Beacon Falls turns to NEDC for economic development

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

BEACON FALLS — Officials have reached an agreement with the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation to provide economic development services to the town through the rest of this fiscal year.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the agreement at its Feb. 8 meeting. The agreement still needs to be approved by the NEDC Board of Directors, which is scheduled to meet Feb. 22.

“I think it’s in our best interest as we don’t have really any economic representation right now and NEDC, from what I can tell, they should be an asset helping the town move forward and bringing further economic development to the town,” First Selectman Gerard Smith said during the meeting.

Selectman Christopher Bielik said he has no reservations about testing the waters with the NEDC for next few months. He added he expects good things.

“I’m hoping to bring more business to town,” Smith said.

The NEDC is a quasi-public agency that oversees economic development for Naugatuck and receives some funding from the borough.

The agreement runs from March 1 through June 30. Under the agreement, Beacon Falls will pay the NEDC $11,666 for economic development services. The services include being a point of contact for businesses and commercial property owners, identifying land in town for development, working to retain businesses and help them expand, and attracting new businesses to town.

Beacon Falls or the NEDC could terminate the agreement with 30 days written notice. The agreement could also be extended beyond June 30.

Smith said the money will come from funds in the Economic Development Commission’s budget designated for marketing and economic development.

The town previously hired Connecticut Economic Resource Center, a nonprofit corporation and public-private partnership, for economic development services.

Economic Development Commission Chairman John W. “Jack” Betkoski III said CERC decided to focus more on state-level work. He said the town hasn’t had professional economic development representation in almost a year and the commission has been leading the town’s effort with Smith.

The commission had talks with NEDC President Ronald Pugliese for months leading up to the agreement.

NEDC Chairman Rebecca Zandvliet said the agreement was originally going to be for a year. The three-month timeline will give officials a chance to look at the results before a possible renewal, she added.

“I think it could work very well for Naugatuck and Beacon Falls,” Zandvliet said.

Betkoski said the NEDC will bring the expertise and experience needed to develop the town’s economic development plan. He added it’s a “perfect fit.”

“It’s going to bring the necessary resources to promote and maintain economic development in the town of Beacon Falls,” Betkoski said.

Officials expressed no reservations about whether the NEDC could effectively serve the economic development needs of two municipalities.

Pugliese said Beacon Falls and Naugatuck have good synergy.

“Whenever there’s businesses that I cannot put here in Naugatuck, I would certainly push them over to Beacon Falls,” Pugliese said. “It helps both towns. … They are two really good towns, work together a lot.”

Betkoski said he has no concerns about working with the NEDC and regionalizing efforts.

Zandvliet believes it will be a very positive relationship between the two municipalities.

“We’re encouraged that this will be a positive venture with the town of Beacon Falls,” she said.

Pugliese said officials have been discussing the agreement for months.

“It’s not something that we’re going to do without giving it a lot of thought,” Pugliese said. “We’ve worked on it.”