Fairfield new business starts nearly doubled in 2022

FAIRFIELD – The number of businesses expected to open in Fairfield in 2021 has more than doubled from last year, officials say, showing business and growth going strong.

The town welcomed 75 new brick and mortar businesses, including Isla & Company, Sally’s Epizza, Trek Cycles, Evolution Gaming and Ryoma Coffee World, first selectwoman Brenda Kupchik said in her newsletter.

“Behind the scenes, the collaborative and productive work of our permitting departments assisting businesses throughout the process sends a message that Fairfield welcomes new businesses to our community,” she said. “The success of our local businesses is the success of Fairfield, and as a city, we strive to assist in these efforts as much as possible.”

In a late 2021 newsletter, Kupchik said that more than 40 businesses had opened in the city that year, including Aldi and Floor & Decor, which opened in place of the former Kohl’s.

Mark Barnhart, director of the Fairfield Office of Community and Economic Development, said the city has all of the key criteria a business looks at when deciding where to locate a business, including available skilled labor, transportation infrastructure and quality of life. is included.

“It summarizes what Fairfield has to offer,” he said. “The fundamentals of our local economy are pretty good.”

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A number of large scale developments have been completed in the town over the past year, with more approved or underway.

At a recent Board of Finance meeting, Bernhardt noted that Fairfield has high income demographics, strong financial management and a stable tax rate. Besides all this, he said, the city is not an island and like the rest of the country and the world, is facing some major headwinds.

“Unemployment is at or near record levels, which is a good thing,” he said. “But it’s also a sign of a tight labor market. We talk to a lot of businesses here and elsewhere. Many people are having trouble finding workers, holding on to workers and so on. They also … are dealing with supply chain disruptions. Overall, prices across the board are still much higher than they were a year or two ago.”

The vacancy rate for the offices is trending in a good direction, Barnhart said, adding Fairfield is among the lowest in the region. He added that 2022 bodes really well for the city in terms of construction activity.

“If you drive around town, you’ll see construction going on,” he said. “We have medical office buildings being constructed across from the Hotel Hi-Ho, a new three-story mixed-use building for a law office downtown, the veterinary hospital, Greenfield Hill Animal Hospitalum finally approved. “

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Barnhart said only 4.5 percent of the land in Fairfield is zoned for commercial or industrial use, but said it is highly productive and accounts for more than 12 percent of the grand total.

“It shows that we don’t have a lot, so obviously we have to work with what we have, we have to make efficient, good use of it,” he said.

Kupchik touted the crossing at the Fairfield Metro, which had been stalled for years last fall, as a major victory for development in the city. He said the finished project would feature a hotel, 70,000 square feet of commercial office space, 40,000 square feet of retail space and 357 new housing units, 20 percent of which would qualify as affordable housing.

“This project is expected to generate more than $4 million in net new taxes per year, which will be a huge boost to our community’s tax base and economic growth,” she said.

Barnhart said construction began on one of the residential buildings at that site, the largest piece of land available for development in the city.

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Barnhart said some large multi-family, mixed-use developments make significant contributions to the city’s grand list on a per-acre yield basis. He said the former Exide Battery site was purchased in 2020 for $4.5 million and a developer is working on plans for that location, though he said officials were not impressed with the initial plans.

“We said, ‘You’re not really taking advantage of this site,'” he said. “As per our previous discussion, we do not have many such sites. We have to use them wisely.”

Barnhart said he is always optimistic about where Fairfield is going in terms of economic growth, adding that trends tend to peak and valley. Rising interest rates and materials costs have made him think some of that will slow down, he said.

“I think those who are currently at Hopper will move on,” he said. “I think there is a lot that is bullish about here. It goes back to fundamentals. The underlying fundamentals are very strong for Fairfield. We don’t have some of the issues that other communities in the state do. What we can control is our own land use and permitting process.”

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