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Economic Development for Municipal Hospitality and Tourism Businesses

Posted on by Sadie Colcord

Free Summer Trolley in Clinton, Connecticut

CERC’s Municipal Services Team has been working with the Town of Clinton for about a year and half on both planning and implementation of a variety of different economic development projects. One of the tasks I have taken on is working with the Economic Development Commission to coordinate quarterly gatherings of the town’s hospitality and tourism businesses. These meetings allow the EDC to solicit feedback on ways they might be able to best support this industry and to provide the businesses with information on helpful resources.

After engaging in several candid discussions at these meetings about the needs of the industry overall at the local level, the EDC decided to pursue the concept of a free summer trolley meant to shuttle visitors between key Clinton attractions. The hospitality/tourism businesses thrive in the summer due to the town’s location on Long Island Sound, so the group agreed that this would be a good approach to introducing visitors to everything Clinton has to offer.

Developing a Strategy for a Free Summer Trolley

With CERC guidance, the EDC decided to further pursue the trolley concept through a local nonprofit, Placemakers, to shift liability from the Town to a non-affiliated group. The stars aligned when a local developer donated a trolley to the nonprofit, and we next had to determine how to coordinate the insurance and staffing.

Placemakers leaders then met with the regional transit authority to discuss this effort. The group offered to provide the staff and insurance to run the trolley, with the nonprofit simply paying an hourly rate to fund this. We worked on a strategy to cover this hourly rate and found that by selling advertising panels to local businesses along the exterior and interior of the trolley, all the costs could be covered. Interest in the advertising opportunity was high, so the trolley service will start this summer, beginning on June 28th and running through September 1st.

At the beginning of the year, summer trolley service in Clinton was just a pipe dream, but, as all the pieces began falling into place, we were able to leverage the determination of local businesses and volunteers to bring a major asset to Clinton. Be sure to visit this summer and experience the trolley for yourself!