Local business owners and community members learned about the State's economy and the latest projects in Norwalk during an economic forum Thursday afternoon.
Peter Gioia, Vice President & Economist of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association said, "The economy is growing. It's still growing slowly; it will be improving this year. A lot of that improvement will be due to the fact that the US as a whole is in a sustainable economic recovery."
Gioia went on to say there are several long term issues that will benefit Connecticut & Fairfield County.
"I believe that ultimately Congress will pass an immigration bill. What happens is a lot of people think immigrants take Americans jobs. That's not the way it works. Immigrants tend to start businesses more than people who are born here and they tend to employ more Americans. I think that will happen and that will actually have more sizable benefit to Fairfield County than other parts of the State of Connecticut simply because of location."
The Norwalk Redevelopment Agency is currently working on several projects that will effect both business owners & the community.
"One being the I-95/7 project and the other one is POKO, which is the Wall Street area project, " said Chairman of the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency Commission Felix Serrano.
Waypointe in another project being worked on by the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency.
Tim Sheehan, Executive Director of the Norwalk Redvelopment Agency said, "Waypointe is a 545 unit multi-family rental property and at the end of the day it will have 70,000 sqft roughly of commercial ground floor space. From the Redevelopment Agency's perspective, we tried the best we could to intergrate mixed use within the urban cooridoor.
Serrano noted that redevelopment in Norwalk does not always mean big business.
"While we're working with project areas, we try to either improve the existing housing stock or bring new developers to develop it, it's kind of bringing life back into that area. I think it's important for the public to know, it's not just big developments. There's initiatives to help smaller 2-3 family projects of owner occupied properties that may be around big projects and I think that's the big part of understanding that is part of redevelopment."
"You have to have effective land use policy and that's one of the issues I think from Norwalk's perspective we have to continually take a look at to insure that it's balanced development across the City and that the developments that are being advanced are contributing to the built environment that surrounds them, so that we're not only enhancing our grand list, we're making our City a better place," added Sheehan.