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Author: dka

Capital for Change (C4C)

Capital for Change (C4C) is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that provides high impact lending products and programs to increase energy efficiency, nurture small business development, finance multifamily and mixed-use developments, and create and preserve affordable housing. They champion projects of all kinds with an approach that one size does not fit all.

They understand that as our downtowns go, so goes our state. C4C cares deeply about restoring vitality and community pride in Connecticut’s urban centers and legacy cities. Downtowns are underutilized economic engines that can create jobs and tax revenue, promote cultural activities, supply affordable housing, along with other benefits.

C4C assists public and quasi-public entities by facilitating the implementation of publicly-funded programs and projects by providing loan underwriting services, portfolio management, loan servicing or program and funding administration.

For more information contact Carolyn I. Gonzalez at cgonzalez@capitalforchange.org or (203) 332-7977 ext. 2407. You can also visit their website at www.capitalforchange.org.

People’s United Bank

Founded in 1842, People’s United Bank is a premier, community-based, regional Northeast bank with more than 5,500 employees offering commercial and retail banking, as well as wealth management services. Whether it is for personal or business needs, their customers and their needs come first.

For more than 175 years, People’s United Bank has been an active member of the communities where they live and work, and a strong philanthropic partner committed to investing time and money to meet the needs of individuals, families, businesses, and entire communities. They take the responsibility to be good neighbors seriously, and are committed to a legacy of giving back to communities.

For more information on People’s United Bank and how they can help you, visit their website at www.peoples.com/personal.

UIL Holdings

UIL Holdings (formerly the United Illuminating Company (UI)) has long supported CMSC, answering the call in 2008 for larger supporters so that CMSC could grow purposefully and further our mission of inspiring great Connecticut downtowns. They continue to be a consistent and generous supporter of our work providing education and on-the-ground guidance to Connecticut’s downtowns.

UIL Holdings is a New Haven-based regional distribution utility established in 1899. They engage in the purchase, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity and related services to more than 324,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the Greater New Haven and Bridgeport areas.

Learn more about UIL Holdings

Eversource Energy

Eversource’s precursor, the Connecticut Light & Power Company (CL&P) established the Connecticut Main Street Program in 1995. They recognized there was no comprehensive approach to revitalizing our historic commercial districts and they were concerned with protecting their significant investment in infrastructure in the State’s downtowns. As a result, they provided the funding and internal administrative resources to establish the Connecticut Main Street Program.

In recognition of their steadfast commitment to the Connecticut Main Street program, in 2006 they were awarded the coveted National Main Street Business Leadership Award. To this day, Eversource Energy remains the only private corporation in the country to solely sponsor and administer a statewide Main Street initiative.

2017 Award Winner John Simone stands with a team of supporters from Eversource, including Board member Toni Berlandy (r).

Eversource has continued to invest in CMSC, underscoring its historic and ongoing commitment to the communities it serves. CMSC views Eversource as an important ally and partner in our work. In addition to providing office space and financial support that enable us to carry out our mission, Eversource also supports economic development activities across the state through their Foundation; as a leader in sustainability efforts; and is an integral part of the state’s Housing Tax Credit Contribution program, serving as the single largest purchaser of the credits. In recognition of their commitment to CMSC and Connecticut’s communities, we bestow the Founders Award, presented by Eversource, which is given to individuals and organizations who dedicate themselves to promoting an awareness of the necessity of a comprehensive management approach to the revitalization of Connecticut’s historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

Learn more about Eversource

CT Department of Economic & Community Development

Realizing it would be necessary to gather a combination of public and private support to grow Connecticut Main Street, Eversource Energy (then CL&P) proposed restructuring the program in 1999. With the support of then-Lt. Governor M. Jodi Rell, Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) became a private nonprofit corporation with its own board of directors.  In 2000, and continuing through the present day, the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) supports CMSC as a Founding Partner.

DECD’s partnership with CMSC makes good sense for Connecticut’s downtowns.  Long-term planning, economic and community development, and historic preservation are all activities we collaborate on to create healthy communities.

Learn more about DECD

COVID Era Street Changes Could Bring on Urban Renaissance

As society steps out of the fog of that we have endured over past two years, downtowns should continue to look to the measures we took during the COVID-19 pandemic for ways to re-engage people in our public spaces. One action many communities quickly took was ensuring that bars and restaurants could use and expand their outdoor dining beyond their patios. For some cities and towns, this meant blocking off parking spaces to allow for extra seating away from the confined indoor model that was not going to work in cooperation with enacted social distancing guidelines. For many, this was a shift in policy. Prior to COVID, expanding restaurant space into designated parking sometimes proved difficult. In fact, for most of the 20th century and to the modern day, automobiles almost always took precedent. However, in the midst of a global health crisis, with many working from home, our once congested downtown streets were wide open.

This led to an urban revolution. Not only were parking spaces used for dining, but whole streets were shut off to vehicles and people-oriented programming took their place. Cities like Oakland closed over 70 miles of streets to vehicular traffic citing an effort to “give Oaklanders space to spread out”. In New York, an entire avenue in Queens was closed for folk dancing lessons. These are just a couple examples of ways cities gave their residents areas to socially distance while remaining connected to their community.

Locally in Manchester, we have implemented temporary and weekend closures on one of our side streets in the heart of downtown. In coordination with the RiseUP Group, we programmed Purnell Place

 to become an oasis of public art, yard games, and live music while simply providing a space to enjoy the beautiful architecture and attractions that Main Streets offer.

All of this is not to say that cars will not have a future in our downtowns. Main Street merchants rely on automobile traffic and available parking in order to attract and retain large enough customer bases to sustain their business. Put simply, the effort to add more space for pedestrians is not to take away from our downtowns but instead to add another dynamic element of attraction. We ought to ensure that our Main Streets are adapting to the public’s desire to attend activities like outdoor concerts, dine alfresco and enjoy the ambiance and experience that a downtown setting provides.

Hear more from Dan about Manchester’s successes in our webinar Small Things that Make a Big Difference with Dan Pesce, Matt Conway of the RiseUp Group and Win Davis from New Haven’s Town Green District.

About the Author

Dan Pesce received his BA in Urban and Community Studies from the University of Connecticut. He currently serves as the Downtown Development Specialist for the Town of Manchester

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