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    Project Storefronts kicks off its second year

    (7/7/2011) New Haven: July 7, 2011 - After the resounding success of its pilot program last year, the New Haven Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is launching the second phase of PROJECT STOREFRONTS. Conceived as a way to energize some of New Haven’s less active commercial areas while enhancing the city’s standing as the Creative Capital of Connecticut, Project Storefronts works with “creative entrepreneurs” who have innovative business ideas to transform vacant storefronts into places that attract shoppers and potential tenants while increasing area foot traffic.


    Project Storefronts negotiates with property owners for 90 day access to empty retail spaces. These spaces are then provided via a competitive application process to budding entrepreneurs, allowing them the opportunity to test the viability of new, innovative business and retail initiatives while also educating them about what it takes to be a successful businessperson.

    Last year under the Pilot Program, four businesses tested their ideas at 71 Orange Street in downtown New Haven’s Ninth Square. These businesses succeeded in enlivening what had been a series of seven dark, empty retail spaces, transforming the street into a lively, well-lit destination both day and night. In December 2010, Project Storefronts was recognized as an important addition to the city’s creative economy, receiving a prestigious annual Arts Award from the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.

    In April, 2011 as the Pilot Program was coming to an end, Project Storefronts celebrated another important success when one of their enterprising businesses, The Grove -- a co-working office space for independent consultants and entrepreneurs -- signed a long term lease with The Related Companies for permanent use of the space. During its Pilot Program, Project Storefronts received national media attention for its innovative approach to addressing entrepreneurship and the arts while helping to fill empty retail spaces. Recently, the project received the first ever Creative Economy Award from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA), one of only two initiatives to receive this honor out of thirty-two contenders.

    “New Haven is a leader in Connecticut and New England in its support of cultural institutions, individual artists, the creative industries and creative entrepreneurs which we see as among the most important keys to economic development in our city” stated Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. Kelly Murphy, the City’s Economic Development Administrator agrees. “A strong creative sector translates directly to a strong economy. In New Haven the creative industry employs 5600 people or 7.3% of our workforce in more than 440 firms. It also strengthens traditional economic sectors, creating new jobs in the technical, service and management areas while supporting a strong and vibrant downtown, attracting visitors, residents, new businesses and investment”


    The success of the Pilot Program has allowed Project Storefronts to garner renewed financial support and start its next phase, continuing its presence in downtown’s Ninth Square. “The Department of Cultural Affairs is excited to open more trial businesses at our newest locations at 89 Church, 55 Church and 100 Crown Streets, in partnership with dedicated property owners John Wareck Real Estate LLC, 100 Crown LLC, the Rose Companies and The Hurley Group” stated Barbara Lamb, New Haven’s Director of Cultural Affairs. “These partnerships are the key to the success of Project Storefronts.” Applications for new businesses are being sought and reviewed.

    Weekly “percolator” sessions occur each Tues and Thurs from 3-7pm. Interested applicants may contact Margaret Bodell at 203-727-7280 or mmbodell@gmail.com for further information. Collaborating landlords love the way that Project Storefronts spruces up their spaces and attracts long-term tenants.

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