(Hartford, CT – May 1, 2015) -A high school AP economics class that engages students in proactive land-use planning and the owners of a downtown Segway tour company that let the community help name their new business are just two of the initiatives chosen to receive a 2015 Award of Excellence from the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC).

In total seven recipients were selected for the prestigious award including organizations and initiatives from Mansfield, New London, Putnam, Simsbury, Waterbury, and Upper Albany, Hartford. The other winning entries included a First Fridays series that draws thousands of visitors with its hands-on arts and cultural events; a massive, multi-cultural downtown gathering of dozens of ethnic groups to celebrate a common community pride; a multi-year, multi-million dollar public/private partnership to design and build a brand-new town center; and a local merchant who remains committed to the neighborhood and the state despite becoming an international success.

For the first time in the history of the awards program, a state agency was also selected to receive an award. The CT Department of Transportation received a special award for Starting a Revolution: Integration of Land Use and Transit in recognition of the progressive nature of CTfastrak, the bus rapid transit system opened earlier this year. The awards jury that selected the winners gave the award because they felt the new busway represents a cultural shift in how Connecticut views transit, and wanted to acknowledge the future promise of transit oriented development that will hopefully result around the station locations.

“Our downtowns and town centers represent what’s unique about Connecticut – combining historic charm and stalwart character with the modern amenities that will help us thrive into the future,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy “I applaud the award winners for how they’re embracing that challenge – involving the community in the success of their downtowns through patronage of local businesses, acting as community leaders and building places for us to live, work and raise our families. The people behind these winning initiatives know that when we strive together, we thrive together – not just today, but for years to come.”

“Our members continue to impress us with how they support, encourage and implement new ideas from the ground up,” said CMSC President & CEO John Simone. “They’re constantly forming partnerships with new groups, working to sustain local merchants, and tirelessly promoting how wonderful our downtowns and Main Streets are. We’re proud of their efforts and excited to share their achievements with everyone else.”

The Connecticut Main Street Awards of Excellence were created in 2003 to recognize outstanding projects, individuals and partnerships in community efforts to bring traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts back to life, socially and economically. The Connecticut Main Street Awards annually celebrate and communicate the most successful and innovative efforts in Main Street revitalization in Connecticut. A jury comprised of industry-related professionals and CMSC staff judged the submissions on criteria that included innovation, replication, representation, partnerships utilized, and outcomes.

The awards will be presented at the 2015 Connecticut Main Street Awards Gala on June 8th at Trinity-on-Main in downtown New Britain. This year’s event will feature guided tours of downtown New Britain, including a Downtown Arts, Heritage & Culture tour, a tour of Walnut Hill Rose Garden & New Britain Museum of American Art, and a tour of CTfastrak in New Britain: Transportation, Housing & Main Street.The full list of 2015 Awards of Excellence winners is as follows:

2015 Connecticut Main Street Awards of Excellence

Main Street Partnership

▪          Award of Excellence for Simsbury High School AP Economics Course, to Simsbury Main Street Partnership and Simsbury High School.


▪          Award of Excellence for Step by Step: Building a Downtown from Scratch (Storrs Center), to Mansfield Downtown Partnership, the Town of Mansfield, UConn, LeylandAlliance and the Citizens of Mansfield.

Events & Programming – Sponsored by Webster Bank

▪          Award of Excellence for The Gathering (Downtown Waterbury), to the City of Waterbury, the Waterbury Observer, and Main Street Waterbury.

Award of Merit for Events & Programming

▪          Award of Excellence for First Fridays (Downtown Putnam), to the Town of Putnam, Putnam Business Association, and the Putnam Arts Council.

Business Owner of the Year

▪          Award of Excellence to Dawn & Kristin Harkness / Wheeling City Tours (New London), Submitted by New London Main Street.

2015 Main Street Pioneer: Outstanding Commitment to The Avenue – Sponsored by Webster Bank

▪          Award of Excellence to Vivian Akuoko / Evay Cosmetics (Upper Albany Avenue, Hartford), Submitted by Upper Albany Main Street.

Starting a Revolution: Integration of Land Use and Transit

▪          Award of Excellence for CTfastrak, to the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG).

2015 Nationally Accredited Main Street Programs

▪          New London Main Street
▪          Simsbury Main Street Partnership
▪          Upper Albany Main Street (Hartford)
▪          Main Street Waterbury

CMSC would also like to thank our generous Awards Gala sponsors:


Taste of New Britain Reception Sponsor

UIL Holdings

Downtown New Britain Tour Sponsors

Baywater Properties     CWPM     Downes Construction Company     Fuss & O’Neill     McPhee Electric LTD

Award Sponsors

Webster Bank

Colliers International     Farmington Bank     Liberty Bank     Richter & Cegan

Main Street Sponsors

CDM Smith     CEDAS     Corporation for Independent Living     Express Strategies

Pirie Associates Architects, LLC     Svigals + Partners



About Connecticut Main Street Center

The mission of CT Main Street Center is to be the champion and leading resource for vibrant and sustainable Main Streets as foundations for healthy communities. CMSC is dedicated to community and economic development within the context of historic preservation, and is committed to bringing Connecticut’s commercial districts back to life socially and economically.

The Main Street initiative is one of the most successful economic development programs in the country. For every $1 spent on a local Main Street program, over $71 is reinvested in Connecticut Main Street downtowns. CMSC is supported by its Founding Sponsors, the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and Eversource. CMSC is also supported by its Growth Sponsors, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org.

Christine Schilke