Khela McGann/The Littleton Courier
Town Moderator Gerald Winn holds up the plaque he received when he was named Business Leader of the Year for 2011. (click for larger version)
November 22, 2011LITTLETON — After serving as the town moderator for more than 45 years and helping to lead the first phase of an extensive community project, Gerald Winn was named Littleton's Business Leader of the Year for 2011.
Winn, who has been a resident since 1951, received the title and a plaque during the Chamber of Commerce's 19th annual Littleton Economic Development Celebration last week— a time for local businesses to rally and reflect before the holiday season on everything that has been done this year and what's coming.
"We've had differences in Littleton for a long time," said Winn. "But we tend to work them out."
The most high-profile differences the town has recently had to face stemmed from last winter's budget season when a $745,000 cut was suggested and emotions ran high on both sides of the issue. The Littleton Area Community Project (LACP) was born out of this turmoil, and about 40 residents representing different stakeholders in the town developed a blueprint over the summer addressing the town's social, financial and structural needs.
Winn moderated the meetings, which started last spring and lasted until September, and helped guide the committee to eventually publish and unveil to the greater community a vision for Littleton's future.
Local lawyer Brien Ward said this year the Chamber could count 92 improvements and investments compared to 32 last year.
Despite the economy, said Ward, "this has been a very, very solid year."
Main Street and downtown investments include the addition of the French Sisters Bakery, the expansion of Emma & Co.'s consignment shop, Gold House Pizza's renovation of the Bugbee Block Renovation and the addition of P&S Furniture to just name a few. On Mill and Saranac streets there were expansions for Saranac Street Antiques and Lucky Mattress and Bedding; and on Meadow Street the Bagel Depot and Big Papa's Fruit and Vegetable Stand both set up shop. As for real estate redevelopment and reuse, the Bridge Outreach Center is using the old Hitchiner Building, Parker's Market & Deli has expanded and Towle's Trailer Park is being cleaned up, said Ward.
One of Thursday afternoon's speakers also helped showcase Littleton's attractiveness to businesses in the market for setting up new locations.
Kevin Low of SNS (Secured Network Services), a Norwood, Mass.-based IT and data services company founded in 2002, said his company will be setting up a branch in the Industrial Park and bring at least 10 jobs to the area initially.
"One of the things that made it a slam dunk," said Low, was every group we met with was super positive.
"We felt very welcome here."
Also the availability of power, the fiber network, Littleton's location, and the Industrial Park as a whole, was a key selling point for SNS, which had been searching for a good location for the second office for three to four years, he said afterwards.
Chamber Director Chad Stearns on Friday said that SNS is an example of what Littleton 2020 is looking for, fitting into one of its concepts for an "intelligent community center" — or an incubator centered on technology.
Littleton 2020 was formed about five years ago to get new and young businesses leaders invested in the town. The task force came up with about 20 initiatives that could be looked at for the long term, including a sports arena, a walk-able meadow where the big-box stores have sprung up, a four-year residential college and an extended Riverwalk.