Waterbury: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Although manufacturing remains the mainstay of the Waterbury economy, the city is working toward diversifying its industrial base. New areas include chemical research and services such as banking. Area analysts and real estate brokers consider Waterbury a major Northeast distribution and warehouse center because of its proximity to interstate highways and affordable real estate prices. The commercial/retail segment of the city's economic base has been substantially enhanced by the development of a large regional mall, and other sizable retail projects.

Waterbury is also an attractive site for many corporations. Headquartered in Waterbury are Webster Financial Corp.; Les-Care Kitchens; Hubbard-Hall, Inc.; American Bank of Connecticut; Voltarc Technologies, Inc.; QScend Technologies, Inc.; and Waterbury Companies, Inc., among others.

Items and goods produced: fabricated brass and copper goods, plastic and paper products, automotive and screw machine products, automotive and electronic components, cold-formed fastening products, stamped metal products, women's apparel, toys, wire goods, and tool and die products for the metal fabrication industry

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

The Naugatuck Valley Development Corporation (NVDC) is a nonprofit economic development corporation that services the city of Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley Region of Connecticut. The activities carried out by NVDC range from the implementation of industrial and commercial development projects (some of which encompass more than 100 acres), to the development of Downtown Waterbury, to the administration of direct financial and development assistance for individual businesses.

Local programs

The City of Waterbury created a business incentive program that makes tax abatements and other benefits available to information technology businesses. A geographic area located within the Central Business District commonly referred to as the Information Technology Zone (ITZ) was defined to narrow the focus of economic impact. The State of Connecticut provided the funding for installing an infrastructure and wiring downtown buildings. Waterbury is classed as a labor surplus area, giving it preference in bidding on federal procurement contracts.

State programs

The Connecticut Development Authority works to expand Connecticut's business base. It offers a variety of tax, financial, and business incentives to encourage companies to locate in Connecticut. Small and large businesses alike can take advantage of incentives such as below-market-rate loans; employee recruiting and training; reduced utility rates; and income tax, sales tax, and property tax exemptions or abatements. Information technology projects may obtain grants for a portion of the projected cost.

Job training programs

Customized job training assistance and on-the-job training are available through the Connecticut Labor Department and the local office of Workforce Connection. The Waterbury Education Department has recently teamed up with several local manufacturers to provide an apprenticeship program for the automatic screw machine industry.

Development Projects

Phase I of Waterbury's Downtown Development Plan involved the building of an arts, education, and entertainment center focusing on the Palace Theater. The focus of Phase II of the Downtown Development Project includes an area of East Main Street between the Green and Elm Street. A development is planned here that will connect the downtown area with the Brass Mills Mall and Shopping Center. The plan is to create an area that will bring people together for entertainment, cultural, and educational events. Also part of the Phase II plan is the Arts Magnet School, which opened in 2004. The school educates students in grades 6 to 12. The building, which stretches along East Main Street, consists of administrative offices, classrooms, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, as well as a media center.

The Willow/West Main Street area of Waterbury is currently in the midst of a three-phase plan for revitalization of the area. In addition to aesthetic improvements, work is underway on an off-street public parking lot, a neighborhood community center, and rehabilitation of area buildings.

In 1995, after both of Waterbury's hospitals identified the need to replace aging oncology equipment, a steering committee concluded that both Saint Mary's and Waterbury both hospitals would need to undertake extensive renovations to make the necessary improvements. It was eventually decided that the best solution was for the two hospitals to join forces by investing in new equipment and building a new off-site, state-of-the-art facility. The result of their collaboration is the Harold Leever Regional Cancer Center, opened in 2002, which utilizes the most current knowledge, skill, technology, and support services available today.

Economic Development Information: Naugatuck Valley Development Corporation, 100 Grand Street, Waterbury, CT 06702; telephone (203)756-2719; fax (203)756-9077

Commercial Shipping

Since the Naugatuck River is not navigable in the Waterbury area, railroads play a major role in the transportation of freight, especially Boston & Maine. In addition, air freight service is available out of a number of Connecticut and New York airports. Motor freight is carried by several companies based in Waterbury and by national and regional trucking firms that travel Interstate 84 and Route 8 daily.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Waterbury's labor force is described as available, skilled, and with a good work ethic inherited from the old-world craftsmen who built the region. Its central location enables the area to draw from a well-educated workforce. Waterbury anticipates a healthy economic future as a manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution center for the region.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Waterbury metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 68,700

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 2,900

manufacturing: 10,900

trade, transportation, and utilities: 13,500

information: 1,100

financial activities: 2,800

professional and business services: 5,900

education and health services: 14,000

leisure and hospitality: 4,700

other services: 2,800

government: 10,200

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $14.60

Unemployment rate: 7.2% (February 2005)

Waterbury: Economy

Largest employers Number of employees
City of Waterbury (the first three are identified as having 1,000 or more employees; no employee figures available for the others, but they are identified as major area employers)
St. Mary's Hospital
Waterbury Hospital
Abbott Terrace Health Center
Anamet, Inc.
Cedar Lane Rehabilitation Center
Connecticut Light & Power Company
Sears Roebuck & Company
Southern New England Telephone
Stop & Shop
Voltarc Technologies, Inc.
U.S. Postal Service (Waterbury Branch)
Waterbury Buckle Company
Waterbury Companies, Inc.
Waterbury Republican-American

Cost of Living

The median sale price for houses and condominiums in Waterbury in 2000 was $94,000; in 2004 the average listing price for residential properties was $152,047.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the Waterbury area.

2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported

2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported

State income tax rate: 3% to 5% tax on adjusted gross income

State sales tax rate: 6% on most items

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: None

Property tax rate: $97.79 per $1,000 of assessed fair market value

Economic Information: Naugatuck Valley Development Corporation, 100 Grand Street, Waterbury, CT 06702; telephone (203)756-2719; fax (203)756-9077