A Sad Farewell, A Look To The Future
To the reported 140 employees who will have to reconsider their employment opportunities following the recent announcement by Hubbell that it will be closing its local high tech facility over the course of six months, that news is more than the “kick in the gut” expressed by Newtown’s legislators. It is a breathtaking, painful transition. There can be no real solace in Hubbell’s intentions of assistance, nor is the fact that the closure is due to redundancy in plants far from Newtown any genuine comfort. Change is harsh when it involves livelihoods.
Almost as sad is that a business with such a long history in Connecticut is leaving the state. It is hard to compete when the numbers tell a business that the wise decision is one that cannot include simple loyalty to an area. Hubbell has called Connecticut home for nearly as long as The Newtown Bee has been turning out papers and has made a home in Newtown for more than 50 years. There is a certain ache to seeing a “peer” slip away from our borders.
While it is easy to blame the state government for creating a toxic and uninviting atmosphere for small and medium businesses, it should be pointed out that Newtown’s economic development team has been helping businesses buck that trend, despite the withdrawal of the Hubbell plant.
New businesses reflect a different economy than that of agriculture and manufacturing that was once a stronghold in our town; The Gift Box, Basil Rose Boutique, Sabrina’s Style, Stor It For Less, Bounty Hunters Custom Baits, Educational Playcare, brew pubs, new bakeries, and restaurants are just a few small/medium companies that have added to the diversity of amenities in town already provided by longstanding businesses. These businesses have created over 100 job opportunities. Owner-operated businesses create a unified environment — and generate tax dollars for the town.
Retail jobs, of course, cannot compete with jobs such as those lost at a business like Hubbell. Small businesses are a boon to Newtown, but economic development must also attract and retain innovative businesses that support workers able to live — and spend — in the community.
How Newtown creates that environment is vital to business community growth in the coming years. Attractive business tax packages, a quality education system, affordable housing, and improved transportation are all areas to be addressed if we are to avoid a trend of people and businesses heading to better opportunities afar.
The support of municipal and education budgets is a step in that direction; wooing progressive businesses — and the people who work for those companies — that will be the new agriculture and manufacturing foundation beneath our town is a task town officials need to continue to pursue aggressively, while supporting the small and medium businesses that fuel the spirit of Newtown.
We are rooting for businesses to fill the spaces created in new developments and in emptied facilities, filling our buildings, homes — and town coffers — and allowing us to move forward to a healthy future.