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Our mission is to be the catalyst that ignites Connecticut's Main Streets as the cornerstone of thriving communities.
Showing Love for Main Street 
Valentine's Day may be over, but our love for Connecticut's downtowns remains! Read on to learn more about how we're promoting our main streets, encouraging sustainability and working to educate others on how we can create vibrant, prosperous social centers. 

CMSC Celebrates First Advocacy Day with  John Dankosky, Legislators
About fifty people joined CMSC at the Capitol on Tuesday for an inspiring day celebrating the economic and social importance of Connecticut's downtowns. 

John Dankosky, the popular host of NPR's NEXT and formerly Where We Live, spoke to the crowd about his personal passion for main streets and downtowns. He advocated for the notion of "positive proximity" espoused by Dar Williams in her recent book, "What I Found in a Thousand Towns," and how our social centers enable us interact with each other and work toward the common good. He noted that downtowns like Littleton, NH have an appeal that captures the hearts of visitors with their charm and uniqueness. (We were equally enticed by Littleton and wrote a blog about it for our July 2014 newsletter.)

Several legislators also took to the podium to share how they've been influenced by Connecticut's downtowns. State Senators Bob Duff and Mae Flexer, and Representative Roland Lemar talked about how our downtowns are vitally important and full of untapped potential. They noted that whether they bring us together with local parades and festivals or inspire us with innovative new businesses, there is a lot of positive activity happening on our main streets. Each of the legislators congratulated and recognized the work of those in the main street network who are helping to revitalize our downtowns. They encouraged attendees to continue their efforts, share the many wonderful activities taking place, and to continue to advocate for needed changes to improve our communities.
Concluding the event was Pete Smith from Rome, Smith & Lutz Government Relations. A former legislator himself, he offered tips for communicating with your representatives. Among his advice, he suggested:
  • Making your appeal personal (and therefore relatable);
  • Testifying on legislation, then taking that testimony and turning it into an Op-Ed for your local paper; and
  • Constantly communicating with your legislators. This doesn't have to be a series of constant appeals, but could be something as simple as wishing them good luck on the session or telling them about good things going on in your community.
Learn more about CMSC's 2018 Advocacy Priorities, including doubling the Historic Tax Credit cap that provides critical financing for historic preservation. 
Greenworks Lending and CMSC Announce Partnership to Enhance Sustainability Statewide
CMSC and Greenworks Lending announced this week they are entering a partnership introducing m
unicipalities and businesses in CMSC's statewide member network to Greenworks Lending and the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program, also known as C-PACE. C-PACE is a public-private financing program, where energy upgrades for commercial properties are repaid through the property tax over the useful life of the upgrades (often 20+ years). Cash flow remains positive, as energy savings typically cover the cost of repayment.
Greenworks Lending is the State's leading C-PACE lender, providing 100% financing for energy saving capital improvements made by commercial properties. Nearly all commercial buildings are eligible for the program. Greenworks Lending funds 100% of the hard and soft costs of commercial building upgrades and new construction elements that improve energy performance via C-PACE.
Click here to read the full press release, and here to learn more about how Greenworks Lending can help finance upgrades to your commercial building.
Re-Mains of the Day
February iForum Discusses Benefits of Transit Oriented Development  -  TOD has many benefits, including filling a need for strategically-located affordable housing, increased property tax revenues and creating market demand in mixed-use and commercial areas. It also benefits the environment as more people walk instead of taking cars, and densely built development near the transit preserves open space. The latest iForum from the Partnership for Strong Communities will explore how natural allies - advocates for affordable housing, mass transit, energy conservation and environmental protection - can work together to focus on smart growth planning in conjunction with environmental quality and justice.  The iForum takes place on February 27th at The Lyceum in Hartford. Click here for more info, and here to register.

Save the Date for March BRIDGE Event 
  Exodus of young people. Retail apocalypse.   We hear phrases like this all the time, but are they real? How can we tell? Save the date for our  next   BRIDGE Series on March 23rd  when Rachel Leventhal-Weiner from the CT Data Collaborative teaches CMSC members how to expand their data literacy, critically assess data we encounter every day and collect useful information that will help create a compelling case for Main Street.

▪  2018
BikeWalk Summit - Join BikeWalk CT for their 2018 Summit on April 6th as they bring together people from all over Connecticut to improve bicycling and walking in our state. You'll learn from a range of planning experts, hear the latest biking and walking updates from around the state and get guidance on implementing Complete Streets policies in your community. Click to register. 

Nominate an Arts Hero! 
The CT Office of the Arts is seeking nominations for its Arts Hero Awards honoring Connecticut residents who are doing extraordinary things in, for or through the arts. The 2018 Arts Hero Awards theme is RESILIENCY! 
Simply complete the nomination form by Friday, March 23, 2018. 
The 2018 Arts Hero Awards will be presented on Wednesday, April 25th as part of Connecticut Arts Day 2018. 
Public Finance Alert: Municipal Opportunity Zones
by Michael J. Andreana and Erick A. Russell

The below article was written by CMSC Board Member Michael Andreana, an attorney at Pullman & Comley LLC, and his colleague Erick Russell.
Michael J. Andreana
in the recently enacted federal tax reform legislation is the Investing in Opportunity Act (the "Act") which establishes the Opportunity Zones Program (the "Program"). The Program aims to spur private investment in disadvantaged communities across the country by establishing Opportunity Zones in low-income urban and rural communities and providing incentives for private investors to invest their unrealized capital gains in exchange for a temporary tax deferral and other benefits tied to long-term holdings.
O pportunity Zone Eligibility
Opportunity Zones are determined on a census tract basis. The Program uses the New Market 
Erick A. Russell
Tax Credit definition of a "low-income community census tract" as the basis for determining eligibility for Opportunity Zone designation. A "low-income community census tract" is a census tract with either (i) an individual poverty rate of at least 20%, or (ii) a median family income of no more than 80% of the area median.  In Connecticut, more than 1/3 of all census tracts qualify as low-income communities.  Governors will be able to designate up to 25% of the total number of "low-income community census tracts" in a state as Opportunity Zones.
Opportunity Zone Deadlines
The deadline for Opportunity Zone designation is approaching fast; Governor Malloy has until March 22, 2018 to make nominations to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury for Opportunity Zones to be designated in Connecticut. The Treasury must approve or provide feedback within 30 days of the Governor's submission. Once approved by the Treasury, Opportunity Zone designations will remain in place for a period of 10 years.
Municipalities and developers interested in requesting that the Governor nominate certain low-income community census tracts to be designated Opportunity Zones should request such nominations as soon as possible.
For more information, please contact: Michael J. Andreana  or Erick A. Russell   

Connecticut Main Street Center

The Sponsors of our 
Main Street Forums for the 21st Century

And our Partner Organizations:
CT Chapter, American Planning Association
Institute for Sustainable Energy
CT Economic Development  Association
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
CT Economic Resource Center
Main Street America
CT Preservation Action
Partnership for Strong Communities
CT Urban Legal Initiative 
Pro Bono Partnership
Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County 
Young Energetic Solutions