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The recent opening of the Quinnipiac Medical School at the old Anthem site has positioned the town well to welcome more new business to North Haven, according to consultants and town leaders speaking before a couple hundred business, town, and state leaders at the town's Economic Development Breakfast on Sept. 26 at the Holiday Inn on Washington Avenue.
The mood was definitely upbeat.
Speaker after speaker voiced optimistic words about the business growth potential of the Washington Avenue corridor. Those same speakers all said that Quinnipiac University's expansion into the Washington Avenue corridor was the reason for the good feelings.
Alissa DeJonge of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center and co-author of the Upper Washington Avenue Market Study told the crowed that the influx of Quinnipiac staff and students "will have very positive effects on the area."
She said North Haven, before Quinnipiac's expansion, was already positioned better than most other towns in the state and the nation to attract new business, "and this just makes the potential even more exciting."
While the medical school at Quinnipiac only opened its doors a few weeks ago, the eventual plan is to have Quinnipiac medical, nursing, and law schools at the old Anthem site.
"The demographics [of the area] will look quite different when Quinnipiac gets up to full population," DeJonge said, adding that young professionals will have discretionary income to spend in a number of ways.
She read to the group a litany of businesses that ought to prosper in coming years in the Washington Avenue area, namely: auto dealers; beer, wine, and liquor stores; electronics and appliance stores; gas stations; grocery stores; and health and personal care stores.
She added that bigger retail stores may also be attracted to the corridor, such as home furnishing stores; jewelry; luggage, and leather goods stores; special food stores; and food services and hotels and/or motels.
DeJonge wasn't the only speaker giving a glowing assessment of future development potential for Washington Avenue.
Richard LoPresti, chairman of the Economic Development Commission, said the Washington Avenue business report "is a document that North Haven officials, zoners, and economic development people can use going forward" to plot out a successful business future for the town.
"This is really a great opportunity for North Haven," said LoPresti. "We can use this vision to really help promote it"
Robin Wilson, retiring president of the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce, also had good things to say about North Haven's business future.
"We've had nothing but constant growth in North Haven," she said. "Even in tough economic times, North Haven has still had businesses open, good schools, and low tax rates."
Wilson said the town "is fortunate to have Mike Freda as first selectman, because he's a businessman first," and that's good for taxpayers and homeowners.