Promoting the business of Putnam, CT while encouraging the growth and success of Downtown

Opportunities & Challenges

In 2010, the Town of Putnam held several facilitated community forums entitled “Visions 2020”. With more than 25 businesses in attendance, a plan was developed for the revitalization of the Downtown district. Challenges were identified: storefront vacancies; blighted mill properties; the effects of online shopping; competition with Big Box stores; poverty, and complacency. Out of this community conversation arose a rejuvenated Putnam Business Association (PBA).

With many empty store fronts looming and a newly initiated Façade Program as an inspiration for downtown businesses, the Putnam Business Association capitalized on the opportunity to create an organization that would hold what was best for Putnam at its core. The PBA was established by local business owners who understood that, to achieve success both as an Association and for the town of Putnam, they needed to work together.

Highlights

The Putnam Business Association was formed by a small group of business owners with a unified vision: to promote and publicize the business of Putnam, Connecticut. The PBA leadership forged partnerships and adopted a mantra that ‘change is good’ – forget blaming the past and be ready for what the future holds!

The PBA works closely with the Town through its Economic and Community Development and Recreation Departments to ensure each community constituency is represented and invested. The success of the PBA’s efforts are reflected in their sponsored events, which collectively attract thousands of community members from across the region throughout the year:

February – Fire & Ice Festival The largest single ice-block competition in the U.S. takes place Valentine’s Day weekend and encourages local businesses and organizations to line the sidewalks of Main Street with their ice carving creations.  Thousands of residents and visitors enjoy the festival which also features a fire dancer, ice luge and life size sculptures.

May through October – First Friday Street Fairs The award-winning, themed event combines arts, culture, music and fun for all ages. The highly anticipated Zombie Fashion Show in October wraps up the season and features participation by local celebrities, politicians and performers.

Fall – The Great Pumpkin Festival includes a full day of events, such as a scenic train excursion, flea market, craft fair, pumpkin-carving contest, food court, art exhibitions and live music. It is also an opportunity for townspeople to be civically engaged through the highly anticipated and beneficial Beautification Day.

November – The Dazzle Light Parade, which in 2018 brought a crowd of 20,000 to watch 160 floats light up on the Sunday after Thanksgiving evening, kicking off the holiday season with a spirit of camaraderie and fun.

Outcome & Impact

This unified and collaborative vision to encourage all of Putnam’s businesses has seen the Putnam Business Association grow to 208 active members. In a town with approximately 9,000 residents, 208 active business association members is a huge success!

The PBA encourages consistent communication through monthly meetings with nearly 80 members in attendance, as well as Business Mixers and sponsoring numerous events.  Members willingly serve on committees ranging from membership and by-laws to specific events. Membership is open to any business or organization in the Putnam area that services the community of Putnam and offers business presentation and networking opportunities, representation on association websites and social media, as well as unified advertising and public relations.

With a goal of attracting more visitors, the PBA is the exclusive sponsor of DiscoverPutnam, created by and on behalf of PBA members, to serve as an advertising and marketing campaign through which the community gains increased exposure as a premiere tourist destination in Connecticut and New England. The PBA has earned the respect of past and present political leadership, and is valued as a strong voice for positive change and building relationships in the community.