Business scene improving, says Chamber’s CEO

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER

President and CEO of the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce Michael Nicastro said he is “pleased with the way things are going” regarding economic development.
Right now, he said, business isn’t as busy because of the summer months. People have hit the beach, or are away on vacations, but despite that Nicastro said the hustle and bustle of Bristol’s business community is still going strong.
“We have seen a very marked pick-up in activity,” Nicastro said about the city’s industrial parks.
Last year, the chamber and the Bristol Development Authority decided it would hit the road to meet with site selectors that work with businesses looking to expand or relocate, in an effort to “put Bristol on the map.”
During the summer months, Nicastro said there won’t be any physical meetings since schedules are inconsistent due to members’ time off. However, in the fall, he said meetings will resume.
“We are continuing communication, sending updates to the people we’ve met with,” Nicastro said, adding there are potential clients that are interested in vacant pieces of property in Bristol.
“You have to be pleased with the way things are going, especially since people are being very cautious now and are careful with their capital,” Nicastro said, adding businesses want to make sure they are relocating for the right reasons, can be in operation for a long time, and will make a profit off their investments.
Nicastro said Bristol is appealing to businesses because of the incentives offered to businesses. Just recently, the city was able to secure funding to two long-time city businesses –Harvest Bakery and Century Spring.
Harvest Bakery received a $12,000 grant for improvements to its facility and the addition of two employees.
Century Spring Manufacturing was considering moving from its current location on Middle Street, to Farmington. However, the mayor and Nicastro were able to help the company get an economic development grant. The company received $100,000 for economic development, and up to $6,000 for job creation, which will assist in its move to 100 Wooster Ct.
Nicastro said Bristol is also attractive to manufacturers because of its skilled workforce. Bristol is the home to Bristol Technical Education Center, better known as Bristol TEC, where students go to learn a variety of trades. The skilled workforce has been thinning out over the years, mostly due to retirement, Nicastro said. However, businesses and schools are trying to work together to fill that gap by encouraging education in the trades.
Moving forward, Nicastro said he expects there to be many ribbon cuttings. Just this week, the new Walmart Neighborhood Market opened up, which is expected to bring 95 new jobs to Bristol. Liberty Bank is also opening in August on Farmington Avenue.
Nicastro also said there is a business interested in a large space in the industrial park on Route 229. Just recently the former Clarion Hotel was transformed into a new Hilton DoubleTree.
“Every day, there are new calls, and new inquiries,” Nicastro said, adding, however, it can take a long time for businesses to commit to a location and open up shop.
There are currently two businesses in the Southeast Industrial Park, which is located off of Route 229, and there are 10 spots available. Bristol’s website also lists vacant properties for sale at www.bristolct.gov. The city also has a Request for Proposals for a real estate firm that would assist the Bristol Development Authority, in the marketing and possible sale of commercial properties within the Southeast Bristol Business Park. That RFP closes on July 25 at 1 p.m.