noting that there are nearly 500 local businesses.

Bishop will moderate a panel discussion consisting of business leaders and representatives from local, state, and federal entities. Elizabeth Wallace, director of business services for CERC, which is a nonprofit organization, is one of the confirmed panel members.

“CERC provides information on how to access programs and resources to start, expand, or relocate your business, as well as guidance through the regulatory requirements to do business in Connecticut,” Wallace said. “The forum [will be] a great opportunity for Westbrook businesses to connect firsthand and in-person with subject matter experts across these various resources.”

“The whole idea is to generate...specifically what can we do to make sure that your business stays in this town,” Bishop said. The discussion will address the resources the town can provide, available funding from various organization, and “how we can continue to promote their businesses,” he said.

Parking and the lack of sewers are impediments to establishing businesses in the town center, Bishop acknowledged.

“I want that all on the table,” he said. “What is it that’s not happening? What are the obstacles? What specifically are we going to do and who’s going to do it? It’s an action plan.

“Every five years we bring the municipal leadership and business leaders together and we’ve always found that to be very, very helpful,” Bishop continued.

This forum will be something different, however, and will provide business owners with outside resources and expertise with an opportunity to ask questions and network.

According to an email from the Westbrook First Selectman’s office, the forum’s three objectives are to “emphasize [the town’s] commitment...to every business owner and find ways to further enhance their success,” “to identify financial resources at the state and national level that may be available to ensure their continued growth,” and “to reinforce the importance of Westbrook businesses and their services to our community, since future business growth is one of [the town’s] highest priorities.”

Bishop hopes the program will help the town to develop a “specific business/economic plan for the immediate near future,” according to the email.

At press time, the following panelists had confirmed their attendance at the forum:

• Joe Ercolano, Connecticut Small Business Development Center

• Jessica Rivera, Small Business Association

• Jim Crawford, Westbrook Economic Development Commission

• Jeff Pugliese, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce

• Ron Lyman, Lyman Real Estate

• Wanda Lary, Workforce Alliance

• Elizabeth Wallace, CERC

The Westbrook Business Resource Forum will take place on Thursday, Sept. 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Westbrook Town Hall. Business owners who plan to attend the forum are asked to RSVP by Thursday, Sept. 12 by contacting Suzanne Helchowski at 860-399-3040 ext. 1110 or shelchowski@westbrookct.us.

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