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Author: Christine Schilke

Old Saybrook Issues RFP for Marketing Services

Old Saybrook Issues RFP For Marketing Services

January 17, 2023

The Town of Old Saybrook Economic Development Commission is seeking proposals to provide marketing services in support of its activities and interests including, marketing strategy development and annual schedule, digital advertising, social media management, content creation, website improvements and branding of the downtown and shopping district.

Proposals must be received no later than February 27, 2023 at 4:30 p.m. 

Click here to view the RFP


About Connecticut Main Street Center

CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

CMSC is supported by its Founding Partners, Eversource Energy and the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD). CMSC is also supported by its Growth Partners, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org

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CMSC Mourns the Loss of Rep. Q Williams

CMSC Mourns the Loss of Rep. Q Williams

January 5, 202

(Hartford, CT) – Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) is devastated to learn of the tragic passing of Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams. 

Q was a longtime friend and supporter of CMSC, most recently as a collaborator and advocate through his leadership on the Main Street Working Group of the legislature. Due to his outstanding accomplishments, CMSC recently honored Q and his Working Group co-chairs with the 2022 Jack Shannahan Award for Public Service. Q was also an attendee and speaker at CMSC’s recent Spotlight on Main Street event in Downtown Middletown, as well as a past webinar presenter. In addition to his work championing Connecticut’s main streets, he provided critical support on many other important issues, including education, housing, and workforce development.

“Q was changing the world. His passion, dedication to service, and his keen intelligence were special and rare. Not only did we enjoy working with him on behalf of our downtowns, but we enjoyed working with Q, the person. His smile lit up the room. I know he was excited for session to begin and was full of incredible ideas to benefit all the residents of Connecticut. We will miss him greatly,” said Michelle McCabe, CMSC Executive Director.

CMSC extends its deepest condolences to Q’s family during this difficult time, and to his many friends and colleagues across the state.

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Media Contact
Christine Schilke
Communications & Strategy Director
860-280.2356
christine@ctmainstreet.org


About Connecticut Main Street Center

CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

CMSC is supported by its Founding Sponsors, the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and Eversource Energy. CMSC is also supported by its Growth Sponsors, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org

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CSMC Webinar: Secrets to Success – CT Small Business Boost Fund

CMSC Webinar

Secrets to Success: CT Small Business Boost Program

Webinar Summary

In this webinar presenter Marlon Samuels gives us a a behind-the-scenes look at the Connecticut Small Business Boost Fund, a new resource for Connecticut’s small businesses supported by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

This webinar builds on our prior webinar, Funding Your Main Street which offered an overview of the program. 

With loans ranging from $5,000 – $500,000, no origination fees, a low interest rate, and a focus on underserved business owners, the CT Small Business Boost Fund is a flexible program with quick turnaround that can help many Main Street businesses get the capital they need.


Presentation Highlights

  • Program details

    Marlon Samuels from Pursuit Lending provided the following information which is based on how Pursuit underwrites their CT Small Business Boost Loans. The program’s other participating lenders may have different underwriting criteria. 

    • The amount ultimately loaned to a business is based on several factors such as the business’s revenue, years in business, and size.
      • Businesses under 1 year old have loans  capped at $100,000
      • Businesses over 1 year old can have loans as high as $500,000
      • Loans over $100,000 have a 6 year-repayment term, while loans under $100,000 have a 5-year repayment term
    • With regard to underwriting the loans, the program is more focused on cash flow analysis
      • Debt service coverage ratio is 1.15%
      • Usually based off previous tax year
      • For businesses that hadn’t recovered yet in 2021 (perhaps due to a shut down), they will also look at 2022 interim financials. 
    • A minimum credit score of 640 is required, however, the program allows some flexibility to the lender to make decisions about waiving this requirement. For Pursuit, it’s less about the score itself than what’s driving it.
      • For example, one loan applicant had a score in the 500s, but it was great (in the high 700s) until Covid. That’s because she was late on her bills rather than layoff any of her employees. Because of her prior good credit and actions during Covid, Pursuit was able to still provide her with a loan.
      • Pursuit also allows borrowers to have an guarantor to offset their credit score. They’ll average the applicant’s credit score with the guarantor’s. The guarantor doesn’t have to be a person with ownership interest in the business or someone in your household. But they do have to have income, good credit score and be willing to take on the risk.
    • Who is the loan fund good for?

