Lt. Gov. pays a visit to Sparkly Soul
WESTPORT — Community engagement, small businesses and civic organizations were some of the items Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz highlighted during her brief stop in Westport on Monday.
“There are so many extremley committed people, men and women, who do so much in this community and surrounding area,” she said. “I love coming to Westport because people are so engaged in the community.”
Bysiewicz has been traveling around the state meeting business owners and elected officials to hear directly from them what is needed.
Westporter Sal Liccione brought Bysiewicz to Sparkly Soul, one of the new businesses in town, with First Selectman Jim Marpe,Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Matthew Mendel, and Representative Town Meeting member Kristan Hamlin also in attendance.
Dari Herman, owner of Sparkly Soul, gave a tour before discussing challenges she faces as a business owner, saying grants could help business growth and economic development.
“We need the state and local government to bet on us,” Herman said, adding business growth could bring more full-time jobs to the state.
Herman said many companies are going online, but her decision to keep a store was an investment in her community.
“This is a loss for me to be here, but it’s an important loss because we need to invest in our future,” she said. “I want to invest in a town I live in, and a state I live in.”
Bysiewicz said feedback has helped her and the governor in making decisions to help local businesses. Conversations with owners, for example, led to a decision to get rid of the business entity tax of $250 per year, she said.
“We heard from businesses it wasn’t business friendly and it didn’t send a good message to small business owners,” Bysiewicz said.
Through dialogue they are able to understand the challenges faced by business owners and provide them with state programs that can be helpful, she continued. One such initiative being small business express program, which provides small business owners with state funding.
Jimmy Tickey, senior advisor for economic and community development for Bysiewicz, said they make it a point to talk to community leaders and highlight local businesses while touring the state.
“Small businesses are the ones that hire locally. They are the back bone of our local economy,” he said. “We have so many vibrant downtowns and small businesses. We need to be doing more to highlight those small businesses and make sure they’re growing in Connecticut.”
Marpe said he appreciated Bysiewicz stopping in town to show support for local businesses, as they are a key part of Westport. Sparkly Soul was also a great representative of the town, he said.
“It’s businesses like this that really are at the heart of what Westport retail and other kinds of businesses can be and have been in the past,” Marpe said.
As part of her visit Bysiewicz also met with ReSisters, a political action group of mostly women, to discuss a variety of topics including the state’s infrastructure and tolls.