NHCOG Observer Corps Report ~ 12.14.17

OBSERVER CORP REPORT
NHCOG Meeting -10am-Noon-12-14-17 @ NHCOG Office-Goshen

Issues and items covered at this meeting included:

Economic Impact of the Arts in the Region

Amy Wynn, Executive Director, Northwest CT Art Council presented the results of a study by the nonprofit “American for the Arts” on the economic impact of the arts in NW CT Region. According to the report “The nonprofit arts and culture sector is a $34.4 million industry in the Northwest Connecticut Region-one that supports 812 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $3.4 million in local and state government revenue.”

Municipal Fiscal Disparities

Torrington has been placed upon the States “Municipal Fiscal Disparities List” as of   2017. Being on the list requires the COG to submit recommendations to the state to address the problems. Among the problems of this city Mayor Carbone mentioned:

            It is too small (under 50,000 population) to get Federal funding for projects

            Maintains  paid police and fire departments, unlike most COG members.

            Has five (5) Elementary schools, one Middle School and High School.

The school system has been designated an “Alliance District” (one of 33 districts in the State with the lowest standardized tests scores) and will be monitored by the State for five (5) years

County Equivalent Status for the COG with U S Census Bureau

In the Federal System of distribution of funds counties and equivalents are eligible applicants. COG’s are not listed as eligible applicants and may not apply for federal grants. The NHCOG ( by voice vote) and other COG’s in the state are now applying for an “Equivalent” status with the U S Census Bureau. When approved the COG as a unit can apply for grants for the region.

COG Economic Development Survey

Jocelyn Ayer, COG Director of Economic Development conducted a live survey. (Each member had a clicker to respond to questions) to see the direction the towns wanted to expand. All but one question received over 50% agreement.

When asked if they supported “Improve transportation options to get workers to jobs and increase awareness of public transit options.” 38% clicked Yes, 38% No , and 25 % not sure.

 Regional Food Hub Status

The new manager of the food hub is Renee Giroux, a Warren resident and a farmer. The hub is working out of a warehouse on Broad Street in Torrington and day to day operations are handled by Renee and Kay Carroll of Partners for  Sustainable Healthy Communities.

The hub did not receive a USDA grant applied for in March 2017(only 14 % of applicants receive these grants). It has received a $40,000 Farm Viability Grant from the state and the COG has committed $25,000 to the first year of operation.

The Hub & COG are seeking approximately $65,000 to cover operations for June 2018-June 2219.

Respectively Submitted
Bernard Harrington

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