      • This program is great for small businesses that don’t fit traditional financing, especially since this is a much better rate than they’d get elsewhere, or even at prime rate. A lot of underserved businesses get stuck in a cycle of borrowing to cover debt but this program can help small businesses take on debt that’ll help them grow.
      • CT Small Business Boost Fund loans are ideal for businesses seeking financing for:
        • Working capital & inventory
        • Equipment purchases
        • Leasehold improvements
        • Debt refinance
        • Payroll
        • Utilities
        • Rent
    • Streamlining the Process & Common Obstacles

      How to Streamline the Application Process

      Marlon Samuels recommends small business applicants take the following steps to streamline the application process.

      • Pre-Application
        • Gather the needed documents before applying. You can work with a technical assistance provider like the CT Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for free. 
      • Post-Approval Most of the obstacles Pursuit is seeing are happening in this phase.
        • After you’re approved, you’ll receive a commitment letter from the lender, telling you the amount you’ve been approved for, along with a DOL release forms. It’s important to sign and return the documents as this starts the closing process.
          • Your commitment letter may be less than you requested, or it may be more than you want. For instance, you may have asked for $200,000 but only been approved for a $100,000 loan. Or you may have been approved for a $100,000 loan, but you only need $50,000 right now. You can accept up to the approved $100,000 loan amount. 
        • The small business owner needs to get a tax status letter. This has been a challenge for a lot of people, because some are getting letters saying they owe taxes. It’s important to note that at the beginning of the program, it was required the applicant completely pay off the taxes. Now it may be that they just need to show proof of a payment plan or have made 3 consecutive payments.
        • There will be a site visit conducted by a third party to verify the business operations.
        • A Confirmation of Good Standing Letter is needed from the Department of Labor
        • Business owners will have to present a Valid Operating License, depending on the type of business (i.e. a restaurant or daycare).
        • A Certificate of Legal Existence is also required. Business owners can request this from the CT Secretary of State as soon as they begin the application process. It’s good for 90 days.

      Approval to Funding Timeline

      The time is takes from approval to funding depends on each case, and usually depends on 2 factors:

      • Responsiveness of the applicant
      • Whether there any challenges getting the documents needed.

      From the lender’s perspective, it takes about 1 week to make a decision on an application.

      • Within the first 24 hours they do a quality check – are all the needed documents there?
      • Then it’s another 9-10 days to close, however it can take weeks, usually due to the same 2 factors: how quickly applicants respond and getting the necessary documents.
      • Some common barriers to closing include:
        • Businesses owing taxes 
        • The Department of Labor not providing verification. This could be because a business isn’t registered with DOL, or because the business owes employment-related taxes. 
        • Language and/or technical barriers, for instance, having trouble with the all-electronic application process.
        • Delay in identifying and submitting currenting licenses or tax status letters
        • Delay in signing documents

      A closing representative can help with these issues and answer questions the applicant may have.

    • A Main Street Perspective

      Carl Rosa, Connecticut Main Street Center Field Services Director describes how downtown businesses can use program funds.

