NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk released its new “ Economic Development Action Plan ” on Wednesday, outlining steps and initiatives that the city can take to encourage and grow business in the coming years.
The plan was developed over the last eight months by a group of 40 people, including elected and appointed officials, business owners and leaders, community members and other stakeholders. The plan outlines key goals designed to retain existing businesses and attract new businesses to Norwalk.
Mayor Harry Rilling said that the plan is designed to guide the city through the next three to five years, but that it will be revisited every six months.
“What we want to do is not let this sit on a shelf and gather dust like some plans do,” Rilling said. We want to revisit this and convene a meeting every six months, look at the document and determine where it needs to be tweaked, where we need to add things, measure our progress on some of the key actions, and look at the goals and see if they’re still viable goals.”
The six key goals outlined in the plan call for:
Supporting and encouraging growth of established businesses; attract and welcome new businesses
Creating an environment that encourages innovation among small businesses and entrepreneurs
Leveraging Norwalk’s cultural, recreational, art and historic assets as economic drivers
Maintaining and enhancing the assets of Norwalk’s business areas and neighborhoods
Enhancing the multi-modal transportation infrastructure throughout Norwalk and encourage its use
Encouraging ongoing cooperation between business and the Norwalk school system
Each goal includes key actions needed to accomplish it. Each action lists a timeline, the person or entity responsible, and the progress made.
“We have already moved forward in many of the initiatives that have been mentioned as actions,” said Economic Development Director Elizabeth Stocker. “As a living, breathing document, the word 'action' is important because that’s what it’s all about.
"It’s doing things to help the economy of the community, help the citizens of Norwalk, our business citizens as well as residents, to take advantage of everything we have to offer here.”
Stocker said that there will be work on rebranding the city as a place to do business, as well as an emphasis on digital technology such as a new city website and apps to help residents and businesses.
Rilling said the document will be reviewed by a smaller core group of individuals who will track the progress that the city is making in achieving its goals. He said that the cost of the actions have not been factored into the budget, but that the goals will be used to help guide the creation of the city’s budgets in the future.
“Norwalk wants to be known, and we will be known as a welcoming environment for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and we’ll work to provide the tools necessary for their success,” Rilling said.