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CMSC Summit

Addressing Blight & Vacancy on Main Street

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  • CMSC Summit: Addressing Blight & Vacancy On Main Street
Presented by Liberty Bank

Main streets are the face of the community. They welcome visitors, provide residents and community members with a sense of identity, house many small businesses, and host the arts, culture and entertainment that bring life to a municipality. Empty storefronts and blighted properties in downtowns and village centers drag a community down, undermining economic vitality and pride of place for surrounding buildings and businesses.

View the Blight Panel
View the Vacancy Panel
Speaker Bios & Presentations
Sarah Bodley, reSET co/ BL&D

Sarah Bodley, Executive Director of reSET Social Enterprise Trust, is a nonprofit professional with over a decade of experience leading organizations focused on entrepreneurship and the arts. A former professional modern dancer, Sarah earned a BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase and an MBA in Sustainability from Bard College. She is passionate about systems change, sustainability, equality and justice, and believes that business should be a positive force for change in the world.

View Sarah’s Presentation (PDF)

Jonathan Delgado, City of Bridgeport

Jonathan Delgado serves as a Sr. Economic Development Associate for the City of Bridgeport’s Office of Planning & Economic Development. In this role, he works with developers, business owners and local community through the administration of various City programs and initiatives. Previously, Jonathan served as Assistant Director for Community-Engaged Research in Fairfield University’s Center for Social Impact, where he worked with staff, faculty and students to design and implement research projects with community partners. Jonathan received his Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Connecticut, and his Master of Public Administration degree from Fairfield University.

View Jonathan’s Presentation (PDF)

Chris Edge, Town of Berlin

Chris Edge has been the Economic Development Director for the Town of Berlin since January 2015.  He works with companies, individuals, entrepreneurs and others to enhance Berlin. This includes guidance with local government, programs and resources to launch from home into a storefront, move to town, and expand in town.  Previous work – finding employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and a part-time commercial real estate agent.  Has been a foster parent for almost 19 years and resides in Avon with his wife, 2 sons and 2 daughters.

View Chris’s Presentation (PDF)

Kevin Gremse, Grow America

Kevin Gremse is an economic development professional with over three decades of experience. As a Senior Director at Grow America (formerly NDC), Kevin manages a team of professionals who work in over thirty municipalities in the eastern United States. Kevin coordinates a multi-disciplined set of economic and housing development services, including technical assistance, training, and small business lending, and tax credit equity investment to a wide range of clients. Kevin advances the work of Grow America’s affiliated programs, including its federal tax credit programs, its public facility development division, and its small business lending company in client communities. Kevin has used his working knowledge of business credit and real estate underwriting and proven experience with federal, state, and local economic development incentive programs to structure business and real estate development transactions exceeding $6 billion throughout the country.

View Kevin’s Presentation (PDF)

Peter Ludwig, CT Green Bank

Peter leads market engagement for the Connecticut Green Bank’s commercial building solutions. He helps building owners, contractors and other partners understand and access green energy financing programs for commercial and multifamily buildings.

View Peter’s Presentation (PDF)

Brian McCann, Pullman & Comley

Brian is a partner at the law firm Pullman & Comley.  He represents businesses and individuals before municipal boards and commissions, and prosecutes and defends administrative appeals regarding issuance and denial of municipal approvals. 

Prior to joining Pullman & Comley, Brian served as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Norwalk for fourteen years, and, in that position, he counseled officials in the performance of their duties, drafted and implemented new ordinances (such as a blight ordinance, and a zoning citation ordinance), prosecuted hundreds of injunctions to enforce code violations, and defended the City in hundreds of administrative appeals.

View Brian’s Presentation (PDF)

Yvonne Zhao, City of Hartford

Yvonne Zhao is the Director of Small Business Initiatives and Support at the City of Hartford. With expertise in economic development and entrepreneurship, she leads initiatives such as the Hartlift program and the Small Business Facade program. Yvonne is a certified entrepreneurship development professional through the International Economic Development Council. Before her tenure at the City of Hartford, she contributed to regional economic development efforts in upstate New York, where she gained valuable insights and experience in downtown revitalization and main street development through collaborative public-private partnerships.

View Yvonne’s Presentation (PDF)

With thanks to our Sponsors!

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