John Devine: Economics commission wants 'business-friendly' town

Easing the climate for business growth in town and capitalizing on Ridgefield’s attractions as an arts and cultural destination are goals John Devine articulated as he was reappointed to the Economic and Community Development Commission by the selectmen Feb. 8.

“The arts are a real asset, and the village,” Devine told the selectmen.

In terms of making the town more business-friendly, Devine said that to learn of the pitfalls, he’d gone through the “permit process” with a small business owner who was expanding her store.

“It took me 16 different trips to different offices in town,” he said.

A goal of the economic commission is to make most of those efforts steps that people can do online.

“We’re going to make it all electronic, to the extent possible, with everything but the hearings,” he said.

The commission is also trying to host a centralized listing of commercial space available in town.

“Any landlord or commercial broker can list commercial property on the website for free,” he said.

The Economic and Community Development Commission would continue the efforts it had advanced in 2016:

  • Marketing the town.
  • Making the town more “business friendly.”
  • Education for small business owners.

Devine told the selectmen that Ridgefield had a lot going for it economically with all the cultural and arts activity.

He cited research by the National Council on the Arts asserting that “more people participate in the arts in a year than if you take attendance at every sporting event and every theme park combined.”

“We’ve made a lot of progress. We have a great town,” Devine said.

The selectmen voted 5-0 to reappoint him.

“It’s an important commission, and we thank you,” said Selectman Bob Hebert.