On Wednesday, Rilling introduced members of the council, who will serve as volunteers. Their selection was the result of a collaboration by Mayor Rilling, Irene Dixon, Director of Sales & Marketing, Hilton Garden Inn and State Senator Bob Duff.
The council planned to send out request for applications for the successor to Tad Diesel, who had served under Mayor Moccia as Norwalk's Director of Marketing and Business Development.
"We'll be looking for someone who will aggressively market the city of Norwalk by reaching out to potential investors, potential businesses, trying to draw people into Norwalk – showing them our natural resources, showing them what we have to offer and why we're the best place to do business," Rilling said.
Rilling added that the new director will work closely with both the Chamber of Commerce and Redevelopment Agency and that some of the members of the task force are also executive board members of the Chamber and the Redevelopment Agency.
Asked for details on Diesel's departure, Rilling replied, "Why Tad left, that's personal to him. He retired. And he will be moving to Florida... That's personal. If you're going to ask me if I asked Tad to leave, no I did not. Tad made his own decision on his own time based on what was best for him."
Rilling said ideally he'd like to have a new Economic Development Director in place in 30 days.
Rilling said another priority is to make Norwalk more business friendly and that he had heard often during his campaign that the city is a difficult place to do business.
"Someone who wants to start a business or start a construction project in Norwalk, or put a back deck on their house...I've heard that Norwalk is a difficult place to do business, and it takes longer than it might take some place else," said Rilling who added that he wants to streamline the permitting process and make it more user-friendly.
State Senator Duff said this council reflects a diversity of businesses – including family business, medium sized business and big business – all categories sought in new additions to the city's mix.
"In the long term, this council will be very important to the Mayor and ensuring that our economic engine and our city is moving forward in the best way possible," Duff said.
"I think we're really poised for greatness once again," Rilling said. "We have to whet people's appetites, not only to move here, but to invest here, work here, send their children to our schools."
Members of the business council are:
- Harry Carey, Director of External Affairs for AT&T
- Mike Sutton, Partner, benefits Planning Services, LLC
- Mike DiScala, M.F. DiScala
- Tony Aitoro, Aitoro Appliance & Electronics
- LaTanya Langley, Senior General Counsel, Diageo North America
- Yvonne Hickey, GM of Public Sector Northeast, Xerox
- Stacy Lopez-Hascoe, Director, SoNo Corporate Suites
- Patricia Toni, Risk Manager, Norwalk Hoapital
- Irene Dixon, Director of Sales & Marketing, Hilton Garden Inn, Norwalk
- Olivia Dardy
- State Senator Bob Duff