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Economic help for Meriden during pandemic: city celebrates grand opening

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MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s unusual for grand openings to be happening during this pandemic, but that’s exactly what had people smiling behind their face masks Friday in Meriden.

“This is an exiting moment for the city of Meriden,” said Mayor Kevin Scarpati. “I think maybe this is a turning point for us to say you know what? Businesses are looking to expand. Businesses are looking to open.”

On this day, Lowe’s was coming back to Meriden, opening one of two outlet stores in the country. The new 30,000 sq. foot facility at 1201 East Main Street, marks the return of Lowe’s to Meriden after closing up and leaving nine years ago.

Mayor Scarpati tells News 8 that he expects it to be an economic shot in the arm for the city’s East Side.

“Oh there’s big buzz about this,” he said. “We expect this to be a big draw to help many businesses in this area.”

It’s already helped local painters, plumbers, and contractors who got the facility ready for the grand opening. It will help 20 store workers make ends meet.

Chris Frazza is one of those workers. He was laid off six months ago from his job in the hospitality industry.

“I actually hit a little depression,” Frazza said. “Because you’re used to working.”

He says this new job opportunity is like “getting a new breath of life.”

The mayor tells News 8 this new outlet store symbolizes a rebirth for part of Meriden and is one part of the plan to get more people back to work.

“We are looking to implement a grant program for small businesses and non profits who are suffering right now and can’t find ways to pay their bills,” said Mayor Scarpati. “So, we’re using some federal funds to help offset some of those expenses.”

A soft opening last week was so successful, store managers say they’re looking to hire ten more people.

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