CEDAS Member Spotlight: Jeanne Davies Executive Director at CT Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc.

 

  1. What does the term economic development meant to you?  It’s a relationship, a marriage of enterprise and citizenry.Economic development promotes a mutually beneficial co-dependent relationship between residents and business/ industry. Optimally, the relationship involves private enterprises who are dedicated to supporting the community through active support and engagement in the day to day health, housing, mobility, income, recreation and employment of the residents. Likewise, residents need to be engaged in long-term planning and government to foster and promote profitable business and industry development who will locate and become members of the community.

  2. What is an average day like for you?  It starts early in the morning with a cup of tea ratcheting up the brainwaves to organize creative approaches to get as much done as possible in the time available to maximize the benefit to residents of Connecticut we serve. We have dozens of community-based projects, farmers, government officials, utility companies, small and agriculture-based businesses as well as other nonprofit partners who require engagement and support throughout the day to get our projects, their projects and programs implemented. 

  3. What is your proudest accomplishment?  Tough one, but in looking back, I’m proud of an early career project as the new, young and not-taken- too-seriously East Lyme Planning and Economic Development Director. My second month on the job, the First Selectman, David Cini asked me to look at a narrow strip of Route 156 next to the Niantic River. He desperately wanted a sidewalk for people to walk along the River to an open area where he wanted to build a park.  He had been told that it couldn’t be done due to flooding, narrowness of the road and there was no funding for sidewalks.   Within a week, I found a new funding source, revised the project to a public boardwalk to meet the grant guidelines. My professional goal was to build something that would help the economic viability of East Lyme. That project inspired me to find more funding to build Cini Park, a fishing platform, rehab dilapidated commercial fishing docks, build a canoe top launch, an economic strategy for Niantic Village, preservation of the movie theather, and finally develop the Niantic Bay Boardwalk. In looking back, the best part was that so many, including a few town officials, kept saying it couldn’t be done, but with a good team and enthusiastic residents, anything can be done. It’s so wonderful to see so many people on the boardwalks, fishing from the pier andNiantic village has grown in business and notoriety once again.

  4. What is your next goal?  I would love to engage a Connecticut community (and I may have found one) to farm to build an affordable new small farm and supportive housing venture as well as an teaching/education/production center for new farmers and small rural business startups in Connecticut with an emphasis on engagement toward young people, veterans, immigrants, minorities and women in rural Connecticut. We’ve done some work on this idea already and with the right minds working together, I believe it can happen in the next few years.

  5. What do you want to tell us about Haddam?  Haddam is an amazing community with great promise and an engaged citizenry. They have been fortunate to have had a visionary planner over many years who recently left for another career. She artfully guided them toward facilitating politically neutral discussions on how to work toward both sustainable economic growth while also maintaining the overall fabric of community engagement.  They recently won an award from CCAPA for these efforts.  There are numerous dedicated and passionate individuals in town who are working to find ways to tip the scales of fortune toward building a new village center in Higganum as well as planning for the challenges and opportunities at their gateway village area of Tylerville.

  6. Are you Dunks or Starbucks?  I’m a “it’s got to be local” coffee person. Love finding the out-of-the way coffee space gems where you least expect them.  That said, I worked for the City of Seattle when Starbucks was the local coffee shop.

  7. If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?  A good wood saw and my husband.

 

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