      • Common uses for the CT Small Business Boost funds for businesses on Main Street:
        • Façade improvement – if your program requires a match, this program could provide the match for things such as lighting, window displays, etc.
        • Signage
        • Awning installation
        • Exterior lighting
      • Restaurant uses for the funds can include:
        • New kitchen or equipment/upgrades. 
          • During the pandemic, restaurants that could offered outside eating. These funds could help maintain and expand these outside eating features, for instance modular outdoor dining set ups.
        • Payroll support through slow seasons
      • Retail examples include:
        • Acquiring seasonal inventory or new products/services
        • Marketing and advertising, including a new website
        • Window displays – funds can be used to hire a professional to design a window display or improve lighting
        • Upgrade security equipment
      • Services-Based or Non-profits uses include:
        • Leasehold renovation and office set up
        • Onboarding a new software system
        • New website
      • It’s best to talk with your Main Street businesses to see what they need, suggest possible uses and discuss whether the Small Business Boost Fund is a good fit for them.
    • Additional Questions

      • What does the portal matching process look like?
        • Each lender can have their own underwriting criteria, for instance different credit scores. There’s a series of questions when you go in the portal, and depending on how you answer, you’ll be matched with one or more lender.
        • If you’re matched with more than one you can choose who you want to work with. There’ll be a write up and timeframe to closing provided for each lender.
        • If you don’t match any lenders, you’ll only see technical assistance providers listed. It’s their job to help the business owner understand why they weren’t matched, as it could be as simple as not filling out the form properly.
      • The CT Small Business Boost Fund is not like the PPP fund – the Boost funds are not running out, so businesses can and should take the time to connect with the technical assistance professional to make sure your paperwork is complete.

    View the Recording


    About the Presenters

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    CMSC Executive Director McCabe on For the People

    CMSC Executive Director McCabe on For the People

    Tune in to the award-winning For the People to hear CMSC Executive Director Michelle McCabe’s  interview with John Voket as they talk about the importance of a lively Main Street and how CMSC help Connecticut’s downtowns thrive. Ms. McCabe’s interview is the third segment, starting at 42:15.

    You can listen to the latest For the People featuring Ms. McCabe here, or find the podcast through their social networks:


    About Connecticut Main Street Center

    CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

    CMSC is supported by its Founding Partners, Eversource Energy and the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD). CMSC is also supported by its Growth Partners, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org

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    CMSC Executive Director on CBIA BizCast

    CMSC Executive Director McCabe on CBIA BizCast

    December 16, 2022

    Connecticut Main Street Center Executive Director Michelle McCabe joined the CBIA BizCast team to talk about what the organization is doing to revitalize downtowns across the state.

    The Connecticut native has been working for nonprofit organizations for many years and recently brought her skills and passion to CMSC. “Main Street itself is an ecosystem. It’s a place where so any different people, interests, and activities not only come together, but have to work together,” Ms. McCabe said. “It’s not just your business in your store. You are part of the fabric of a lot of businesses and entities. If they are all working together, that is what makes success.”

    View the Recording


    About Connecticut Main Street Center

    CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

    CMSC is supported by its Founding Partners, Eversource Energy and the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD). CMSC is also supported by its Growth Partners, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org

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    New Britain Issues RFP for 125 Columbus Blvd

    New Britain Issues RFP for 125 Columbus Blvd

    The City of New Britain is seeking responses to a request for proposals for the redevelopment of the 125 Columbus Blvd parcel, adjacent to the former Police Station site and the Columbus Commons Phase I project.

    The location provides easy pedestrian access to Downtown New Britain and will offer eclectic urban views from upper-story residential units. The site has undergone Phase II and III environmental assessment, which was completed in the first quarter of 2022. At approximately 0.85 acres, the site enjoys a level grade and access to municipal and public utilities. Bounded by Columbus Boulevard and Herald Square, both rights-of-way have undergone recent streetscape improvements. The parcel’s location in the City’s Central Business District (CBD) zone provides significant flexibility in regards to dimensional, density, parking, and allowable use requirements—giving the developer a wide range of construction options. View the Request for Proposals

    Bids are due electronically by 4:00pm on Friday, January 27, 2023. 


    About Connecticut Main Street Center

    CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

    CMSC is supported by its Founding Partners, Eversource Energy and the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD). CMSC is also supported by its Growth Partners, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org

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    CSMC Webinar: Funding Your Main Street – CT Small Business Boost Fund

    CMSC Webinar

    Funding Your Main Street: CT Small Business Boost Program

    Webinar Summary

    The Connecticut Small Business Boost Fund is a new resource for Connecticut’s small businesses supported by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

    With loans ranging from $5,000 – $500,000, no origination fees, a low interest rate, and a focus on underserved business owners, the CT Small Business Boost Fund is a flexible program with quick turnaround that can help many Main Street businesses get the capital they need.

