Bysiewicz tours Milford's 'very vibrant' business community

MILFORD — Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz got a lesson in small business development Tuesday — and her hope is to take what she learned to the rest of the state.

“We wanted to come to Milford because, according to the census, this was a place — and Norwalk — that was attracting younger people, and I can see why,” Bysiewicz said. “There are a lot of housing options including around the train, so if you’re working in New York, in Bridgeport or Hartford, it's easy to get there.”

Bysiewicz joined state Sen. James Maroney, state Rep. Frank Smith, Milford alderman Brett Broesder and other local leaders for a tour of small businesses in the Walnut Beach area.

“Milford has had a tidal wave of new business moving to town as well as existing businesses expanding,” said Milford Mayor Ben Blake. “Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz has always been a great friend to Milford and we very much appreciate her support highlighting our community's successes during her small business walking tour.”

The stroll began at the Firehouse Gallery where Bysiewicz was given the history of how the Milford Arts Council got the firehouse.

As the group moved along, local leaders pointed out local businesses in Walnut Beach that have been staples of the community and others that are about to open.

“I have to say the local business community is very vibrant,” Bysiewicz said. “Lots of women business owners, which I love, and I love hearing some of the creative things they have been doing during the pandemic to stay open.”

While on the tour, Bysiewicz went into Scoot & Paddle, a local women-owned business that rents out paddleboards, kayaks, bicycles and scooters for people to explore Milford by land or by sea.

“It was a brief meeting, but it was great that she stopped by. I felt that it was important for her to visit the small businesses,” said Christina Pritchard, owner of Scoot & Paddle. “I know she’s a big supporter of women-owned businesses, which is really great because, especially down here, the majority of the business in the Walnut Beach area are women-owned. It’s probably like 90 percent of them.”

Pritchard said business has been steady this year, but since her business is weather-dependent, it’s been a tricky year. She added that 2020 was the best year she ever had because she was one of the only businesses open during COVID.

“It still was difficult last year because there was a lot more cleaning and sanitizing and leaving lots of space in between to clean everything,” she said.

Overall, Pritchard said it is encouraging to know there is support for women-owned businesses in high levels of government.

“It’s also encouraging to know that she’s accessible,” said Pritchard, of Bysiewicz. “You could probably pick up the phone and schedule a quick talk and ask for recommendations, information and advice of what’s our there to help small women-owned businesses start up.”

Bysiewicz said seeing local small businesses, such as the ones in Milford, thrive and attracting people to the city can be an inspiration for others dreaming of opening their own small business.

“It’s exciting and great for Connecticut's economy,” she added, “and we want to see what lessons we can learn and hopefully help other towns do the same.”