Mayor seeks to kick-start business group



PROSPECT — Six years have past since Prospect had its own business organization. Mayor Robert Chatfield is hoping to change that.

The town plans to host a meeting of Prospect business owners in hopes of kick-starting a new organization for businesses to network. Chatfield will host the meeting at Town Hall, 36 Center St., at 10 a.m. Feb. 28.

Although he is organizing the meeting, Chatfield will not take part in it.

“Whoever shows up, I will welcome them, ask them to select a chairman and secretary, and then I’m going to leave the room,” Chatfield said.

Chatfield wants the group to be run by businesses and for businesses in town. While he is not going to take part in the group, he has offered to help where he can to get the group off the ground.

“I will offer them a place in town and install a phone. I will make a mail slot for them up here [at the Town Hall] if they want to use our address,” Chatfield said. “Those are things I will offer them while they are starting out their organization.”

This is not the first time the town would have an organization that caters to businesses.

The Prospect Chamber of Commerce served the business community for 50 years from 1958 to 2008. The chamber, which had 130 members at the time, was disbanded in the fall of 2008.

 “We had it for all these years. Then we didn’t have it,” Chatfield said.

According to Republican American archives, two years before disbanding the chamber parted ways with its executive director as a cost-saving measure. The chamber tried to get by with its board members running operations but it became too much too handle.

The Prospect Chamber and the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce had discussed a merger. But the Prospect Chamber declined a formal invitation to merge about two years before dissolving due to the Waterbury chamber’s higher dues structure, according to the archives.

Chatfield is now trying to fill the void left when the town’s chamber ceased its operations. He plans to send letters to all the businesses in town inviting them to the meeting.

Chatfield said a new business group would help businesses in many different ways. It would help them become an organized unit, he said. If anyone has a question or complaint about a business in town, they can be referred to this group rather than the state, he added.

Chatfield also hopes that bringing businesses together will provide an organization for business owners in town to get advice and discover new ideas. Ultimately, he said, the group would strengthen the business base in the town.

“By talking amongst themselves they can work together, maybe manufacture equipment for each other. The can work out new partnerships and new business ventures within the town,” Chatfield said.