    It is funded through a public-private partnership, with funds provided by the Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and six private banks.


    Presentation Highlights

    • How the loans work

      Kevin Gremse, NDC

      • NDC is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides lending for the CT Small Business Boost Program. The program is public/private partnership, meaning it is capitalized by a combination of state and private bank funds. This type of loan model is active in 18 states throughout the country.
        • There are currently six CT banks funding the program: M&T Bank, Key Bank, First Republic Bank, Webster Bank, and Citizens Bank.
        • The loan program is expected to be active for the next 3-5 years. The state’s investment is $75 million, the banks are providing at least $75 million.
      • The loans are aimed at helping small businesses and non-profits in distressed areas, and those owned by women and minorities (MWBE). It’s also targeted to businesses that need smaller loans between $5,000-$150,000. Larger loans of $150,000-500,000 are limited to 10% of the loan portfolio.
        • There are 25 distressed communities in CT, as designated by DECD. The aim is to have at least half of the loans go to businesses in these areas.
      • To date, the CDFI’s have provided about 110 loans totaling $16 million. The average loan over the last 3 months was approximately $150,000 but will likely go down over the coming months as the volume of loans increases.
        • Of the 7 CDFI lenders, 4 are CT-based; 3 are based in other state but have experience in this type of lending and so were brought in as lenders.
        • Businesses can choose which CDFI they want to work with. The application is centralized through one platform no matter which lender the business works with.
      • A key part of the program is aligning technical assistance with capital assistance. In CT, the main technical assistance provider is the Small Business Development Center.
    • Technical assistance for businesses

      Scott Arnold, SBDC

      • This loan is designed to reach businesses in areas that weren’t reached through DECD’s prior Business Express lending program.
      • The technical assistance offered through the Small Business Boost Fund is free, confidential and professional.
      • There are 3 types of assistance offered: pre-loan, packaging (during) the loan, and post-loan assistance.
        • SBDC will help applicants determine their eligibility, understand the program details and conditions, provide business templates, understand required documentation, review their loan package, and more.
        • They’ll also help businesses consider whether they can repay the loan, even if they’re eligible for the funds.
    • A Main Street Perspective

      Carl Rosa, Connecticut Main Street Center

      • Small Main Street businesses can use the loan funds for a variety of purposes including creating a marketing plan that addresses social media, websites or setting up online sales.
      • Restaurants can use the funds to update their décor, kitchen equipment or outdoor seating.
      • Retail businesses can use the funds for expanding inventory, new equipment, enhancing displays, updating point of sale technology, business security systems, or expanding product lines, etc.
      • Service-based or non-profit businesses can use the funds for leasehold renovations, new software systems, or new websites.
      • It’s best to talk with your Main Street businesses to see what they need, suggest possible uses and discuss whether the Small Business Boost Fund is a good fit for them.
    • Additional Questions

      • Can businesses not in distressed areas utilize the funds?
        • Yes, up to half of the loans will be available to businesses in non-distressed areas.
      • Is the funding only available to brick-and-mortar businesses?
        • No, small online businesses (non brick-and-mortar) are also eligible for the funds.
      • Can SBDC help small businesses obtain Minority or Women Business Owned certification?
        • Yes, they can help them achieve WMBE certification.

    View the Recording


    About the Presenters

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    Town of Mansfield Seeks Lead, Environmental Planners

    The Town of Mansfield is seeking qualified candidates for two positions, Lead Planner & Environmental Planner.

