NORWALK, Conn. -- As economic development director for the City of Norwalk, Elizabeth Stocker handles a host of responsibilities to help the city’s business community succeed.
Stocker said her role is threefold: to help bring businesses into the community, retain them and help them expand.
Interfacing with area businesses, providing resources for startup companies and working with the Chamber of Commerce are all part of the mix, but so is working with other city departments on her office’s various initiatives.
Stocker, who has been at her post since August 2014, is uniquely suited to handle the multifaceted nature of her job.
Her background has included a decade in the art sector in New Haven, and 30 years of municipal work throughout the area, including stints in Hamden, Newtown and Norwalk.
In addition, Stocker holds a master’s degree in urban planning from New York University, and is also a certified planner.
“My focus in urban planning has always been on economic development,” she said. “My real focus is on the business community in Norwalk.”
Not content to simply hold office hours with area businesses, Stocker said the best part of her job is “being out in the community.”
To that end, Stocker actively goes out and meets many of Norwalk’s entrepreneurs in their places of business in an effort to gauge how their companies really work.
Stocker said the city’s business sector is highly diverse, with a number of industries expanding.
Among those, she said, are several tech-based companies, including Datto and CyrusOne, along with a burgeoning human resources sector and a concentration of financial institutions that includes hedge funds and insurance companies.
While many of the city’s businesses are growing, though, a key loss on the horizon is longtime Connecticut mainstay General Electric, which is in the process of leaving the state.
Stocker, however, expressed optimism that other industries will pick up the mantle. The skills of GE’s former labor force, she said, will help attract other businesses.
One new company poised to have an impact on Norwalk is General Growth Partners, the Chicago-based developer set to build a 1 million square foot retail center with a Bloomingdale’s, a Nordstrom and a boutique hotel.
Stocker said the development, which is expected to be open in 2018, will be an attraction that visitors from across the region will want to come to see.
Ultimately, Stocker said, her goal is to help make the community she serves a better place to live, work and establish businesses.
“There are always challenges on the horizon,” she said. “That’s what keeps my job interesting.”
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