Meet Kevin Bielmeier
Where do you work?
New Milford Town Hall, lower level, and Fridays at Makery Coworking.
What's your role?
Economic Development Director
How do you serve your customers/constituents?
The aim is to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for the community, by creating or retaining jobs that facilitate growth and provide a stable tax base. To do that, you have to be creative; supporting and encouraging the business community, serving as a partner with the other municipal departments, area commercial brokers, financial lenders and business groups, like the Chamber, to develop opportunities, events and community projects. I market the Town; seek grant opportunities and connect with potential developers to encourage their investment here, while working with existing business owners on retaining and expanding their business.
What's the best business decision you've ever made?
Accepting a corporate job at Ethan Allen's global headquarters in Danbury. After years of freelancing and globe-trotting, my ten years there allowed me to start a family and buy a home in New Milford. My job was creative, in advertising and training, and required I learn every aspect of their international, vertically-integrated business, from top to bottom including embracing the entrepreneurism from independent retailers, manufacturing, marketing, merchandising, management, sales, interior design - all of it. When leaving, I thanked CEO Farooq Kathwari, whom I had the benefit of working closely with, for my "on-the-job MBA."
What's the mistake you learned the most from?
Believing I was indispensable. Having to start over; reinvent myself at 43.
What is the biggest challenge/opportunity you see in the next 3-5 years?
For Connecticut, including New Milford, to reinvent itself. We must consider who we are and what we offer and develop a unique message that resonates and is attractive to future residents and businesses. We can no longer stay stagnant; fixed in the "what once was." We can do this; we have great resources - talent, beauty and proximity to major markets - and we must, if we are to be the vibrant, economically-healthy place we absolutely want to be.
Tell us about a movie or book that inspired you the most and why.
Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way by Richard Branson.
It's a riveting, grand-adventure story about entrepreneurism with a capital E! You learn the value of risk-taking; the importance of brand; of having fun while working hard; that if you don't enjoy what you're doing - go do something else. No one is going to be more passionate about your business than you are. I learned to appreciate anticipating the future and being able to change; of keeping businesses "small and nimble" to allow change, and the importance of work-life balance.
What do you love about Connecticut?
What initially attracted me to Connecticut was its scenic beauty. Outside of Hawaii, where I lived in the '90s, Litchfield County is the most beautiful area I have ever resided. My wife and I have only owned one home in 30 years of marriage, and its here in New Milford, since 2002. I truly believe Connecticut has it all: scenic beauty, historical roots (I love American history), arts and culture, intellectual capital, farmland, vineyards, a strong independent constituency, a beneficial location between Boston and New York, and...as I have discovered living in New Milford... a deep sense of community. #explorenewmilford #itsallhere
You can find all of Kevin's contact information on the Town's Economic Development Website. Be sure to like the Economic Development Facebook Page to keep up to date on their news and progress. Kevin also invites you to connect on LinkedIn.