NEW BRITAIN - Theyâ€™re a friend to everybody.
Thatâ€™s how Gerry Amodio, executive director of the New Britain Downtown District, describes his organization.
â€śWe work for us, we work for the good of the city, we just do good deeds,â€ť said Amodio, a lifelong New Britain resident, along with his wife.
A Business Improvement District, or BID, is a separate corporation from city government and the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce - which it used to be a part of. The NBDD is a voice for business and property owners in the Downtown District. The district extends as far north as New Brite Plaza on East Main Street, and west to Cedar Street, South to Pearl Street and just East of the Harry Truman overpass.
â€śQuite simply our mission is to make downtown a better place to live, work and play,â€ť Amodio said. â€śThe organization is really a jack-of-all-trades kind of deal.â€ť
That means, connecting businesses with property owners and city officials, and vice-versa, to attract and retain new business to the downtown area, and assist with requests for businesses that have long been around. Businesses range from those with roots in the city such as Amatoâ€™s Toys to newly opened ones such as Mofongo.
â€śWe want our people to be happy downtown, we want visitors to be happy downtown,â€ť Amodio said.
In addition to a range of services from marketing, real estate assistance and government relations, some of the ways the NBDD helps current and new businesses is through street cleaning and a â€śClean and Safeâ€ť faĂ§ade improvement program.
The program provides grants to business in town looking to install or update signs, install security cameras or redo siding. The program works by funding 50 percent of sign and camera projects, up to $3,000, and 25 percent of a siding project - with the discretion to fund more - up to $10,000.
Mofongo, Jimmyâ€™s and Hardware City CafĂ© are recent beneficiaries of this. This is unique to the downtown district.
â€śItâ€™s not much but it helps,â€ť said Amodio.
In addition to helping host events, such as the annual TD Bank Car Show in Central Park in the fall, the district also hosts a small gallery for the Greater New Britain Arts Alliance - which they work closely with, and the visitor center, which houses information about local restaurants, retailers, real estate, education institutions, arts organizations, cultural and civic groups and events taking place.
â€śWe have so much culture here, so much richness here,â€ť Amodio said.
Adding support to all their efforts, the NBDD is part of the International Downtown Association - the â€śmothership for all BIDsâ€ť said Amodio - Connecticut Main Street Center, and International Council of Shopping Center.
â€śWe can do things because we donâ€™t have to go through the bureaucracy,â€ť Amodio said.
The New Britain Downtown District can be reached at 860-229-0878, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or email@example.com.