While the continues to be economic uncertainty, the CNVR economy has recovered — by some measures stronger than the statewide economy. The Central Naugatuck Valley’s industrial real estate market is performing well. The most visible sign of urban renewal is the Brass City Center and Commons. The number of unemployed residents has been declining. Most respondents to the business survey reported plans to modernize and expand. Manufacturing has made a strong comeback and has added jobs to the regional economy and has experienced high relative job growth in recent years.
While the region’s economic and organizational strengths are formidable, challenges remain. Economic disparities continue. Low-income residents remain somewhat disenfranchised from the regional economic successes. The region’s workforce is strong, but some employers have found that workers with basic and higher level skills are lacking. Manufacturers find it difficult to attract highly-skilled production workers, and the existing public transportation system presents problems for residents who depend on it for getting access to training and jobs.
Finally, balancing the need for redeveloping brownfields while making land available for industrial expansions is a challenge.
In addition to these changes, the region has benefited from the work of a number of organizations and institutions. They have made significant contributions to the region’s businesses and business climate including a Community Vision of Waterbury, the Greater Waterbury Chamber of Commerce, the Naugatuck Valley Project, the Naugatuck Valley Development Corporation, the Connecticut Small Business Outreach and Development Center, the Neighborhood Revitalization Zones, the Waterbury Downtown Initiative, and New Opportunities for Waterbury.
With respect to training, there are many institutions that are playing a key role in educating the workforce. These include the manufacturing subcommittee of Visions, Naugatuck Valley Community Technical College, the Waterbury Adult and Continuing Education program, Waterbury's Technology Education Program, Kaynor Technical School, the Naugatuck Valley Project, and the Industrial Management and Training Institute. The State of Connecticut’s Department of Labor and the Institute for Industrial and Engineering Technology have been very active.
Economic development commissions and chambers of commerce in member municipalities and the Alliance for Economic Growth are working on economic development throughout the region.
Strategies and Recommendations
In order to help the region build on and take advantage of strengths, and to help it address challenges, recommendations are offered in four strategic areas.
COGCNV will aggressively promote the concept of regional cooperation within the Central Naugatuck Valley, and with key leaders in the State of Connecticut.
- Maximize the Region’s Core Economic Strength in Manufacturing
- Position the Central Naugatuck Valley as a center of manufacturing precision and vitality
- Increase public support for manufacturing and careers in manufacturing for the region’s residents
- Develop and expand state-of-the-art, high-skills training programs
- Further promote manufacturing modernization
- Create more inter-firm alliances and collaborations
- Maximize Job and Business Growth Opportunities in the Construction and Retail Sectors
- Bolster the informal labor network through hiring “community job brokers”
- Exploit opportunities at the Brass Mill Center and Commons and in retail
- Capitalize on the extraordinary amount of construction activity that will occur in the coming months and years — jobs for residents and business opportunities for local contractors
- Promote a New Regional Vision and Spirit of Cooperation
- Create a regional “job network” comprised of organizations representing the economic interests of low- and moderate-income residents in the region
- Create a regional development agency to help develop cultural projects in Waterbury, redevelop brownfields, expand the Waterbury-Oxford Airport, and projects within the Neighborhood Revitalization Zones
- Develop a More Strategic Approach to Industrial Recruitment
- Create a volunteer, but first-rate, regional industrial marketing and response team to promote the region and to respond to inquiries
- Go beyond the low-cost incentives proposed for the downtown information technology zone when targeting the information technology sector
- Develop marketing materials related to warehousing and distribution and develop specialized training and assistance programs oriented towards the industry
- Promote the region’s reputation for precision manufacturing and develop a regional marketing strategy to attract European firms that are interested in the Central Naugatuck Valley’s rich manufacturing base
Fiscal Impact Analysis
This report, prepared by Planimetrics of Avon for COGCNV, analyzes the fiscal costs and benefits of development. COGCNV received the Outstanding Regional Planning Project Award for 2000 from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association for the report. The report was innovative because it provides a regional perspective in addition to individual municipal reports.
The consultant supplied computer disks, allowing municipalities to keep the information up to date. The report recognized that fiscal impact is only one aspect of land use planning and that residential uses generally have a negative fiscal impact on taxpayers in a municipality because residential users often receive more municipal services than they pay in taxes.