Norwich seeks path to cash in on its Opportunity Zones

NORWICH — Three Norwich neighborhoods qualify for a new federal economic development program and Tuesday morning, dozens of city and state officials, business leaders and community partners met at City Hall for a presentation on how the city can capitalize on the opportunity.

Federal lawmakers in 2017 created the federal Opportunity Zones program for investors to re-invest unrealized capital gains into qualified Opportunity Funds — private investment vehicles dedicated to community, business, real estate and economic development activities in low-income communities.

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Local swim school building permanent home in Occum

NORWICH — After two decades of hopping from hotel pool to hotel pool, a local swim academy is building its own permanent facility in Occum.

Bubbles to Butterflies was founded in 1998 by Margee Charron of Baltic, and in early November, the company broke ground on its first permanent home — at 61 Taftville-Occum Road.

Originally, Charron was teaching swim from her backyard pool, but the new facility will be 6,000 square feet including a 30 foot by 60 foot warm-water teaching pool, as well as a climate-controlled viewing area that can also function as a rental party room.

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Ponemah Mill celebrates first phase completion, start of second

Norwich — Kathy and Kevin Jesmonth were at their Colchester home watching TV news on May 9, 2017, when a news feature about the $30 million transformation of the formerly vacant giant Ponemah Mill in Taftville came on and the reporter described the plan to create 116 high-ceiling, loft apartments.

The recent empty-nesters looked at each other simultaneously and within minutes agreed they were ready to sell their house of 31 years and start a new chapter in their lives. Kathy being a sixth-grade teacher in Colchester public schools and Kevin the shop manager at Grader Jewelers in Groton, a new apartment in Norwich with easy access to Route 2 or Interstate 395 would be just fine.

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City Council pitched $8.47 million revitalization program

NORWICH — The City Council is considering a $8.47 million bond ordinance for Norwich’s economic revitalization initiative to spur economic development in the city.

At a special meeting of the council on Tuesday, Norwich Community Development Corporation president Robert Mills presented a proposal for an expansion of the city’s downtown revitalization bond program.

Mills provided statistics and data on the status of the $3.38 million bond program approved in 2010. Mills said that $2.47 million of that money has been spent or committed, resulting in $22.8 million of economic impact to Norwich. He said that investment has resulted in 124,000 square feet of improved space across 17 downtown properties.

“We have put nearly $23 million into the local economy over the life of these projects,” Mills said. “That’s a return of $9.22 to our economy for each dollar invested.”

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Norwich City Council to consider expansion to downtown bond program

NORWICH — The City Council will meet on Tuesday for a special meeting to discuss the possibility for expansion of Norwich’s downtown revitalization bond program.

Mayor Peter Nystrom said that during Tuesday’s meeting, the Norwich Community Development Corp. will be presenting to the City Council a review of the current downtown bond program, the impact it has had on the downtown area, and determining whether to ask for voter approval for an expansion of the current bonding program.

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Norwich City Council to consider second revitalization bond

Norwich — The City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to hear presentations on Mayor Peter Nystrom’s proposal to seek voter approval for a second economic revitalization bond, possibly totaling $8.5 million, and to expand the incentive program outside the downtown.

Voters approved a $3.38 million downtown revitalization bond program in November 2010 that funded a matching grant program for building upgrades, a lease rebate program to boost building occupancy and a loan program for development. The programs are administered by the Norwich Community Development Corp., the city’s economic development agency.

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NCDC, pub owner honored for contributions to downtown Norwich revival

Norwich — In the summer that will mark the 30th anniversary of the annual July 4 Norwich Harbor downtown fireworks festival, downtown business owner Paul Siefert had big words to say about the city’s urban center.

“I moved here in 1980,” the owner of Billy Wilson’s Ageing Still said Thursday evening at an event to honor his contributions to downtown Norwich. “This is as optimistic as I’ve ever been about downtown Norwich.”

Siefert, who purchased Billy Wilson’s at 57 Broadway in 2009, and the Norwich Community Development Corp. were selected by the Norwich Events Organization for the annual Ron Aliano Memorial Service Award for their distinguished service in the development of the city. Both were honored during a gala at the Marina at American Wharf on Thursday, the major fundraiser event for the fireworks festival….

