August 1st 2013
By Korey Wilson
STAMFORD — If state Rep. William Tong gets elected as mayor in November, he has vowed to nurture and develop small businesses and startup companies in “the city that works.”
Tong made the first of many stops on his Stamford 2020 tour at the Stamford Innovation Center on Thursday.
“Stamford 2020 is our vision as a campaign (and) as a city to make Stamford one of the best cities in America for families by the year 2020. It has three key components: improving our public schools; improving our public safety; and small business and startups,” Tong said.
Headquartered in Atlantic Avenue’s Old Town Hall building, the Stamford Innovation Center is a hub where early-stage entrepreneurs can gather, collaborate, and set up shop.
Companies like Local Yokel Media and SYNQWARE occupy office space at the downtown business center.
“We have a lot of talented and creative people who may be returning to the workforce or reinventing their career after some sort of corporate career. They might not want to work out of their house. The most important reason to co-work is there are colleagues here. There’s a community here around you,” said Peter Propp, vice president of marketing at Stamford Innovation Center.
On the tour of the Innovation Center, Tong and his campaign members met with some of the city’s up and coming entrepreneurs and later held a roundtable discussion on how startup businesses will move the city forward.
Tong’s experiences as an attorney at Stamford-based law firm Finn, Dixon & Herling has demonstrated the growing need for more start-up businesses.
“In my day job … I’m a lawyer in a private practice and I work mostly with venture capital funds and private equity funds. I’m on the front lines of investors or funders that will power this innovation economy,” he said. “I see the opportunity we have because we have one of the highest concentrations of investment capital in the world right here in Stamford.”
Tong also stressed the need of finding storefronts for startups.
“We have a 25 percent or more vacancy rate in Stamford in our commercial buildings, said Tong. “As mayor, (I will) reach out to building owners and developers and make sure those landlords find space for those start ups.”
The mayoral hopeful would like to create more small business collectives like Stamford Innovation Center.
He intends to use his pull on the state level to encourage business growth in Stamford.
“I’m going to use my experience to bring those dollars here to make sure we grow this start up and small business ecosystem right here at home in Stamford,” Tong said.