Town Seeks to Up Budget Funding & Activity for Economic Development in Wilton

During the presentation of her proposed FY’21 budget at last week’s special Board of Selectmen meeting, First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said she had included increased funding for new initiatives promoting economic development in Wilton.

One of the initiatives includes funding a professional contractor to water the hanging flower baskets in Wilton Center.

“We’ve never paid for it before,” Vanderslice said. In previous years, Parks and Grounds employees handled the task. Earlier in the meeting Parks & Recreation director Steve Pierce had explained that watering the baskets was significantly time-consuming, and that it would be better use of his manpower budget allocation to have his staff put in time elsewhere.

Another initiative in the planning stages is for Wilton to partner with AdvanceCT, formerly known as CERC (CT Economic Resource Center).

“Now they have additional services for free. They will work with the [Wilton] Economic Development Commission (EDC) on developing their priorities. Hopefully that will be embraced by the Commission. The other thing they do is retention and recruiting for communities that don’t have an economic development professional. We are going to take advantage of that too,” Vanderslice said, adding. “We’re thrilled that they’re going to be providing that to us as a community.”

Vanderslice referenced the recent talk given to the Wilton Chamber of Commerce by AdvanceCT’s president and CEO (and Wilton resident) Peter Denious.

Vanderslice has budgeted $35,000 for FY’21, and increase of $15,000 over the adopted FY’20 budget of $20,000. Actual spend in past years has been significantly lower:  $12,666 in FY’17; $3,581 in FY’18; and $2,958 in FY’19.

While the Wilton EDC has not spent its budget in past years, Vanderslice said that the Commission is working on a project that will require funding.

According to EDC minutes available on the Town website, that project is a digital marketing campaign the EDC has named “Wander Wilton,” and is intended to promote places to visit and things to do in Wilton. The campaign will include a website and outreach efforts, with a consumer-friendly focus and leveraging existing content. [Disclosure:  the EDC has approached GMW about content aggregation.]