The Wilton Economic Development Commission is hoping to engage town residents in the conversation about where the town is headed. They’re holding an open public forum on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Brubeck Room at the Wilton Library.

As part of the event, the commission is seeking input from residents, starting now. The EDC is asking residents to submit their ideas for things they’d like to see the town consider as part of an overall economic development plan.

“Because they’re the citizens of the town, the business owners and the people that work here, they may have a unique perspective that’s good for us and the town to hear,” explains Dave Clune*, one of the members of the EDC helping to organize the forum.

The commission has set up an online submission webpage, and they’re hoping as many people as possible consider submitting their ideas. Three ideas will be chosen to be discussed at the forum.

“The three best ideas will be selected–best, meaning most unique, most interesting–and then presented for about 7-minutes each, to the group and audience, to spur some conversation around whether the idea would help us, why would it help us, is it something we could move forward with as a town. As a commission, it gives us a chance to see what are the ideas people have and what do people in town seem interested in,” Clune explains.

That doesn’t mean there are necessarily “three winning ideas.” Although three ideas are being chosen for discussion, all the other ideas will be food for thought for the commission. In fact, the more ideas the EDC receives, the better.

“We’re better off getting lots of ideas because it gives us a sense of what people are interested in, what people have thought about and what are ideas we might move forward with. The number ‘three’ for the evening is to put a limit on it and keep the conversation moving and diverse. If we get lots of ideas for hotels, for example, maybe we’ll pick one for the night,” he clarifies.

It’s also something that lets the town’s residents take part in the discussion. The commissioners recognize that the voice of the residents is crucial one to include in the conversation, he says.

“It’s the first step, starting the conversation around what can be done to further economic development in town. The commission itself is relatively new. We developed the town EDC website, and we have some instruction from the BoS, but it’s the first time the commission is going to be able to receive ideas from the public. It’s the first step of hopefully many, of taking the ideas and figuring out what’s viable in Wilton and what will have the most benefit,” Clune says, adding, “and then trying to see if we can move any of the ideas forward.”

The EDC is hoping that as many community members will attend the forum as audience members. The commission is in the process of finalizing panel participants, but as of now it will include members of the EDC; a retail business owner who will represent the Wilton Chamber of Commerce; and Dan Berg, a GOOD Morning Wilton columnist who recently wrote two columns that imagined Wilton 15 years in the future, with much more developed than exists now. (Other people may be added as well.) editor Heather Borden Herve will be the panel moderator.

The EDC was formed in July 2012 to look at and figure out what could be done to increase business revenues within Wilton to further extend the tax base. The commission put together a strategic plan that was submitted to the board of selectmen, and were charged immediately with creating an economic development website for the town. That website launched in July 2015.

To submit an idea, visit the Wilton Economic Development Commission website.

*Dave Clune is currently running for a seat on the board of selectmen, as an unaffiliated candidate.