The Department of Consumer Protection has issued its annual Top Ten list of consumer complaints for the past year. According to a review of more than 6,000 written consumer complaints received in 2013, home improvement complaints took a back seat to fuel-related complaints for the first time, while telemarketing, retail, and Internet complaints, real estate, and auto dealer complaints remained stable. Business closures led to increased complaints in some areas. The department received a total of 6,008 written complaints in 2013, while the number of phoned-in complaints and questions numbered in the tens of thousands.
After a month-long campaign, where the community was invited to submit their picks for favorite Newtown businesses in four different categories, the Newtown Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of Newtown announce the nominees for the 2014 Business of the Year award. The community is invited to vote for the business they feel is most deserving of each honor, has consistently displayed excellence in the way they serve their customers, and how they support the Newtown community. Voting will remain open through 5 pm March 31. A link to vote is posted on both the Newtown Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of Newtown websites.
While all nominees will be given honorable mention, the top three nominees in each category will be highlighted at an awards dinner and ceremony on March 31.
The Newtown Economic Development Commission, the Newtown Chamber of Commerce and the local chapter of SCORE is kicking off its series of Small Business Seminars March 13. The series of free workshops for local business owners and entrepreneurs is sponsored by Newtown Savings Bank, with all activities taking place at the CH Booth Library. According to Newtown Economic Development Assistant Betsy Paynter, these seminars are designed to help local businesses stay competitive and successful by providing content and tools to help them grow and prosper in Newtown. In 2013, the EDC sponsored seven business seminars, covering a range of support content and business tools such as, disaster preparedness, online marketing, small business financing opportunities, e-mail marketing, and job-generating state programs.
The Newtown Chamber of Commerce will continue its free monthly networking events — which are free and open to all local business professionals — on Wednesday, March 12, at 8 am. The event will be held at Sal e Pepe Contemporary Italian Bistro, and will feature Neil Holme of Impact Business Technology. Mr Holme is slated to be speaking about “Technology Trends,” including an overview of how to keep a business up to date with emerging equipment, as well as the benefits of embracing evolving technological advances. Light refreshments will be served. Reservations are not needed.
Newtown residents and visitors to Sandy Hook have undoubtedly noticed recent improvements in the village center. Phase II of the new streetscape, with sidewalks, pedestrian-oriented lighting and amenities, was recently completed, enhancing the visual impression and creating a more enjoyable and walkable environment. Events and activities, such as Passport to Sandy Hook, The Great Pootatuck Duck Race, and the Sandy Hook Tree Lighting have been successful in bringing people to the village to celebrate and enjoy each other’s company. A new branding and marketing program has been developed for Sandy Hook Village, and the community is gearing up to launch new promotional material that will benefit small businesses with the impending hire of a brand steward. Now, the village is working on the nuts and bolts of creating a strategic action plan, and the public is invited to participate. A Sandy Hook Action Planning Workshop will be held on Wednesday, March 12, at Sandy Hook Fire & Rescue Company's main station. Hosted by Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity, the community is invited to attend and help craft the plan.
Responding to a call from The Newtown Bee, the operators of Newtown’s independently owned RadioShack store said on March 4 they will remain open even as its corporate owners are announcing the closure of about 1,100 other company-owned stores across the country. RadioShack Corporation announced on Tuesday that it plans to close about a fifth of its US locations. The news came as the retailer reported a wider quarterly loss after a disappointing holiday season. Long known as a destination for batteries and obscure electronic parts, RadioShack has sought to remake itself as a specialist in wireless devices and accessories. But growth in the wireless business is slowing, as more people have smartphones and see fewer reasons to upgrade. In addition to slashing costs and shuffling management, RadioShack has been renovating its stores with a more modern look. The company said that the stores targeted for closings are being selected based on location, area demographics, lease duration, and financial performance.
The Working Women’s Forum, an association of local professionals and entrepreneurs, will feature “Refining Your Public Speaking: Deliver Your Message Effectively” with Newtown resident and IT professional Alenda Calderbank on Wednesday, March 12, at The Villa Restaurant. Networking and light dinner begin at 6 pm, followed by the guest speaker. Many people find public speaking to be daunting, and have been discouraged from pursuing opportunities in order to avoid it, according to Ms Calderbank, a member of Toastmasters since 2005. In her talk, she will describe ways to get comfortable speaking before a group.
The Northern Fairfield Professionals, a networking group focusing on people in transition, will meet Tuesday, March 11, from 5:30 to 8 pm, at the Knights of Columbus building. Entrepreneurs and business professionals are invited to join the group for networking, followed by a presentation at 6 by Mark Troncone on “Everything that you wanted to know about networking, but were afraid to try.” Admission is free.
As president and chief operating officer for Stamford-based Frontier Communications, Sandy Hook resident Dan McCarthy has a unique vantage point as his company moves through the process of taking over Connecticut’s residential phone and communications services and infrastructure from AT&T. On December 17, 2013, Frontier Communications announced an agreement to acquire AT&T’s wireline properties in Connecticut. Mr McCarthy expects the transition to close in the second half of 2014 while AT&T continues to provide service to its local customers.
On the strength of data compiled in a survey produced mainly by two Newtown residents, Governor Dannel Malloy announced that the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and its Office of Tourism’s “Still Revolutionary” campaign is paying off in a revolutionary way. New tracking results demonstrate the $22 million Statewide Tourism Marketing Fund investment over the course of 18 months has generated measurable gains in overall tourism spending to the state and has helped increase positive awareness of Connecticut as a place to visit. Since its inception, “Still Revolutionary,” the state’s award-winning marketing campaign, has reached target consumers in key markets with its message nearly 646 million times. According to a study conducted by strategic research firm Harrison Group, the effort is estimated to have generated dramatic shifts in perception about the state...