Coronavirus leads Business Council of Fairfield to end regular operations
STAMFORD — In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the state, The Business Council of Fairfield County will start to shut down on Tuesday, the organization’s Board of Directors announced Thursday.
The decision will spell the end of the 50-year-old organization, with all 10 of the membership-based nonprofit’s employees being laid off. Its staff includes CEO and President Erin Flynn, who was appointed to the post in January.
“The significant changes in our local economy, the changing business landscape, and the financial and operational issues recently caused by the COVID-19 virus have dramatically impacted our long-term financial sustainability,” James Fitzgerald, The Business Council’s board chairman, said in a statement. “As a result, and after thoughtful review, we made the difficult but responsible decision to cease ongoing operations.”
In its statement, the board also expressed its appreciation for the diligence and dedication of Flynn and the other staff. The organization’s offices have been based in the Landmark Square complex in downtown Stamford.
“During her short tenure, Erin made great contributions to The Business Council and provided tremendous leadership to our members and business community,” Fitzgerald said. “She was particularly helpful in assessing our strategic alternatives in this unusually stressful time.”
Flynn joined The Business Council after previously serving as the founder and executive director of the Portland, Ore.-based Innovation Quadrant, which connected companies and academic institutions with entrepreneurs and startups.
She succeeded Chris Bruhl, who retired in January after leading the organization for 30 years.
“I’ve been interested in the role that the business community can — and, I believe, should — play in economic growth, as well as social and placemaking strategies in metropolitan regions,” Flynn said in a recent interview. “This has been an area of expertise, as well as a passion for me.”
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The Business Council ranked as one of the most prominent business-development organizations in the tri-state area, with its programming, advocacy and research covering a range of areas including affordable housing, career development, corporate leadership, economic analysis, education, health care, environmental sustainability and transportation.
Its events frequently attracted speakers and attendees such as Connecticut governors, members of Congress, state legislators, CEOs and entrepreneurs.
In 1970, The Business Council was founded. It was formed through the merger of three organizations, the oldest of which traced its roots to 1890.
“The organization has been dedicated to creating a pipeline of business infrastructure to benefit Stamford and Fairfield County, including their internship programs, state lobbying efforts, and awards given through the ‘2030 District,’” said Stamford Mayor David Martin. “It is unfortunate Stamford’s businesses will not have The Business Council’s guidance as we navigate the impact of the coronavirus on our community. I wish the best to the staff at the Council and hope they find new ways to support Fairfield County’s business presence.”
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