Kupchick issues proposals for ‘healthy local economy’
FAIRFIELD — Brenda Kupchick and Tom Flynn, Republican candidates for First Selectwoman and Selectman, detailed “a new vision to grow a healthy local economy, through several modernization efforts and initiatives across town agencies with the common goal of making Fairfield work for everyone.”
Kupchick and Flynn’s economic plan calls for reigniting abandoned development projects, reorganizing the Office of Community and Business Development to be more efficient, effective and visible for Fairfield, creating a streamlined permitting process, and fostering proactive relationships with the business community and local universities.
“Whether it’s a local pizza shop, a small boutique or a large corporation, local businesses and the people they employ are the back-bone of our community,” said Kupchick. “One theme I’ve heard over and over again while talking to residents and businesses alike is a need for a stronger relationship with the First Selectman’s Office and a more service-oriented approach to growing a healthy local economy that works for everyone.
“As business owners, my husband and I know the daily challenges that people face when they own their own store, service or company and I want to be a community partner in their success and providing a climate where every business can thrive,” Kupchick said. “A one-size-fits-all approach has lead to anemic economic growth with residents of Fairfield paying over 90 percent of the tax burden. This is why our town needs new leadership and a new approach to achieve a healthy, strong, economy.
“Our economic plan will create a better future for businesses and residents without jeopardizing the small-town New England charm that makes Fairfield a special and appealing place to live,” said Flynn, who has had a 29 year career in business including serving as a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for several companies. Currently, Flynn is a Senior Director with Alvarez and Marsal, an international management consulting firm, and guides mid-sized companies with various operating and financial strategic initiatives.
“Fairfield is home to great businesses, both small and large, that create jobs and put money back into the community,” Flynn said. “We must retain these businesses, restaurants, shops and stores, help them grow, and strengthen our relationships with business owners. We will streamline the regulatory and administrative processes to propel business investment and commercial development. Too often, government is an impediment to growth by being bureaucratic and inefficient.
“We need to be more aggressive in marketing Fairfield and actively seek new businesses to call Fairfield home. We cannot rely on the State of Connecticut to help us. The town’s current reactive approach must change to be proactive, pro-growth and we will “need the right priorities, the right resources and the right policies to take advantage of opportunities.
“We will invest in the Economic Development Department to make it more visible to Fairfield’s current businesses and attract new businesses. Currently, this department is understaffed, underfunded and lacking the executive level support, strategy and leadership to grow our tax base.
“With cost-saving measures and streamlining other departments, we will put money into our community by building out a team of experts whose mission is our vision to ‘Make Fairfield Work for You!’ — cutting red tape, leveraging technology and consulting the business community to implement creative solutions that are responsive to the unique character of our neighborhoods.
“Properties are too valuable to sit vacant or abandoned for many years, waiting for a convenient election cycle for re-development. The Kupchick team will work with developers to get stalled projects moving again, including:
“It’s been over ten years and $22 million of tax dollars spent on the Fairfield Metro Center and Fairfield has not reaped any return on this investment. The Tetreau administration has failed to move this project forward and it’s now time to let someone else lead this project.
“This land and development are critical to Fairfield’s future and success. The property abuts the Mill River, a key resource in Fairfield and we need to work in concert with developers to ensure the land is developed in character with the town while boosting our grand list.
Create a Roadmap for Smart, Balanced Development
“Consistent with the Strategic Plan that is currently under development and that we are anxious to complete and fund as a guide for Fairfield for the next 10 to 20 years, the Kupchick team will support development of a revised Town Master Plan that encourages ‘smart development’ of our commercial areas. Our future must call for maximizing our economic diversity, leveraging the town’s many assets, while maintaining the quality, character and property values of our individual neighborhoods. We must fight against the urge to ‘overbuild’.
Make the Permit Process User-Friendly
“Developers, contractors, and homeowners spend way too long in lines trying to navigate the permit process. We will implement a user-friendly system by streamlining internal processes and moving to an online permitting system, which will eliminate bureaucratic red tape for businesses and investors.
Partnering with Sacred Heart University & Fairfield University
“The economic impact of our two local universities is upwards of $2 billion. We need to strengthen the roots of these relationships, utilize their expertise in a variety of disciplines and integrate student life further into the town. We need to leverage the thousands of potential customers, talent and employees for local businesses via town shuttles, internships and volunteer programs with businesses and organizations.
End Parking Congestion
“Traffic and parking snarls can no longer hurt Fairfield’s economic vitality and quality of life. Access to parking is vital for our local businesses as well as the residents and visitors coming to town each and every day. The areas in greatest need are the Downtown area and the Black Rock Turnpike. Our focus will be to safely support volume, both vehicle and pedestrian, to create new opportunities for businesses to grow and people to easily dine, shop and visit. We will support the completion of traffic and parking studies as well as implementation of approved plans through appropriate funding and legislative support to ease congestion and improve safety for businesses and citizens.
Advocate for More Business-Friendly Policies
“Establish a Town of Fairfield Business Council to meet with the First Selectwoman and provide insights into day-to-day issues facing local businesses and collaborate on public/private solutions.
Given the lapses in judgment and leadership under the current administration, we must re-examine the Town of Fairfield’s bid process and make sure it is not only transparent but open/fair for local businesses providing services that the Town needs and require transparency with developers doing business with the Town.
Work with State legislators and strongly advocate for more business-friendly policies that will allow Fairfield to attract businesses and investments, i.e. reduced fees, less red tape and fees, smart and economic incentives.”