Cheshire – The past year has brought a lot of bad news in terms of the impact of the pandemic on the state and the nation. However, in Cheshire, when it comes to the local economy, things are already positive.
Andrew Martelli, economic development coordinator for Cheshire, announced that throughout 2021, despite the pandemic, Cheshire managed to create more than 800 jobs. This growth was fueled in part by the arrival of new businesses, such as Starbucks and Bone In Prime Steakhouse.
Martelli stated that a new business moved to the town at the end of 2021, taking the site of the well-known former Cheshire institution.
“Rebel Interactive closed in the old Furniture Barn (535 West Main St.) last week,” Martelli told The Herald. “It’s a great company, and they really want to get involved in the community, and we’re very excited about it.”
Rebel Interactive is a digital marketing company with about 95 employees, who plan to move to the site sometime in the winter.
“They plan to move in at the beginning of March,” Martelli said. “There are still some things that need to be done to make sure they can be successful on-site, such as expanding broadband capabilities in the area.”
City Manager Sean Kimball, who helped Martelli with the deal, commented on how the Southington-based company was looking for an opportunity to expand, and that the old Furniture Barn site should fit right in.
“Andrew and I first met the (Rebel Interactive) leadership team in August, and the city has worked closely with them over the past few months to provide any helpful information or assistance we can with while completing the property purchase,” Kimball said. “Having a dynamic and innovative marketing firm full of working professionals has the potential to transform the West Main Street area. At our first meeting, senior executives expressed their enthusiasm and desire to become a meaningful and contributing member of the Cheshire community through community events, school partnerships and training opportunities. , etc.”
Rebel Interactive also has plans to renovate the property into a new high-tech video production space that can be used to shoot commercials for clients, record podcasts, and provide a variety of other services. Both Kimball and Martelli feel that bringing this company into the community would be a positive thing.
“Cheshire doesn’t have anything like that,” said Martelli. “So it’s very exciting that they decided to work with us, and that couldn’t have come at a better time.”
In addition to Rebel Interactive coming to Cheshire, the city expects to build on the more than 800 jobs created over the past year, with Martelli making it clear that many local businesses are still looking to expand their workforce.
“Places like Macy’s and Bozuto are still hiring, along with many other businesses in the city,” Martelli said. “It’s one of the reasons we’re asking legislators (push the state) to consider adding a bus route to serve these areas in order to help our biggest employers get employees to work.”
Currently, there is no public bus route adequately serving the northern end of the city, where companies such as Macy’s and Bozzuto’s are located. With the new legislative session nearing its start, Martelli hopes that will change.
“The proposed route would not only serve the northern end of the city, but would also go to the prison to help all of our residents and employees,” Martelli said. “Cheshire residents will be able to visit anyone who might be in prison, or if they work there it will help them too.”
However, not all the recent news on the business front has been positive. Cheshire bid farewell to one of its most famous orchards – Hickory Hill Orchards – which has been in operation for 44 years. The orchard, located at 351 South Meriden Road, announced on Facebook on November 27 that it would be closing.
“It is with a heavy heart we announce our last working day for Hickory Hill. It’s been 44 years of fun, contentment and friendship! We have always been grateful to our loyal and appreciated customers and we will miss you all!”
The Kodish family that runs the orchard has no future plans to sell the property, according to Martelli, and they still plan to live in the orchard and operate it for non-commercial purposes.