One Coast, One Future is a regional initiative that was formed in 2005. Its mission is to promote vibrant economic growth in the region by linking the social and economic advantages offered by the three urban centers and surrounding towns. The initiative is comprised of a consortium of 14 communities in lower Fairfield County formed by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and The Business Council of Fairfield County in cooperation with the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce.
The One Coast, One Future consortium needed help in developing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) in order to apply for federal funding. As the lead organizations in the One Coast, One Future consortium, the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, the Fairfield County Business Council and the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce retained the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC) to gather and analyze data, and draft recommendations and action steps to include in the CEDS.
CERC facilitated monthly steering committee meetings for more than a year, providing all of the economic analysis so the group could make informed decisions based on trends. CERC provided a comprehensive CEDS document, including a full technical appendix, presenting the analysis, key findings and recommendations to enhance the region. CERC also produced a variety of maps showing different special views of the area, in addition to completing community benchmarks. CERC is currently presenting the information to the key stakeholder groups for approval of the overall plan.
CERC’s research showed that certain towns were becoming more disadvantaged and that a disparity between wealthy and poor towns was increasing, resulting in a growing inequity in the region. Once the CEDS is approved by the key stakeholders it will be submitted to the federal government so that One Coast will receive funding to improve regional workforce and infrastructure. The findings from the analysis will also help the consortium develop future strategies.