A Sit Down with Jeff Blayman

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jeff: I’m a life long Norwich resident with a passion for skateboarding that has encompassed so
many aspects of my life. I started skating when I was just a boy and after 32 years of sidewalk
surfing I still find it a thrill.
 
Q: How long have you been in business?
Jeff: I have had many jobs within the skateboard industry ranging from Summer camp instructor,
freelance videographer and at one point I had the pleasure of running an indoor skateboard park
franchise. This is what led to my current business of running my small national brand Worship
Skateboards, which started in 2003 and led to my opening the Ideal Skate Shop here in my
hometown of Norwich in 2004.
 
 
Q: What inspired you to open a skate shop?
Jeff: Oddly enough, it was never my plan to have a store. I was merely trying to help local kids
get their hands on my American made product and unfortunately there was no outlet in the
immediate area. The inspiration for the board brand however was more of a passion project that
grew out of not liking the trend of other companies writing their name on boards as if it were a
soda can. I just wanted to see the art of skateboard graphics return to being subtle messages and
dramatic art instead of corporate branding. Happily, my brand sells to almost 80 skate shops
around the country. What I love about Worship skateboards is that you can hang these
skateboards on your wall or destroy them having fun as they were intended and its absolutely
beautiful either way. I love seeing people admire the boards in art galleries as well as out in the
streets.
 
 
Q: What has been your proudest accomplishment?  
Jeff: It was again just a happy accident that became another passion project. About 5 years ago
we did a single skateboard lesson for a child on the Autism spectrum. Now years later, we have
partnered a local Non profit and created the Success on Skateboards (SOS) program. Our focus
is offering skate lessons to children on the Spectrum and those with sensory disabilities. Besides
the unbridled joy you see in the children’s faces, we find the added benefits are improved
communication, balance, trust, and independence. The same passion for the program is exuded
by the many volunteers for whom we are eternally grateful.
 
 
Q: What do you love most about Norwich?
Jeff:  Simply put, Norwich is a blank canvas. For as much as it has a glorious past, it also has a
bright future that we are constantly creating. You may have noticed that the current level of
economic development is overflowing. From civic work projects, to beautification, to multitudes
of small business’ eager to contribute to this Rose city renaissance.
 
 

Q: If someone was trying to start up their own business, what advice would you give them?
Jeff: Take the leap. The fear and trepidation that you have is normal and is truly a motivating
factor. If you translate that feeling into excitement rather than anxiety you’ll experience many a
sleepless night grinding out details and looking forward to the ideas coming to fruition. Nothing
happens when you stand still and thus momentum should be your goal.
 
 
Q: What are you most looking forward to within the next year?
Jeff: I am looking forward to seeing Norwich grow as a community and also as a destination
location that people want to travel to from abroad. I love the idea that Global City Norwich with
the help of NCDC has been exploring the international traditions and cultures through street
festivals. It’s these type of events that bring thousands of people to the city to celebrate Norwich
Thereby exposing people to all of these fascinating changes that are happening currently. There’s
no better marketing or exposure than a festival or parade putting real feet to pavement and
casting all eyes on our city center.
And as organizations in town are able to put on more events to create more reasons to celebrate
Norwich… we will continue to advance our city and celebrate it’s diversity. WE are Norwich
 
 
The Ideal Skate Shop is located at 175 Central Ave, Norwich, CT 06360. 860-334-5277 for info.

Norwich mayor urges council to support economic development proposals

Norwich – Mayor Peter Nystrom warned fellow members of the City Council Monday to “keep your weekends open” for council workshops on issues including reviving his proposed economic development bond, creating a charter revision commission and discussions on waterfront development.

Nystrom delivered his sixth State of the City address as mayor Monday, mixing a celebration of development accomplishments over the past year with calls for city leaders to work together on development issues in the year ahead.

“It should be noted that change through economic development is a long-term proposition that takes focused teamwork and dedication to implement and benefit from,” Nystrom said. “We have a talented team of professionals, passionate and dedicated leadership, a highly flexible and resourceful utility, and, a community ready to embrace change.”

