NCDC: A partnership of city, local businesses helped restaurants open

THE DAY (May 28, 2020) — Reopening downtown restaurants for outside dining as the state eases COVID-19 restrictions proved to be a group effort in Norwich, with the city, local banks, a construction contractor, a waste removal company and even Frontier Communications helping to make it happen.

Norwich Community Development Corp. Senior Vice President Jason Vincent told the NCDC board of directors Thursday that efforts to open downtown restaurants to outside dining last week required a group effort of public and private entities. The city provided concrete barriers, traffic warning barrels and picnic tables at the start, and the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce and Global City Norwich loaned tents, Vincent said.

Several other businesses stepped up to donate supplies and services. Dime Bank purchased barrels of flowers and additional tents to enhance outdoor dining spaces, and Eastern Savings Bank quickly followed suit, buying outdoor dining tables and flowers, Vincent said.

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NCDC President Robert Mills to retire in July

THE DAY (May 28, 2020) — Norwich Community Development Corp. President Robert Mills will retire from the economic development agency July 31 after 12 years, reducing the agency’s staff to one full-time person.

Mills, 67, announced his retirement following the NCDC board of directors video conference meeting Thursday. The board met for an hour in executive session to discuss a personnel matter and did not discuss Mills’ departure in open session. The board has been discussing his position in executive session for the past several months. He said he has been working on a retirement plan for the past two years.

Mills’ departure will leave Senior Vice President Jason Vincent as the sole full-time staff member and apparent successor to Mills at NCDC and its Foundry 66 co-workspace. Vice President and Community Manager Jill Fritzsche left May 15 to become Killingly economic development director.

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Haitian flag raised in Norwich

THE BULLETIN (May 18, 2020) — Even though the yearly Haitian festival in Norwich is canceled due to the presence of COVID-19, Norwich Alderman Darrell Wilson said he and others wanted to show “our small piece appreciation and honor for such an important community in the City of Norwich.”

To commemorate the presence of the Haitian community in Norwich, a ceremony for Haitian National Flag Day was held Monday in front of the Norwich City Hall by the United Congregational Church. The U.S. flag and the Haitian flag flew next to each other.

“Haitians around the world celebrate National Flag Day, expressing their national pride, honoring the forefathers of the Nation, and replenishing their resolve for Haiti’s future in the face of their ancestors’ tremendous and unique accomplishment,” the website for the Haitian embassy in Washington, D.C., states.

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Norwich to mark Haitian Flag Day with simple ceremony Monday

THE DAY (May 16, 2020) — A muted celebration of Haitian Flag Day will take place Monday, starting with a morning raising of the Haitian flag in the plaza outside City Hall and an evening proclamation to be read by the City Council at its remote-access meeting broadcast.

Norwich Free Academy Haitian American students Allen and Alexander Dufort, recipients of the Martin Luther King scholarship, Norwich Alderman Derell Wilson and Haitian American Enock Petit-Home will participate in the 9:30 a.m. flag-raising ceremony. Global City Norwich, which has hosted Haitian festivals in downtown, is coordinating the program.

The proclamation, included as part of the City Council meeting agenda, will be read at the start of the 7:30 p.m. council meeting, to be broadcast on Comcast Channel 97 or by livestream on the city’s website, norwichct.org.

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Norwich Forms Task Force to Help Restaurants Reopen, Find Outdoor Space

NBC CONNECTICUT (May 13, 2020) — Restaurant owners in Norwich have spent the last two months changing the way they conduct business. The coronavirus shutdowns have prompted layoffs, takeout only meals and contactless delivery.

As the state is now entering a phase of reopening, the restaurant owners are working to conquer a new challenge: how to set up outdoor dining for the first time.

“We are going to try it,” said Justin Burrows, owner of La Stella Pizzeria in Downtown Norwich. “We are going to see how we can execute it.”

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NCDC vice president to become Killingly economic development director

THE DAY (May 13, 2020) —Jill Fritzsche, vice president of the Norwich Community Development Corp. and instrumental in getting the Foundry 66 shared workspace facility open and expanded, will leave the agency Friday to become economic development director in Killingly.

NCDC President Robert Mills announced Fritzsche’s departure Wednesday and said it’s a loss for the Norwich economic development agency, but a “great career opportunity” for Fritzsche.

“We’re going to need to find three people,” Mills said of the prospects of finding a replacement for Fritzsche.

Mills said NCDC will take its time to find a new replacement.

Fritzsche has served as vice president of economic development and the community manager of Foundry 66 for the past three years. During her tenure at NCDC, she oversaw the expansion of Foundry 66, tripling its occupancy and programming. She launched the creation of the pop-up shop concept for small retail ventures in the Sunlight Emporium Building of the complex, bringing retail back into the downtown.

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Locals cautious, but excited, for reopening

THE BULLETIN (May 1, 2020) — Bozrah resident Charlie Rutchick believes the time to start reopening businesses is “past due.”

“I’ve got kids sitting at home, going broke,” he said.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced his plan Thursday evening to reopen businesses in Connecticut. Starting on May 20, a variety of businesses, including retail establishments, hair and nail salons, and various forms of outdoor recreation and activity, will begin to reopen. The plan is conditional based on whether the number of cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations from it continue to drop, among other factors.

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Norwich officials trying to stay in touch with businesses through COVID-19 crisis

THE DAY (April 7, 2020) — The COVID-19 picture for Norwich businesses is predictably bleak, with restaurants struggling, people working from home and even those allowed to remain open seeing supply chains cut off and business dwindle.

Officials at the Norwich Community Development Corp. have been contacting local businesses and landlords to try to inform them of the ever-changing array of state shutdown orders, state and federal relief packages and local support programs as the COVID-19 crisis continues into the foreseeable future.

An open Facebook group, Norwich COVID-19 Business Resources at bit.ly/norwichcv19fb, shares information on everything from COVID-19 prevention to business relief programs available and ideas from similar Facebook pages and groups for helping businesses.

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The Royal Punjabi providing free meals for the community

THE BULLETIN (April 3, 2020) — The Norwich restaurant is giving free hot vegetarian meals to the community to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gurpreet Singh, owner and manager of The Royal Punjabi Restaurant in Norwich, wants to help the community for as long as he can, especially while the COVID-19 response leaves people out of work.

“I’ll try to do my best,” he said.

The Royal Punjabi is serving free Grab and Go Hot Meals, on Mondays and Fridays, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., just outside the restaurant on 198 Main St. The meals are vegetarian.

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Norwich community supports each other in tough times

THE BULLETIN (March 27, 2020) — The Coronavirus pandemic has offered plenty of trying circumstances, and media coverage of it. It can get depressing for those living it, reading about it, and even writing it.

But this week, Jason Vincent, the senior vice president of The Norwich Community Development Corporation, was eager to share the good news on Norwich’s response to the coronavirus.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world right now,” he said.

In an email that was sent to Norwich Mayor Peter Nystrom and members of the Norwich business community, Vincent highlighted responses being taken by the community to support one another during these trying times.

“When you see your neighbors stepping up and doing what they need to do, they’re the real heroes in a time like this,” he said.

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