The Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce held its annual Leaders Luncheon Friday. During the meeting, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton gave his State of the City Address. He highlighted some development happened in the City and also introduced some new initiatives. He pointed out that Danbury has a 3.9 percent unemployment rate, the lowest of any city in the state. Over three dozen small and medium size businesses opened in Danbury in 2015.
When it comes to development in Danbury, Boughton noted that the old GE building is being renovated by Praxair as their new headquarters, and nearby a new 114-room hotel is being developed. An industrial space on Prindle Lane on Danbury's westside is being developed into an entertainment center and mail processing facility.
Boughton announced today that the City has been selected to host a Technology Center. He says it's a $200 million investment in Danbury. The Lotus Technology Center will consist of two data storage facilities, a fuel cell research facility and a small clean natural gas plant which will generate 200 megawatts of power that will power over a million homes in the Greater Danbury area. The natural gas power generation facility that will operate about 25 days a year to help with peak load demands in the Greater Danbury area.
A fulltime Main Street Enforcement Officer has been hired for the Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team. The UNIT focused on quality of life issues in Danbury. This Spring, Boughton says the Danbury Police foot patrol on Main Street will be reinstated on a permanent basis to provide a stronger security presence.
One initiative proposed by Boughton on Friday is called Clean Start. It is aimed at helping the homeless. He notes that some people are already at work collecting cans and scrap metal for recycling, so he wants them to perform various projects around the City including litter control. The chronically homeless will work with a local nonprofit using specialized equipment donated by Winters Brothers. At the end of each day they will be given a gift card. The homeless will also be put in touch with support services to help them get on their feet.
Another initiative proposed by Boughton has been dubbed Lean and Green. Danbury will explore alternate energy source. He wants the City and the Schools to work together to explore solar power, natural gas a fuel cell technology in an effort to reduce emissions and cut costs.
Boughton says that talks are continuing to bring free WiFi to the Main Street corridor. A vendor has been selected, and the project is on track to begin in March. He is also proposing a public-private partnership with Frontier Communication known as Connect Hat City. He wants to offer every household in Danbury $15 a month high speed fiber optic internet, without bundling in other services. Boughton says the digital divide is real, and with this low cost option more people will have access to the internet. He says that will help to close the achievement gap for Danbury students.
A Main Street Restoration Fund has also been proposed. Boughton wants to set this up to provide low interest loans for storefronts in the Main Street area to be able to leverage that money for improvements.