The Chamber in the News
Big Things in Store
City Banking on New Program to Boost Downtown
WATERBURY — Lynn Ward, president and CEO of Waterbury Regional Chamber, and Joseph Violette, chamber director of public policy and economic development, walked by several vacant storefronts on Grand Street Wednesday, hoping a proposed program will soon rejuvenate the area.

Ward and Violette are behind a proposed central business district investment program that looks to help property owners fill vacant ground-floor storefronts within much of the city’s downtown. The program would administer grants of $50 per square foot, with a maximum grant of $100,000 to eligible property owners who are looking to develop or restore new or existing groundfloor retail space.

The Board of Aldermen on Monday will consider approving the program. If approved, the program would receive $1.5 million from the city’s federal $74 million American Rescue Plan allocation.

Streets in the central business district include Bank, South Main, East Main, Grand, West Main, Meadow, Freight, State, Church, Leavenworth, Center and Brook. Roughly 35 of the more than 100 storefronts in the area are vacant, an increase of an unknown number of vacancies pre-COVID, Violette said. To continue reading this story, click here.
This story originally appeared on the front page of the Republican American on July 14, 2022.
Brass Mill Center Builds for Bright Future
By Lynn Ward

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Brass Mill Center & Commons, the 1.1 million-square-foot mall and retail hub that’s been a regional shopping and entertainment destination for multiple generations of visitors and residents in the region. As a significant taxpayer in the City, the mall is a critical partner in keeping our community thriving.

As consumer shopping habits have changes, rumors have inaccurately circulated about the future of the mall. The mall’s new owners, however, are planning on not only making infrastructure improvements, such as upgrades to the HVAC system and giving the parking lot a refresh, but plans are underway for new stores, restaurants, entertainment options, and community events. DeadWood Axe Throwing, for example, will open in September.

“We’re not closing,” said Stacey Mendyka, General Manager for Brass Mill Center and Commons, which is a member of the Waterbury Regional Chamber. “We are definitely not shutting down, nor are we tearing it down and turning it into senior housing. We are focusing on getting some new tenants and new events going to drive traffic to the property.”

Mendyka says that new tenants have already been secured, and they are working to bring in new entertainment and restaurant options. One of the most requested businesses is a coffee kiosk after the closing of Gloria Jean’s Coffees left workers and shoppers eager for a replacement. “That’s definitely on the list,” Mendyka said.

With the new ownership by the Long Island-based Kohan Retail Investment Group, Mendyka says that the company is eager to partner businesses and residents in the region. “We want to be hands on and involved in the community,” she says.
Joe McGrath, Director of Economic Development for the City of Waterbury, says the City is looking forward to working with the new owners.

“When Kohan Retail Investment Group purchased the Brass Mill Center and the Brass Mill Commons, they made a significant investment in our community and assured us their ultimate goal is to revitalize the property,” McGrath said. “Kohan owns 60 additional malls and certainly have the expertise and vision to make that transformation happen. CEO Michael Kohan is very optimistic that the Waterbury Mall will have a bright future and the City is looking forward to working with them to achieve that goal.”

One new feature management is hoping to unveil shortly is a pop-up-style “market” similar to Sunday’s Fourth of July food truck event. Planned to run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on select dates, the market would bring together unique food offers, vendors, and perhaps live music—all taking place outside. Mendyka said the company is continuing to look for other ways to get the community to come together.

“We are looking forward to revitalizing the center,” Mendyka said. “I was born here and I still live here. It’s important to be able to have the mall invigorated and have it as a place where the community can come and shop—we don’t want them going out of the city. We need to give them reasons to come to the mall and the City.”

Currently the Commons, the strip mall-style section that features stores like Chili’s Grill & Bar, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Ulta Beauty, is fully occupied with leased tenants, while the mall is at 89 percent occupancy. Contrary to popular myth, the mall does not own the vacant, former Sears or Macy’s retail spaces, or JC Penny.