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

City officials thrilled to see Hale Mill project come to life

NORWICH BULLETIN (December 19, 2018) — A multimillion-dollar development project proposing to bring an upscale hotel to Yantic may break ground as early as spring.

The Commission on the City Plan Tuesday unanimously approved both the site development plan and the special permit request for a proposed 151-room hotel with several amenities including an indoor pool, restaurant, banquet facility and recreational space at an abandoned mill building in Yantic.

The building, known as Hale Mill, was originally built in 1864 as a textile mill and sits at 140 Yantic Road, across from the Yantic Volunteer Fire Department. According to records at City Hall, the buyer, Mill Development CT LLC, of Woodside, N.Y., purchased the 10-acre property in June for $826,000.

Click here to read the full article on the Norwich Bulletin

Norwich offers Narcan training to downtown business owners

Norwich – Angelo Callis wore a Santa hat and a bright red scarf and carried a sack as he and two assistants visited downtown businesses Monday.

They weren’t carrying holiday presents to shop owners and businesses, but what they did have saves lives.

The three members of Norwich Youth and Family Service’s Partnership for Success program brought Narcan kits and free training to businesses interested in learning how to administer the opioid overdose-reversing drug and stocking it in their establishments.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Global City Norwich celebrates the city’s history with Candy Cocoa and Coffee Festival

NORWICH — As part of a new directive to bring more people downtown, Global City Norwich not only celebrated the coming holidays with many activities, but also celebrated the city’s history.

Sunday’s Candy, Cocoa and Coffee Festival sported an array of local vendors, including the Blazin’ BBQ food truck, Opal’s Kitchen and myriad small jewelry and baked goods vendors. There were activities for kids such as rock painting, gingerbread house building, and an appearance from Santa Claus.

They created a spectacle with elves walking around, and even had a few on tall stilts dancing to the music in the street.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Essex chemical engineering firm expanding to Norwich

Norwich — An Essex-based chemical engineering research and development firm has purchased a vacant 76,000-square-foot building in the business park for $1.9 million and plans to launch an advanced manufacturing arm of the business there once renovations are completed.

Nalas Engineering Services Inc. of the Centerbrook section of Essex purchased the building formerly occupied by Gunther International LTD, at 1 Winnenden Road at the corner of New Park Avenue in the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park. The transaction was recorded in the Norwich land records Monday, with the city receiving $9,660 in property conveyance taxes.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

The Chelsea Groton Foundation makes 2nd $100K Grant to Support Global City Norwich

Additional Gift is to Focus on Funding for Entrepreneurship & Small Business

NORWICH, Connecticut (December 10, 2018) – The Chelsea Groton Foundation recently presented a grant donation of $100,000 to NCDC’s Global City Norwich program, to be used specifically for assisting multicultural entrepreneurs and small business owners who are interested in occupying storefront spaces in the Downtown area, or who currently own businesses and are looking to grow.

Funds will be used to identify and train entrepreneurs, build partnerships in order to help entrepreneurs find appropriate storefront spaces and funding for their businesses, and create a thriving downtown environment that will ensure increased traffic in area businesses.

“Since the launch of Global City Norwich, we’ve already seen a positive impact on the Norwich community. People came out in droves for the festivals that were hosted this summer and fall. Now, the Chelsea Groton Foundation is thrilled to give another grant to Global City to really focus on developing and assisting multicultural entrepreneurs and small business owners, an area that’s very important to us,” shared Michael Rauh, President and CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank and President of the Chelsea Groton Foundation. “Small business activity is critical to the success of any downtown area, and it will be no different in Norwich. There are incredibly talented entrepreneurs and small business owners in Norwich and the surrounding areas, and we’re looking forward to supporting them through this grant.”

“We believe our business community should be a reflection of our diverse and vibrant community. The Global City Norwich program is focused on removing the barriers to entrepreneurship through collaborations, business education and shared resources. The talent and our future business leaders live amongst us and this program lends to pave the road to business ownership,” explained Bob Mills, President of NCDC.

The first grant presented by the Chelsea Groton Foundation was to assist with the launch and development of Global City Norwich, a multi-cultural program that brings people together to participate in rich, diverse, multicultural experiences that the residents of Norwich and its surrounding communities have to offer.

