Guilford Economic Development Emerges from the Pandemic
Palumbo Automotive on Boston Post Road was recognized for 35 years of service to the shoreline community. The Shoreline Chamber of Commerce, along with State Senator Christine Cohen (D-12), State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-86), and State Representative Sean Scanlon (D-98) joined the celebration. (Photo courtesy of the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce)
There has certainly been a lot of news concerning business in Guilford the last few weeks, but despite the loss of Walmart, there are a number of success stories and a multitude of new businesses opening around town, along with a number of thriving long-time businesses. Sheri Cote, the economic development director for both Madison and Guilford, said there is a lot to be hopeful about when it comes to the economic climate in town.
Cote said the signage project, that installed custom-made information signs on all of Guilford’s exit ramps, will be enhanced by an additional feature of the project.
“We are now working on an internal way-finding signage plan,” said Cote. “That will replace some of the older information signs that are in definite need of replacement. The program is continuing to move forward, so these signs will allow folks to find their way internally around town. Also, one aspect of the bigger sign project is that in addition to the six exit signs, we will be installing another ‘Welcome’ sign at the round-about where Branford, North Branford, and Guilford all connect on Route One.”
Cote also said the town’s property enhancement grant program, which provides up to $1,000 for any business to make frontage or signage improvements, has been very successful.
“To date we have actually approved 11 grant applications, and that is kind of exciting, because the town will contribute just over $10,000,” said Cote. “Every applicant was eligible to receive up to $1,000 of reimbursement expenses, and several were below the $1,000 threshold, so I like this because of the return on investment. The businesses are investing in their property, which is great for the town overall.”
According to Cote, a majority of applicants are requesting funding to replace or repair signage, but there are several that are using it for parking lot and ADA access ramps as well.
“With folks using these funds to repair and paint facades and signs so that is always a positive factor in business development,” Cote said.
Cote said there is more than $15,000 in funds still available and encouraged businesses to apply for a grant. The opportunity is beneficial for both new and established businesses, according to Cote.
“We still have money left and we encourage everyone who wants to, to apply for a grant. They can find everything they need at the Economic Development section of the town website [www.ci.guilford.ct.us], or just call me directly at my office” at 203-453-8071, Cote added. “When we originally launched this program, we had no idea what would happen, whether businesses would participate at all…so the way it is evolving is very encouraging for the town. We hope that it continues.”
Cote said that Guilford has also just recently been certified as a Silver Level-Best Practices town by the Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS), which evaluates towns on a number of criteria centering on their commitment to economic development and ease of business opportunities. The recognition is important to the town, according to Cote, because the program facilitates economic connections between towns, standardizes practices, and encourages a more transparent, efficient, and community-engaged form of economic development.
Cote said despite the news that Walmart will be closing, a number of Guilford businesses have just opened or are celebrating long-delayed ribbon cuttings and openings that were COVID delayed.
“We celebrated a ribbon cutting for MHK located on Goose Lane [and] we did Deke’s Bagels on Boston Post Road. Last week, we held a ribbon cutting for An Artistic Touch on Boston Post Road. we also held another ceremony for the New Haven-Middlesex Association of Realtors, which had delayed their ceremony for several years. Palumbo’s Automotive is celebrating 35 years in business, so they had a little ceremony with a number of town and State officials for them. We did an opening for a new business, Omni Salon and Spa, which is located in the Jerry’s Transmissions building. There was also a grand opening for a new business Amanda’s Healthy Cooking, run by Amanda Cesare, which is taking over the spot vacated by the loss of the Vietnom’s Café,” said Cote. “It has been very active in town, and hopefully we are getting past COVID. It is really great news to have all this activity.”
Cote said she and her department are diligently striving to find another retailer for the soon to be vacated Walmart outlet. No new tenant has been found yet, but according to Cote, the town and the management company for the property are confident that a viable replacement can be found.
“We are all sad that Walmart is leaving us and there is definitely a need for a retailer like that,” said Cote. “We are working together with the property manager to try and find the right business for that space. We have also gotten a lot of feedback from residents as to what they would like to see in that space, and we are working very hard to find the right business to go in their.”