ORANGE, Conn. — June 23, 2020 — As part of a broader commitment to support COVID-19 relief and recovery, United Illuminating and Southern Connecticut Gas today announced they are providing funding to support the struggling downtown business districts in Bridgeport and New Haven.
The subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) are providing $20,000 to Bridgeport’s Downtown Special Services District to help small, independent, ground-floor businesses plan and execute their reopening. Another $20,000 grant will help theEconomic Development Corporation of New Haven/REX Development provide micro-grants so that downtown restaurants and shops can provide safe outdoor dining and retail spaces.
“While the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been felt across virtually every sector of the economy, these last few months have been particularly painful for many small, independent downtown businesses that rely on foot traffic to sustain themselves,” said Tony Marone, President and CEO of Avangrid Networks, the parent company of UI and SCG. “By providing this support, we hope that we can help these small businesses adapt to new health and safety requirements and spring back as the economy reopens.”
The support for the downtown areas is part of a larger, $2.5 million commitment by parent company AVANGRID and its independent, philanthropic Avangrid Foundation to support COVID-19 relief and recovery at the national and local level. Locally, that includes a previously announced $210,000 from the AVANGRID companies directed at community foundations, chambers of commerce and energy assistance organizations. It also includes $75,000 in Avangrid Foundation support for COVID-19 response funds established by Connecticut United Way chapters and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
The funding announced today allows the Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District to provide micro-grants and technical assistance to downtown businesses so they can develop reopening plans and successfully re-launch.
“The independently owned restaurants and shops that populate the street-level spaces in our neighborhood create connection points that foster the sense of community in the community so special to the downtown and the city,” said Lauren Coakley Vincent, the organization’s president and CEO. “The Relaunch Grant program will be a point of hope as our neighborhood, and the city, rebuilds from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In New Haven, ECD/REX Development will use the funding to help ground-floor downtown restaurants and shops obtain plastic barriers, ramps and signage they need to set up safe outdoor dining and retail spaces. It will also support a public art program to decorate the barriers.
“The Economic Development Corporation of New Haven is grateful to be included in the Relaunch Program as New Haven starts to re-open its economy,” said Ginny Kozlowski, Executive Director at REX Development. “Our restaurants that have been so negatively impacted by the COVID crisis now have the opportunity to expand their capacity and host more customers with the outdoor spaces that will be created by this grant. As we know, it is the small businesses that drive our economy, and it is imperative that we provide businesses with opportunities to rehire their staff.”
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