To view parts of the grant presentation, and to gain a better understanding of the positive impact Global City Norwich has and will continue to have on area business owners, watch this video.

About the Chelsea Groton Foundation
The Chelsea Groton Foundation was formed in June 1998 as a Section 501(c) (3) organization. Initially endowed with a $2 million donation from Chelsea Groton Bank, and recently gifted an additional $5 million from the Bank, the Foundation has, to date, awarded over $3.2 million in grants to hundreds of scientific, educational and charitable organizations located within the Bank’s market area. To learn more, visit www.chelseagroton.com/CGFoundation.

About NCDC / Foundry66
NCDC is a private 501(c) (3) development corporation founded to improve the economic condition of Norwich, its Downtown, waterfront and Business Park. Foundry66 is a co-working space dedicated to helping create and support microenterprise businesses in the area. To find out more about us and our mission, please visit www.askncdc.com and www.foundry66.com.

Business Spotlight: The Royal Punjabi

This summer, Norwich welcomed yet another new business: The Royal Punjabi! The Indian and chicken wing restaurant opened its doors July 16, 2018 and has been well received by the Norwich community—including NCDC! We highly recommend checking it out (if you have not done so already!) CLICK HERE to read the more about The Royal Punjabi opening!

A Sit Down with Julio Cancho


Q: Where were you born & raised?
Julio: Peru, South America.

Q: What is your role at Canggio?
Julio: I’m the owner, the executive chef, dishwasher, referee… everything you can possibly think of.

Q: When did you open Canggio Restaurant?
Julio: August 21, 2017

Q: When did you enter the restaurant business?
Julio: Right after high school, I started helping my dad in a restaurant. My first job was as a dishwasher at a restaurant in West Springfield, MA. From there, I began working for all kinds of restaurants—French cuisine in West Hartford, Mediterranean in Bloomfield, Greek/Italian in Hartford.

Q: What was your most fulfilling moment working in the food industry?
Julio: When I worked at J Restaurant and Bar in Hartford, my first executive chef job, I got to cook for a lot of people I never in my life would have imagined I’d have the opportunity to cook for. I’ve cooked for Andy Grammer, Jason Alexander, Bob Newhart, and John Leguizamo.

Q: Why did you decide to open in Norwich?
Julio: People here are great. Everyone gives you their hand and is so ready to help you succeed. One thing that we, as Norwich, have is that we work together.

Q: If someone was trying to open up their own business or restaurant, what advice would you give them?
Julio: Don’t give up. It’s easy to give up or walk-away. But follow your goals; you need to give yourself time to make it happen. There have been times that I’ve felt that it’s not worth the struggle, but at the end of the day, when I see customers loving the dishes we make for them that they come back for more—that makes it for me. You’re going to have people there to support you, keep working towards what you believe in.

Q: What are you most looking forward to within the next year or two?
Julio: Within the next two years, 1) I want to grow Canggio and make it self-sustaining with the crew that I have and 2) I want to open a prohibition-type bar (speakeasy)…with elegant appetizers and secret entrances, hopefully right here in Norwich. I like the idea of it because I feel it’s new and innovative, and it offers something different. Norwich has given me so much; I feel it’s important to give back to the community that believed in me in the first place.

Canggio’s can be found at 20 Lafayette Street, Norwich, CT 06360.

Featured Story: Foundry 66

Foundry 66 has opened its second floor! The addition features two large conference rooms, a yoga and dance studio, and media room. The new space features six offices and 12 designated desks. The design and color were inspired by Sedona Mountain Skyline. (We felt after walking up two flights of stairs you should be rewarded with a delightful array of colors & textures much like the scenery in Sedona!) F66 is hosting a variety of workshops, including Small Business Academy (collaboration with Liberty Bank) and Fall Lunch and Learns, “Creating Your Brand” and “Interactive Enneagram Workshops.”

To schedule a tour of Foundry 66 or to inquire about upcoming workshops, please contact Jill Fritzsche: jfritzsche@askncdc.com or call 860-887-6964.