Beacon Falls talks economic development

Liz Falzone, left, and Rick Cherhoniak, members of Citizen’s for Tomorrow’s Downtown, address the audience during the Beacon Falls Business and Economic Development Forum ‘State of the Town’ at Kolga LLC in the Pinesbridge Commerce Park Tuesday morning. –LUKE MARSHALL

Liz Falzone, left, and Rick Cherhoniak, members of Citizen’s for Tomorrow’s Downtown, address the audience during the Beacon Falls Business and Economic Development Forum ‘State of the Town’ at Kolga LLC in the Pinesbridge Commerce Park Tuesday morning. –LUKE MARSHALL


BEACON FALLS — The public and private sector gathered to discuss Beacon Falls and its approach to doing business Tuesday morning over breakfast.

The Board of Selectmen, Economic Development Commission and the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce came together to host the Beacon Falls Business and Economic Development Forum “State of the Town” at Kolga LLC in the Pinesbridge Commerce Park.

The discussion centered how the town is trying to attract businesses and allow business owners an opportunity to talk about their experiences in Beacon Falls.

First Selectman Gerard Smith said the town has seen more interest from businesses lately.

“Things are definitely starting to turn in Beacon Falls’ favor. There’s been an uptick in activity,” Smith said.

Smith told business owners his policy is that they are all the customers and that the town is there to help them. He introduced town officials business owners would have to deal with, such as the building inspector and the town clerk.

Smith said the town has been trying very hard to attract new businesses.

“We’ve been trying all the avenues to broaden the base and make people aware that Beacon Falls is here,” Smith said.

He said the town is exploring the option of bringing natural gas availability into town. He added the town’s Streetscape Enhancement Project, which extended a walkway from the Depot Street Bridge south to Route 42, has gained national attention.

The Citizens for Tomorrow’s Downtown is working with the town to install benches and trash receptacles along the walkway, and firefighters from Beacon Hose Company No. 1 have cleared out brush halfway along the route on the river and they’ll tackle the rest this spring, he said.

Jeremy Rodorigo, chairman of the Economic Development Commission, said the town will do anything within its power to get businesses to come in and set up shop.

Rodorigo said the commission is tasked with helping the business community thrive in Beacon Falls.

“The position of the Beacon Falls EDC is that we want your businesses to do well,” Rodorigo said.

Rodorigo said the commission has a couple disadvantages that it works hard to overcome.

“We don’t have a full-time coordinator. We don’t even have a part-time economic development coordinator. It’s all done by volunteers and people in the community that want to help,” Rodorigo said. “Although that puts us at a little bit of a strategic disadvantage from some of our neighboring communities what we have overcomes that. We have the enthusiasm to bring businesses in. We have the desire to bring businesses in and help them thrive.”

Kolga’s owner Lee Nemeth said he’s seen the town’s commitment to keeping business in town first hand.

As his business grew, Nemeth said he was looking to move the business from the Beacon Falls Business Park on South Main Street
When Smith and Rodorigo heard he was planning on moving, they showed up to see if they could keep his business in town, Nemeth said.

“They offered any help they could possibly give to make sure Kolga would stay in town,” Nemeth said.

Nemeth ended up moving to his current location at 65 Lancaster Drive.

While the town is willing to help the businesses however it can, Rodorigo asked the businesses to help the town as well.

“What I want you to do, in addition to doing a lot of business in Beacon Falls, is to tell all your friends about Beacon Falls and how wonderful we are,” Rodorigo said.