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    Friday, June 14, 2024

    Groton invites public to help solve ‘development puzzle’ at Thursday forum

    Groton ― The town is inviting people to discuss and learn more about the economic development challenges and opportunities it faces at a forum Thursday.

    The forum, titled “Solving the Development Puzzle: Bringing Vitality Back to Groton,” will be held Thursday at the former Benny’s at 60 Plaza Court.

    The event, organized by the Town of Groton Economic Development department, will start with an open house at 5 p.m followed by a 6 p.m. presentation with a question and answer session. Pizza will be served to those who are attending.

    Economic and Community Development Manager Paige Bronk said the town held a similar presentation last year on retail and is focusing this year on “solving the development puzzle.”

    Bronk said that includes a discussion of nationwide challenges ― including inflation, cost, labor issues and regulatory barriers ― as well as what people are noticing at the business level, such as the impact on retailers like Bed, Bath & Beyond. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the economic landscape.

    Bronk said consultant Casey Kidd, founder and CEO of NaviRetail, who gave last year’s retail presentation, will discuss these issues and what Groton “can do to best position ourselves for the type of economic growth people are requesting.”

    Bronk said a survey a few years ago showed residents want businesses, such as Trader Joe’s, Sonic and family entertainment venues.

    Bronk said the formula to attract those private businesses includes population growth. He said town staff members frequently talk about trying to convert some commuters into residents, which means they’ll need housing.

    “I think we’re trying to demonstrate to people what’s required to attract the right investment, and, at the same time, we want to gather people together and have them network and discuss it amongst themselves and raise their own questions as well,” he said.

    Bronk said the town is trying to draw a diverse crowd to the event so people can talk about some of the challenges the town is facing and how best to overcome them.

    The forum will include a discussion on the “pros and cons of commercial redevelopment” and “barriers to successful projects,” according to an event flyer.

    Bronk said holding the event at the former Benny’s is an opportunity to showcase an example of one of the town’s redevelopment opportunities and prompt a discussion on how properties can be redeveloped.

    He said there are redevelopment opportunities in vacant, underutilized properties townwide, from vacant commercial sites to some former school buildings.

    Residents looking for more information or to RSVP can visit: https://www.greatergroton.com/redev.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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