On Track for Continued Growth in the New Hub of Technology and Innovation

City of Stamford, CT
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

The already booming city of Stamford, Connecticut has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, and new data demonstrates that it has grown by almost ten percent since the last census…

Located just thirty miles from Manhattan, Stamford is an ideal choice for young adults who want to remain close to the lifestyle that only New York City can provide. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an enormous influx of new residents from the New York area.

The country’s most populous city has undergone a mass exodus, and many of these people have chosen Stamford for its proximity to New York, as well as its recreational opportunities, and its high safety ranking within the state. For these reasons, the city has seen its median age drop down quite a bit as roughly 25,000 people moved into the Fairfield County region.

“We’ve continued our apartment growth, and that’s really what led to the large population growth that we had here in Stamford,” explains Stamford Director of Economic Development Thomas Madden. In addition to its population growth, large companies have decided to set up here recently as well. “We’re finding now that companies are starting to chase the workforce, and the workforce has moved up to Stamford, so we’ve got companies following that workforce, which is kind of neat.”

To support the developing workforce, the city has programs specifically designed for the needs of local businesses. A new program called TechFWD was launched by the Ferguson Library and the Stamford Partnership to provide free courses to improve digital skills. Offering quality training and certifications, its two courses, ‘Content Marketing’ and ‘Grow With Google,’ offer people the opportunity to start a new career pathway in the growing digital sector. The program has piqued the interest of a few companies that are now hoping to sponsor it because it provides a sustainable workforce pipeline.

An exciting new program at the high school level has opened new possibilities for students. “We just got approval from the state to allow high school course credits for non-traditional internships. These are kids that may not choose the college or university route, but we will get them high school credits and get them into an internship leading to either an apprenticeship or a job right out of high school as well,” says Madden.

Besides the residential growth and workforce development, another reason businesses are choosing Stamford to start or relocate is the concierge service package offered by the city. The service is designed to make adjusting as easy as possible for any new company. From the building permit process and the zoning board to setting up meeting spaces and bringing in state services when necessary, the city provides resources and support every step of the way.

Businesses are also choosing Stamford for the same reason as residents, simply because it is a great place to live. Its location provides all the facilities and services of larger cities, combined with much more space and safety. “We are one of the safest cities within the New England region, and that’s really attributed to the great neighborhoods we have,” says Madden. “We have very proactive policing, and they are very much community-minded, which does a great job in making sure that we have a very low crime rate here.”

An abundance of recreational options are found across its parks and beaches because it is situated along the Long Island Sound, a tidal estuary between Connecticut and Long Island, New York, and the water plays a big part in the choice to move here for many people. The restaurant scene is also a bonus, as there are options for every kind of food.

A few of its restaurants have even garnered some fame on Instagram. Elm Street Diner’s great food is incredibly photo-worthy. Stillwater Sandwich Shoppe recently received attention when the woman with the largest mouth, according to the Guinness World Records, was able to put one of their enormous sandwiches in her mouth.

A large part of the economy in Stamford relies on tourism, and clearly, this was an industry heavily impacted by the pandemic. The city has recently seen tourism pick back up and its hotels are beginning to return to a normal state. Next year, it hopes to receive some tourism grant money to add more promotions that demonstrate all there is to be enjoyed in the area.

The city invested a lot of its money from the CARES Act into its infrastructure to support the continued expansion of the city, and fortunately, its infrastructure is keeping pace with its population and business growth. “The mayor has been really instrumental with making sure that we’re spending the right money, especially on our roadway systems. It’s been the right road at the right time and the right cost. His fiduciary responsibility is to make sure that the city continues on its path and keeps its AAA bond rating,” says Madden, referring to the previous mayor, David R. Martin. Stamford’s new mayor, Caroline Simmons, was just sworn in on December 1.

With all of the growth and relocation, there are many exciting developments to discuss. One new project is the Data Science Institute, a partnership between the University of Connecticut, entrepreneurial support network CTNext, and the city’s non-profit business collaborative StamfordNext to lead the way for Stamford to become the next big hub for technology and innovation. It will feature a technology incubator focused on data science and a startup studio for undergraduates to serve as a collaborative educational experience.

“We’ve had some great companies move in here to help solidify everything. Tomo Networks just set up here; the online mortgage company, Digital Currency Group just located here. They moved two of their locations out of NYC,” Madden says. “We have point pickup, which is a third-party delivery service, and we’ve got Amazon that’s looking to locate here.”

Although somewhat slowed by the pandemic, the city is continuing to work on its autonomous vehicle zone since it was chosen by the state as one of the test spaces. It is also following through with plans to develop one of the first interstate drone highways from Connecticut to New York.

On a side note, another sector that continues to see growth is the film industry. The high streaming and broadcasting capabilities here have increased the number of digital media and entertainment companies in the area. Just this summer, Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne were in Stamford shooting for The Good Nurse, and it looks as though this trend is only expected to grow. Other recent media productions include The Noel Diary, a Disney movie called Baskets, a Stephen King novella featuring Donald Sutherland, and a vast number of commercials.

With NBC Sports Group here, all of the Olympics footage broadcast by NBC Sports comes through every four years. This summer, NBC Sports brought approximately 1100 people into the city to help produce the Olympics. Other longstanding media companies in the city include The People’s Court, Maury, and the Steve Wilkos Show.

Stamford is officially the second-largest city within Connecticut as it has now outgrown New Haven. It is operating at a ninety-seven percent occupancy rate in its multi-family apartment buildings and is ranked second in Fairfield County in housing sales. In roughly two years, the population grew from 126,000 to 135,470, and the city has done an impressive job of keeping up with its growth in terms of infrastructure and workforce development.

“We’ve grown quite a bit, and I would think that we’re actually over 136,400 people just because of the new apartment buildings that have opened up,” Madden estimates. “We expect to grow more over the next five years, and I suspect that we will be moving into the 140,000s over the next three years as we get more apartment buildings opening up.”

The clear reason for such expansion within the city is that Stamford truly has it all. It is filled with the amenities that families and businesses want, and it provides real support to the community. “This administration has worked really hard over the last eight years to make sure we’re fulfilling the needs of our residents as well as the business community.”

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