Looking for a haircut? Clothes? View a movie? Get your nails done? For these options and more, stay local and check out the Brass Mill Center, a trusted Waterbury Regional Chamber member. For a complete directory, visit:

This column originally ran in the Republican-American on Monday, July 4, 2022. Look for the next Chamber Happenings column in the newspaper on Monday, July 18.
Message From Newsletter Sponsor,
Post University
HR Corner: Time to Revisit Policies and Practices to Prevent Workplace Violence
This HR Corner is brought to you by Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP. Written by Attorney Nick Zaino
One the most important obligations that employers have is to provide a safe workplace and preventing workplace violence is at the top of the list. In fact, according to the federal OSHA, acts of violence are the third-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States.
Sadly, there have been numerous incidents of workplace violence recently that have involved gun violence. These incidents have garnered significant media attention. Regardless of any employer’s personal views on how society should address gun violence, taking steps to prevent any form violence in the workplace—whether involving guns or not—is not debatable. It is not only a moral obligation, but also a legal one as both federal and Connecticut laws require every employer to provide a safe workplace.
Now is a good time for every employer to revisit their workplace policies and practices regarding workplace violence. Below is a checklist of some critical steps that employers should consider:
  • Have a Written Policy: Every employer should have a written policy stating that workplace violence will not be tolerated. The policy should properly define what constitutes the “workplace” (e.g., parking lots, business trips, etc.) and provide diverse examples of violent behavior, including physical and verbal acts of violence (e.g., assault, threats, verbal harassment, etc.). The policy should state prohibit acts of workplace violence from any source including employees, customers/clients, vendors/contractors and visitors. And the policy should encourage employees to report their concerns utilizing a clear process for doing so and with assurance that employees will not be subject to retaliation.
  • Investigate Claims of Violence. Employers must promptly and thoroughly investigate concerns or incidents of workplace violence, and in some cases, contact local authorities.
  • Consider Criminal Background Checks For New Hires. Employers should strongly consider conducting criminal background checks for new hires. In doing so, employers must be mindful that the EEOC discourages employers from being overly aggressive in banning applicants with a criminal history. Instead, the EEOC encourages employers to make an individualized assessment of all the facts and circumstances in making a hiring decision.
  • Ban Weapons in the Workplace. Employers have a right in Connecticut to ban weapons in the workplace.
  • Review Workplace Practices and Physical Security Measures. Consider having an alarm system and specific policies and practices surrounding building access (e.g., electronic badges, tracking visitors and limiting workplace access for non-employees, use of surveillance cameras, communication system for emergencies, and well-lit perimeter and parking areas).
  • Recognize Warning Signs. Be aware of some recognized warning signs (e.g., employees who excessively discuss weapons, appear despondent, and/or expresses anger), but not prejudge someone without an adequate basis.
  • Employee Assistance Provider (EAP). Many employees are under a great deal of stress for a variety of reasons. Referring an employee to an EAP could be helpful in promoting employee mental health and wellness and addressing personal issues that could impact the workplace.
  • Training. Provide training to key managers on the Company’s policy and tips for spotting and addressing incidents of workplace violence. 
  • Terminating a Potentially Volatile Employee. Employers who have a reasonable basis to believe that an employee may become violent should take extra security precautions, such as having a security firm present or putting local authorities on notice. In some cases, it may be prudent to conduct an employee meeting by video or phone.
While these points provide common guidance, each employer must evaluate their specific circumstances in determining the steps they should take to provide a safe workplace. To this end, it may be helpful to establish a committee to provide reasonable recommendations.

If you have questions about what you can do to improve your employee retention, contact a member of Carmody’s Labor and Employment team.

This information is for educational purposes only to provide general information and a general understanding of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any attorney-client relationship.
Welcome New Members:
A warm welcome to our newest members!* We encourage you to connect with them soon and see where your next partnership can be!

*Joined 6/10/22 to 7/13/22
Member Benefit Highlight
Health Care Council - Health Matters Special Supplement Coming September 2022
Are you a member of the Health Care Council? The mission of the Health Care Council is to provide healthcare resources and information to our employers, employees, individuals, and healthcare professionals. The Council also provides networking opportunities, the opportunity to hear directly from leaders from within the industry and works as an advocate to identify issues and establish a healthcare legislative agenda for presentation to the Public Policy Committee of the Waterbury Regional Chamber.

