The City of Norwalk has become a national example of a small city that boasts a thriving and dynamic economy; varied housing choices for all income levels; many safe and convenient ways to get around, including walking and biking; connected, accessible and beautiful open spaces; a commitment to lifelong learning; and an active and resilient coastline. Norwalk is the center of art, culture and entertainment for our region. We combine the character of a historic New England community on the coast of Long Island Sound with a thriving city in the country’s largest metropolitan area.
Affectionately referred to as “Oyster Town” due to its deeply rooted history as a fishing harbor and waterway, Norwalk embraces its seaside prominence, instilling a strong and sustainable coastal environment and preserving Norwalk’s maritime heritage. The Norwalk Seaport Association and Maritime Aquarium, both integral components of the renaissance of South Norwalk (SoNo), are a driving force behind the City’s robust tourism industry. Popular Norwalk attractions include Sheffield Island Lighthouse and ferry rides; Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, a national registered historic landmark; Mill Hill Historic Park and Norwalk Historical Society; Stepping Stones Museum for Children, dedicated to early childhood education; historic Wall Street Theater; The Norwalk Art Space offering free classes, studios and exhibitions for under-served students and under-represented artists; plus numerous parks, hiking trails and year-round events that highlight Norwalk’s active arts, entertainment, outdoor lifestyle, boating and dining scene.
Urban renewal efforts throughout the City have never been healthier. New construction and the restoration of historic buildings are on the rise. Given Norwalk’s access to Metro-North, the City has seen tremendous transit-oriented growth in the urban center of South Norwalk. These new developments trend well with Norwalk’s flourishing restaurant scene, breweries and creative economy. Additionally, Building and Land Technology recently enhanced Norwalk’s Route 7 Corridor with the development of North 7, a sprawling mixed-use community with stunning modern amenities and sensibility.
Renewal and urban redevelopment plans are also underway for the Wall Street and West Avenue neighborhoods that have seen tremendous growth and change over the last decade, including 1,000 new apartments and 78,000 square feet of commercial space. Its neighborhood anchor institutions, including Norwalk Hospital, King Industries, Norwalk Public Library, Factory Underground and the Wall Street Theater, continue to foster an identity around art, science, technology, culture and health and wellness. New parking, zoning, construction and infrastructure are at the forefront of the city’s revitalization strategy for this historic neighborhood.
The City has three federally designated Opportunity Zones and an Enterprise Zone to spur investment and redevelopment within it urban core. These zones overlap with the South Norwalk (SoNo) and Historic Downtown (Wall Street and West Avenue) neighborhoods.
Both businesses and property owners located within the three Opportunity Zones can benefit by garnering additional investor pools designated for these geographies. Investors can defer taxes on any prior capital gains invested in a Qualified Opportunity Fund. These funds can be used to invest in real estate or businesses within the Opportunity Zones.
All real property in the Enterprise Zone that is improved is eligible to have its real estate assessment fixed for a period of seven years from the time of the improvement. Manufacturing businesses are also eligible for exemptions throughout the city, not just in the specific Enterprise Zone geography, which exempts them from sales tax and some state taxes (equipment, machinery and personal property are also tax-exempt).
Norwalk, a city built on diversity and local business, is also proud of its Small Business and Main Street Programs. Though some programs are area-specific, many apply citywide. These tools are designed to support qualities that help neighborhoods advance and thrive.
Aligned with the Plan of Conservation and Development, the City of Norwalk has the mission of supporting new and growing businesses, with a focus on women and minority-owned business enterprises. The Economic and Community Development Department has a relationship with the National League of Cities and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which approached the city with a unique opportunity to partner with Kiva.
Kiva is a nonprofit company that has a microlending platform with zero fees and interest for loans between $1,000 and $15,000. The purpose of the program is to support businesses and their owners that would typically be ineligible to receive other loan products through traditional financing options.
Norwalk’s Storefront Improvement Program encourages businesses and property owners within commercial corridors to improve the front exterior of their commercial properties, making these areas more attractive to shoppers and growing the businesses’ economic vitality. City property owners or tenants can apply on a first-come, first-serve basis to access financial resources to be used to renovate or restore commercial building exterior facades. The city will match up to 80% of project costs up to $20,000 (maximum match of $16,000).
Norwalk Innovations is the city’s new venture capital arm and will offer equity investments, strategic guidance and introductions to valuable partners to enable promising businesses to develop and thrive in the city.
Visit Norwalk is the first business model of its kind in Fairfield County to offer free marketing, social media and public relations assistance to Norwalk restaurants, retailers, arts and entertainment venues, attractions and lifestyle businesses. It offers a cohesive and collaborative program designed to educate and support local business owners with their marketing endeavors.
Norwalk welcomes you to join our beautiful and evolving community. For more information, please contact Sabrina Godeski, Director of Business Development & Tourism, City of Norwalk, at 203-854-7948 or 203-939-2202 or email email@example.com. Please, also visit www.norwalkct.org and www.visitnorwalk.org to learn more.