Victor Lopez of the Hispanic Coalition.


   A city coalition of neighborhood, social service, education, civic and health organizations has successfully applied for an initial grant to design an economic revitalization effort to increase jobs for residents in the city’s South End neighborhood. The coalition has been awarded a $15,000 design grant as part of the Working Cities Challenge sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Waterbury will now join 9 other CT communities in competing for second phase funding where 4-6 cities will receive grants ranging from $300,000-500,000 to implement their proposed economic revitalization programs and/or projects.

   “This award by the Federal Reserve is great for Waterbury,” said Mayor Neil O’Leary. “We have a great team working on this effort and feel very optimistic about moving forward.”

   Waterbury will benefit from the Federal Reserve’s one-on-one coaching and connections to experts, best practices, and opportunities for peer networking as it designs its effort over the next 6 months.

   “This grant is about more than a project,” said Alderman Victor Lopez, one of the two co-chairs who is also Executive Director of the Hispanic Coalition. “It seeks to give voice to the residents of the South End neighborhood and make sure their interests and needs are addressed in any redevelopment effort.”

   Coalition co-chair Kevin Taylor, Executive Director, Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Waterbury added that this effort could serve as a model that can be replicated in other Waterbury neighborhoods. High unemployment coupled with several imminent redevelopment efforts that could create jobs were the key factors in targeting the South End.

   The state is contributing $1 million toward the challenge, and foundations are contributing another $2 million, said David Radcliffe, the director of the Connecticut Working Cities Challenge. Local supporters include CT Community Foundation and Webster Bank.

   The Working Cities Challenge in Connecticut builds upon the success of the initiative in Rhode Island and Massachusetts (now in its second round of competition). The inaugural round of the Boston Fed’s Working Cities Challenge was launched in May 2013 in Massachusetts.

   Waterbury was one of 16 cities that applied for the design grant. Other winning cities are Bridgeport, Danbury, East Hartford, Hartford, Middletown, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich and Torrington.