MONROE, CT — Businesses hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic will have a point person from the town to help them navigate through disaster relief programs, while getting back on their feet.
First Selectman Ken Kellogg appointed William Holsworth, a lifelong Monroe resident, to a temporary community and economic recovery coordinator position, created to lead support efforts for Monroe’s long-term recovery, according to a press release issued Monday.
“As we all know, the town remains in a state of emergency,” Kellogg said. “In light of the pandemic, the work necessary to give Monroe the greatest opportunity for a strong economic recovery has grown tremendously in both scope and magnitude.”
He said the town intends to pursue funding from state and federal disaster relief programs to support the position.
As coordinator, Holsworth will support all aspects of the recovery effort, including working with local businesses to help them survive and remain in Monroe, developing a framework for local economic expansion and coordinating access to the various, and often complex, disaster funding sources available.
“We want both the town and our commercial organizations to be aware of these programs and to provide assistance wherever we can,” said Kellogg.
Holsworth will also be Monroe’s dedicated representative to regional long-term recovery efforts being established by the state. While not strictly focused on economic development, Kellogg stressed that aspect as being fundamental to recovery.
“This also provides us the opportunity to evaluate the viability of a similar, permanent role,” he said, “but I would want to see a clear, net return for our taxpayers before proposing a permanent position.”
The willingness of Kellogg, who is a Republican, to evaluate an economic development coordinator position may mean the town’s two major political parties are on the same page on this issue.
During last election and earlier in this year’s budget process, town Democrats promoted the idea of hiring an economic development coordinator to help grow the town’s commercial tax base.
However, the economy was doing much better at the time with steady growth in the grand list. Since the pandemic, many types of businesses had to close or operate remotely as unemployment soared.
Holsworth has a strong, diverse background ranging from business analysis and product development to corporate finance, where he has served in executive levels, according to Kellogg.
The first selectman also touted Holsworth’s background in the real estate market, which gave him experience dealing directly with property owners, Realtors and developers as a former leader at a mortgage origination firm.
“I’m eager to hit the ground running, and help the community that I love,” Holsworth said.
Kellogg said Holsworth will get right to work, adding, “this is an emergency, and I want to accelerate this process immediately.”