August 9, 2020

Op-Ed: Old Lyme EDC Completes Fact-Finding Stage of ‘Smart Growth’ Development Plan, Seeks Additional Public Input to Move Forward

Editor’s Note: The authors, Justin Fuller and Howard Margules, are the Co-Chairs of the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission.

The Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) launched three initiatives as its first step in crafting a “smart growth” economic development strategy for Old Lyme focused on maintaining the small-town character and charm of our unique town.

We realized the success of the plan depended upon providing opportunities for the public’s voice to be heard. Therefore, we designed the project with this in mind.

The three studies are now complete, and we are pleased to share the results with you.

We believe the findings in these reports will provide essential insights for not only the mission of the EDC but also will provide valuable information for the town’s other boards, commissions, and stakeholders.

The EDC has two main goals: first, attracting new businesses that fit the character of Old Lyme, and second, supporting existing businesses. These studies provided information essential in meeting these goals.

We were delighted by the community’s high level of participation, and we sincerely thank those who participated in completing the survey and to the SWOT attendees who gave up a portion of their free time to share their ideas with the commission.

We are committed to turning these findings into recommendations aimed at enhancing our town’s future.

Our efforts were greatly assisted by Advance CT (formerly known as the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, CERC) in crafting these three reports. They provide a comprehensive sound foundation to build upon, but will require adjustments for the impact of COVID-19.

We recognize the business and economic landscape will be altered, which will require adjustments to our future plans. We believe we are in a better position to confront the “new normal” that will result from the impact of the virus by having the results from these projects as a baseline to work with.

We invited all residents and all businesses to complete an Economic Development Survey, which provided the entire community an opportunity to weigh in on a variety of issues that will help shape the future of Old Lyme.

The response was overwhelming and the results of the Survey are contained in the report at this link.  Seven hundred and thirty surveys were completed (we anticipated 150 responses), the largest percentage response of any of the approximate 80 municipalities Advance CT has surveyed.

We conducted two economic Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) workshops designed to obtain feedback from a broad cross-section of town stakeholders, including a variety of businesses, residents, town leaders, nonprofit organizations, and clergy. The SWOT workshops gave additional opportunities for these stakeholders to dive deeper into critical issues.

The Old Lyme Economic Development Study provided valuable data and expert analysis of current economic conditions and recommendations for the future economic development of Old Lyme. It generated professional analysis and recommendations that will aid us in examining business opportunities that are both realistic and are a good fit for Old Lyme.

in carrying out our two EDC goals of both providing support to existing businesses, and attracting new business, while being mindful of maintaining the charm and character of our beautiful town.

Looking to the future, we will be discussing a game plan at our next meeting and the initiatives we have described here, which have already been implemented, will play a vital role as we move forward. In a nutshell, the EDC is now transitioning from gathering information to generating recommendations for a “smart growth” economic development strategy,

Our goal will be to come up with a specific recommendations for economic development keeping in mind our two EDC  goals of supporting existing business and attracting new businesses while being mindful of maintaining the charm and character of our beautiful town.

We will recommend that we include a vision statement that includes defining  both “the character” of Old Lyme and our sense of community.

We encourage you to review the results of all three reports. We welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions. Please feel free to email us at edc@oldlyme-ct.gov. We look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks again for your participation and interest in the future of the Old Lyme, a town we all treasure.

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