Editorial: Learning from GE

Last week’s announcement that General Electric would move its corporate headquarters from Fairfield to Boston sent shock waves through a state and region that still has not fully recovered from the recession of 2008.

Much has been said about why GE chose to leave, and there is plenty of blame being spread for this latest economic calamity. But now, since GE is not going to change course, it is time to see what we can learn from this. Here, in Wilton.

Wilton cannot change Connecticut’s business tax policy, but it can make itself more attractive to businesses by making itself more attractive to people who might work in those businesses. It has been reported extensively that younger workers do not want long commutes. Many do not even want to own cars. Nor do they seem to be interested in big homes with high-maintenance property.

Therefore, access to transportation is important. Wilton has an advantage in that regard, with two train stations and extensive trails for biking. These advantages should be exploited by making opportunities for transit-oriented development a priority.

Workers are also seeking amenities they can access on their lunch hour or free time — such as fitness opportunities. With its wealth of fitness clubs and the Norwalk River Valley Trail, Wilton is well-situated to exploit these outlets.

Perhaps most importantly, when businesses that cater to consumers come to Wilton, they need to be supported. It is easy to talk the “shop local” talk, but more of us need to walk that walk.

Just as we need a diverse business climate — Wilton does not want to be a “company” town — we need a diverse population to set it apart from its suburban neighbors and invite commercial investment.