When you are a member of the Health Care Council, your organization will be listed in our Health Matters supplement, which is printed twice a year. The next Health Matters will be published on September 18 and distributed to more than 30,000 households and businesses in the region. The cost to join the Council is $50 per year. For more information, contact Mandy Allen-Fischer, Finance and Member Relations Director at 203-757-0701, Ext. 306.
Upcoming Events & Opportunities
The Waterbury Regional Chamber invites both Chamber members and potential new members to its next Out for Business networking event, taking place on Wednesday, July 20 at Develomark in Plantsville.

The event, which runs from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., gives attendees the opportunity to mingle, network, and enjoy food from Café Bravado and drinks in the historic Clark Brothers factory that’s located in the Plantsville section of Plainville. Attendees will also have the chance to win some door prizes. Also, as part of the event, attendees will have the opportunity to sit down with Develomark’s digital marketing experts for a free, five-minute website audit to gain on-the-spot insight on the design, content, and functionality of your company website.

The Out for Business is sponsored by the event host: Develomark, a full-service design, search, and advertising agency that was founded in 2017. Over the last five years, the company has grown from a one-man operation into a robust team that includes expert graphic designers, content writers, account managers, and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) specialists. The company offers a comprehensive approach to digital marketing to enable local businesses to build their brand and attract customers in their communities. Develomark has helped small and medium-sized businesses across the country hone their digital strategy through website design, SEO, content marketing, and paid advertising. In 2021, the company moved in a newly-renovated, open concept office space in Plantsville. The building also houses The Network Salon and Yoga, Kinsmen Brewing Company, Brooke Team at eXp Realty, and others. For more information about the company, visit:

The cost for members to attend is $25. Potential members are welcome to visit one Out for Business as a guest of the Chamber. Please contact the Chamber to register.
2022 Honorees:
Leadership Award: Joan Doback, Chief Physician Assistant, Bone Health Coordinator, Waterbury Hospital
Unsung Hero Award: Derri Hamilton, RN, MSN, Program Director of Behavioral Health, Saint Mary’s Hospital/Trinity Health of New England
and April Waterman, RN, Head Nurse, ICES, Inc./We Do Life… Together
Award for Organizational Excellence: Naugatuck Valley Surgical Center
Health Advocate Award: Mayor N. Warren (Pete) Hess, Borough of Naugatuck
Business Directory Ad Deadline: Friday, July 15
Watertown-Oakville Chamber News
The Watertown Oakville Chamber recently held a ribbon cutting for Atneciv Rodriguez at Executive Leadership LLC. Atneciv offers a variety of services at her space at 51 Depot Street (Suite 208) in Watertown: business coaching and consulting, business formation, branding, life coaching, co-working space, and more! For more details, visit:
Main Street Waterbury Events
Main Street Waterbury, an affiliate of the Waterbury Regional Chamber, and ACT Jams Productions will present the 2022 Brass City Jazz Fest on Saturday, August 6th from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Grand Street in downtown Waterbury.

The free outdoor event, presented by Main Street Waterbury and ACT Jams Productions, features a host of acclaimed recording artists, including #1 Billboard Charting saxophonist Paul Taylor, world-renowned jazz bassist David Dyson, who will be performing with Unit 3 Deep featuring internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist Lori Williams, #1 Billboard Charting Trumpeter Willie Bradley, and Connecticut’s own national recording jazz flutist Sherry Winston and saxophonist Doug Jones. Other performers include Taylor Sorice, along with the Brass City Jazz Fest Band, which is headed by the event’s musical director and bassist, Steve Clarke.

If you are a business or organization looking to reach a new audience, or a music enthusiast, consider sponsoring the event. To learn more about sponsorship, contact Chris Caulfield at 203-757-0701 or email Chris Caulfield

For more information, visit:, email Al Taylor at, or call Main Street Waterbury at 203-757-0701.  
Hiring & Training Programs Available
Do you need help finding qualified workers for your business? Could you use some financial assistance to offset the cost of hiring and training new workers, or training your existing workforce?

The Waterbury Regional Chamber is working with the Northwest Regional Workforce Investments Board to help businesses in Greater Waterbury learn more about the available hiring and training programs and whether they qualify for them. This includes providing information on posting jobs on the states website, as well as information about Manufacturing Innovation Fund Incumbent Worker Training, the apprenticeship program, hiring veterans and on-the-job training programs.

For more information, visit
WRC logo RGB-web