Thursday, May 13, 2021

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State of The Town Shared at North Branford Business Breakfast

At the Economic Development Commission's third annual North Branford business breakfast on Jan. 22, the news shared with local business owners and representatives pointed to a reinvigorated, revitalized economic community that's poised for some diversified growth and has the benefit of a fiscally responsibile town government. The discussion also showed North Branford continues to have a strong foundation of bedrock businesses and is working to support development of new and innovative enterprises that are a good fit for the town.

In discussing the State of the Town, North Branford Town Manager Mike Paulhus told the audience of over 40 attendees that the Town of North Branford is in good fiscal shape.

"I think that the fiscal stability and the work that the Town Council's done will continue to be validated, in terms of its fiscal management. That's great news," said Paulhus. "We're on a good solid foundation fiscally. We're always striving to be better, but it's an indicator that we're well-run, well-managed and have fiscal policies in place to deal with the rough seas of state funding and other challenges."

Some built-in challenges for North Branford continue to lack of some standard attractions neighboring towns can offer businesses, such as shoreline access, a Route 1 thoroughfare, or direct access off exits along Interstate 95. North Branford also faces a unique development hurdle in that about one-third of the land here is owned by Regional Water Authority (RWA) and not available for development, although RWA partners with the town to create opportunities for passive recreation and more of that type of partnering in the future could be a plus, said Paulhus.

North Branford is home to several large commerical businesses which help drive the local economy and bring people to town. They include Tilcon Connecticut Inc., Honeywell Life Safety, Evergreen Woods and Big Y Supermarket. Additional economic drivers include the unique assets provided by the Northford Ice Pavillion and Connecticut Sportsplex, "...and it's also everything in-between," said Paulhus, of many different types of businesses here, from smart-technology innovator Penn Globe, located at the tip of the North Branford-East Haven border, to  family-owned and operated Rosabianca Vineyards, home of the town's first vineyard and winery, located in Northford.

Dick Bauer, vice president of Global Sales of Notifier Fire Systems at Honeywell, was the breakfast's keynote speaker on Jan. 22. The local facility for the global safety equipment supplier is located at 12 Clinton Road.

"He discussed the strength and the brand of Honeywell, and how much commerce they're doing right  there in Northford," said Paulhus. "This plant is one of their most profitable plants. It is a well-performing asset for Honeywell."

As Bauer shared, "...this is a solid location that ships to some 50 companies on a daily basis. They're a global company, and the brands that they have involves a lot of product moving out of it. They're a good, solid performer for the Honeywell group," said Paulhus.

Paulhus said North Branford's town government will continue its work to help to support economic development here. One move was the Town Council's approval of the assessment deferral program a few years back, which helps to set North Branford apart from other communities, said Paulhus.

"It can be used as a tool to attract [businesses], but we're also looking at it as retention and expansion," for businesses looking to expand their existing North Branford properties through a significant investment, Paulhus explained, adding, "...we've already effectively used it three times. So this is a great tool to help push the deal forward."

Paulhus said another significant steps the Town Council has recently taken was 2017's funding to hire the Town's first Economic Coordinator, which brought in a seasoned professional, Roger Salway.

"Roger was a great find. He's full of energy, he communicates well and he connects with people. He's an engineer, he understands business and he's been all over the world. He's got a really good concept and really good vision of what we need and what we can do. He is helping put us on the map," said Paulhus.

Salway helped to organize the free Jan. 22 business breakfast at Town Hall. Paulhus noted Salway has been instrumental in coordinating diversified economic development efforts, from working to attract manufacturing that's a good fit for the area to developing a new, townwide sunflower "branding" program that's in the works. Salway is also continuing efforts to grow North Branford's agricultural base into business and tourism opportunities. Just two such outstanding recent examples are the Town's support of the development of Rose Orchard's vineyard and winery facility (currently under construction on Route 139) and recent Town approval of North Branford's first farm brewery, Stewards of the Land Farm Brewery, currently under construction on Forest Road. Both properties are owned by families which have operated farming enterprises in North Branford for generations.

With regard to development, Paulhus said another "...bright spot for 2019" is a proposed medical center, Connecticut Center for Health and Wellness, at 28 Branford Road (Route 139, across from Valley Road at the North Branford/Branford town line). Permit plans were submitted to the zoning department on January 8. The proposed two-story complex would offer over 45,500 square feet of business space. The new project is currently on track to be introduced as part of the agenda at the Planning and Zoning Commission's Feb. 7 meeting, said Town Planner Carey Duques.

"We're excited about the potential for that, and the jobs that would come with it, and the activity of bringing people in," said Paulhus. "So we're building on successes, with Roger as a catalyst; and we have these things in the pipeline to help grow the Grand List. We'll continue to look at how we draw people in."



Pam Johnson covers news for Branford and North Branford for Zip06. Email Pam at

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