January 21, 2011
In our market economy, businesses fly or they die. We who live in small towns feel it acutely when a store folds, leaving a vacancy both on the street and in ourselves. And guilt. Could we have done more? Last month my favorite local boutique closed its doors. It was owned by a very young woman, and though I don’t know the circumstances of her closing, I remember when she opened, and my admiration verging on awe for the self-confidence she demonstrated in starting her own business.
So in resuming this column, I expected to write about how a small group of very accomplished women were helping to avoid the depressing and disheartening sight of “Going out of Business” signs. But the funny thing about journalism, even an opinion space like this one, is that sometimes the story you set out to write will change itself for the better. Because it turns out, this is not a story about empty office space, but about the ideas and drive that will continue to occupy it, but sometimes, needs a little coaxing. Which is why, when I sat down with the four remarkable women who comprise the Litchfield-based Women’s Enterprise Initiative (WEI) to talk about their work for our local economy, the group’s founder, Anthea Disney of Litchfield, quickly set me straight.
“We’re not an economic development corporation,” she said, “We’re a group of women who really just want to help other women.”