    • Lead Planner – This position is accountable for performing highly complex, professional and technical work in the administration of the Town’s planning and development program. This position is responsible for coordinating the development, design, implementation, and monitoring of long-range, highly technical and critical planning having town-wide or regional impact.
    • Environmental Planner – This position is responsible for independently performing intermediate to complex, professional and technical work in the administration of planning and natural resources management activities. This class is also accountable for performing a full range of tasks in the technical review and analysis of environmental program data and issues, developing recommendations for courses of action and assisting with the implementation of policy and program decisions.

    Find both position descriptions and apply on the Town of Mansfield website.

    Towns of Bolton, Coventry, Mansfield & Tolland Develop New Regional Tourism Brand: Connecticut’s Countryside

    Towns of Bolton, Coventry, Mansfield & Tolland Develop New Regional Tourism Brand: Connecticut’s Countryside – Adventure, Agriculture, Arts & More

    December 3, 2022

    The Towns of Bolton, Coventry, Mansfield, and Tolland are launching a new logo and brand positioning – Connecticut’s Countryside – that reflects the strengths of the four-town region to encourage visitors and support business growth.

    Connecticut’s Countryside was selected from three potential brand concepts evaluated as part of a community input process, including a widely distributed survey. The Connecticut Countryside brand was the clear favorite and will be used in marketing the region. Dornenburg Kallenbach Advertising (DKA), the firm who designed the brand, also created a corresponding marketing implementation plan to guide the efforts to promote the region.

    An Action Plan for Economic Vitality prepared in 2020 by AdvanceCT, in collaboration with the CT Department of Community & Economic Development, determined that the region has a significant opportunity as a desirable destination to dine, shop and play, based upon its distinctive combination of resources across the four towns. These resources include outdoor recreation, agriculture and agri-tourism, culture and entertainment, higher education institutions, and small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

    This new collective brand for the region as a destination will be a supplement to each individual Town’s marketing, and will not replace each individual Town’s logo or branding


    About Connecticut Main Street Center

    CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

    CMSC is supported by its Founding Partners, Eversource Energy and the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD). CMSC is also supported by its Growth Partners, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org

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    Spotlight on Main Street: Middletown

    Spotlight on Main Street: Middletown

    • CMSC: DT Middletown

    • CMSC: Middletown Main St

    • CMSC: Q Williams w guests

    • CMSC: Lt Gov Susan Bysiewicz

    • CMSC: DBD Coord Sandra Russo-Driska

    • CMSC: Middletown PD Chief Erik Costa

    • CMSC: Dominick DeMartino_DeMartino Development

    • CMSC: DeMartino Housing Rehab

    • CMSC: JR Hargraves Redev 1

    • CMSC: JR Hargraves Redev 2

    • CMSC: JR Hargraves_Hargraves Development

    • CMSC: JR Hargraves Redev Renderings

    • CMSC: KidCity 1

    • CMSC: KidCity 2

    • CMSC: Mayor Ben Florsheim

    • CMSC: Rep Quentin Williams

    • CMSC: Middletown DBD

    Since 2013, CMSC and CEDAS have partnered on our Spotlight on Main Street networking events, where a hosting CMSC community shares how they have addressed local obstacles and achieved success in their downtown through collaboration, economic,  and community development.

    In October 2022, CMSC & CEDAS members were treated to a behind-the-scenes view of the seven walkable blocks of Middletown’s Main Street, home to nearly 200 independent businesses from family-owned for generations to brand new, nestled along the Connecticut River. 

    This event presented by

    Highlights included:

    • A Welcome Reception on the Community Health Center Rooftop 
    • Guided walking tours of the downtown
    • A Closing reception hosted by the Inn at Middletown

    With thanks to our host the Middletown Downtown Business District, a CMSC member community and speakers:

    • Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz
    • Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim
    • Jen Alexander, Chair, Downtown Business District
    • Sandra Russo-Driska, Downtown Business District Coordinator
    • Middletown Police Chief Erik Costa
    • Dominick DeMartino, DeMartino Development
    • JR Hargraves, Hargraves Development 
    • Larry McHugh, President, Middlesex County Chamber

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      P.O. Box 270, Hartford, CT 06141 | 860.280.2337