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The Chelsea Groton Foundation makes $100K grant for establishing a Global City Initiative — supporting the revitalization of Downtown Norwich

NORWICH, Connecticut (April 12, 2018) – Today, The Chelsea Groton Foundation announced funding for a multi-year project of supporting the revitalization of Downtown Norwich through a Global City Initiative. This multi-cultural program will assist existing efforts to bring people together to participate in rich, diverse, multicultural experiences that the residents of Norwich and its surrounding communities have to offer. The Initiative will also assist entrepreneurs who are interested in occupying storefront spaces in the Downtown area.

“Just like we’ve seen in many small towns throughout New England, the more activity there is in downtown areas, the better the commerce is. Similarly, having attractive and interesting storefronts helps to drive activity. What’s unique to Norwich however, is the incredible cultural diversity of its’ residents,” explained Michael Rauh, President and CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank.

“Norwich is such a special place. Our goal with funding this program is to capitalize on the wonderful diversity, beautiful architecture and incredible waterfronts that are all already present in Norwich,” continued Rauh. “We’re thrilled to be working with NCDC on the project, and hope that the Global City Initiative will help to bring together existing programming, improve awareness of all Norwich has to offer, and revitalize Downtown Norwich through multicultural events, festivals, and small business activity.”

The principal objectives of the Global City Initiative are to:

1) engage the strength of a diversity of population uniquely available in Norwich to the benefit of all,

2) to fill empty spaces in a very impactful area of Norwich, concentrated in the downtown, and

3) activate multiple different cultures into being a critical part of the resurgence of their new home community.

The overall project will occur in many phases over the next few years. Initially, the Chelsea Groton Foundation is partnering with NCDC to focus on increasing demand through cultural activities and by increasing occupancy of retail spaces downtown. Demand will increase by enhancing existing parades, ethnic food offerings, art galleries, and other special events to ensure they have a larger, more positive economic impact on the community, and by introducing new cultural celebrations in order to improve the vibrancy of Downtown Norwich.  In order to increase occupancy of retail spaces, NCDC and the Chelsea Groton Foundation committee will identify the properties that should have a retail presence, determine what needs to be done to make them each viable spaces and assist entrepreneurs in getting set up in those spaces.

“NCDC is the development agency for the City of Norwich and has downtown revitalization as a key mission component” commented Bob Mills of NCDC. “This new funding and focus will add a creative new dimension to filling spaces and making Downtown more vibrant for everyone.”

Norwich Releases “Doing Business in Norwich A Resource Guide”

The City of Norwich is proud to announce the release of the Doing Business in Norwich Guide.  This guide takes a process that has not always been well defined and creates a map for businesses to follow.  The guide is the culmination of a year of work between the City of Norwich, Norwich Public Utilities, NCDC and The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The City is proud to be able to collaborate to develop a process that is easily understood and better positions businesses to be able to open or expand in the City,” said Mayor Hinchey.  The booklet, which has been printed, is currently available at NCDC and City Hall as well as digitally on the City, NCDC, and the Greater Norwich Area Chamber websites.  This guide will assist businesses in writing a business plan and working through approval processes, to hiring employees and scheduling a ribbon cutting.  (Find the guide digitally here: bit.ly/1QxyHbi)

“This is a much needed piece of the puzzle,” says Robert Mills, NCDC’s President.  “We frequently have people asking about the process, which can be confusing.  We want businesses to be confident with the procedure and be able to walk away with the ability to complete the project. Helping business needs a team approach and all the players need to be using the same playbook.  Now that is possible.”

“We are very pleased to partner up with the City, NCDC and NPU on this guide,” says Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Andrew Nollman.  “This document is designed to help businesses navigate through those hurdles that we’ve all gone through, as the new business is getting ready to launch.  Our hope is that this document helps makes that process smoother and ultimately helps more businesses have quicker success.”

This guide is now available for all businesses currently in the City and any new businesses thinking of expanding to Norwich.

Norwich Named One of Countries Best Minor League Baseball Towns

 

Thomas Dodd Stadium photo courtesy of CT Tigers_thumb_201312021626348880

One of Norwich’s best kept secrets has always been it’s minor league team at Dodd Stadium.  It is a secret no more!  The Connecticut Tigers a minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers has been named one of America’s Best Minor League Baseball Teams.  How did they factor all of this you may wonder?  The answer may surprise you! The authors took into account Violent Crime, Property Crime, Disposable Income, Unemployment, and Dining and Entertainment. They also looked at team win percentage, stadium experience and minor league class.  Norwich came in 6th overall.  We recommend you take a look at the article yourself.  Congratulations Connecticut Tigers and City of Norwich!

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