NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling announced Wednesday that he has formed a Business Advisory Council to help guide his economic policies in his first term.
The 11-member council includes local small business owners, representatives from national corporations with offices in Norwalk and local politicians.
“We need people from different walks of life, different visions, to bring their ideas and thoughts to the table in order to really make Norwalk the best city it can possibly be,” Rilling said.
The council members are Harry Carey from AT&T; Mike Sutton from Benefits Planning Services; Mike DiScala from M.F. DiScala & Company; Tony Aitoro from Aitoro Appliance & Electronics; LaTanya Langley from Diageo North America; Yvonne Hickey from Xerox; Stacey Lopez-Hascoe from SoNo Corporate Suites; Patricia Toni from Norwalk Hospital; Irene Dixon from Hilton Garden Inn of Norwalk; recent Common Council candidate Olivia Dardy; and State Sen. Bob Duff.
“We have a great community of businesses in Norwalk. We have many Fortune 500 companies, many small businesses and many medium-sized businesses as well,” Duff said. “I think this group here that has been assembled and approved by the mayor really reflects that we have a diversity of businesses.”
The Business Advisory Council’s first task will be to find an economic development director to replace Tad Diesel, who retired recently. The new director will work with the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency and the Mayor’s Office to encourage business development in the city and “aggressively market” Norwalk to companies looking to expand.
More information and a formal job posting seeking candidates will be published later this week, Rilling said. He hopes the council can find someone with “a proven history” to fill the position, he added.
Rilling has also asked the council for ideas on making it easier to start a business in Norwalk, including “streamlining” the permit application process and make it more “user-friendly.”
The group has no formal charge or meeting schedule yet. But Rilling said Wednesday he expects the council to be a standing committee that will advise him throughout his tenure as mayor.
“We have to whet people’s appetite not only to move here but to invest here, to work here, to send their children to our schools,” Rilling said. “Those are the things we’ll be looking at: How do we make Norwalk desirable to people and businesses?”