Development Spotlight: Westledge Luxury Apartments

Over twelve years ago a fire devastated the former Peachtree apartment complex on Westledge Drive in Norwich. Under new ownership, Westledge Luxury Apartments has begun construction on the first phase (60 units) of its 120-unit complex. The design for Westledge maximizes the prior footprint to offer two- and three-bedroom units, after receiving a variance from the City. These garden style apartments will feature high-end finishes including granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, central air conditioning, and private decks. There will also be 30 detached garages available for residents. The grounds will have pet areas, open lawn spaces, and a clubhouse with a gym and an outdoor pool.

The development team at Pledge Property Management is excited about this latest undertaking, projected to come online in 2021.  The Pledge Property brand encompasses a real estate division, as well as a construction and development team. Pledge is owned and operated by two generations of the Gebbie family, proud to celebrate their 50th year.  They currently manage over 350 units in Eastern Connecticut, 280 of which they privately own.

“We’re really excited to bring the Westledge project to Norwich,” shares Darwin Gebbie, who bought his first apartment house in 1970. “And to now have the family continue that, it’s really special to have another generation involved.”

The Gebbie trio of father Darwin, along with his son Alex Gebbie and wife Jessica, are proud of the connection they have fostered with their management team. “Our staff are our extended family,” Darwin shares. They attribute much of their success to their strong vendor relationships which include: Yantic River Consulting, KML Architects, Coit Excavating, Zlotnick Construction, D.B. Lunt, LLC, Air We Are Heating & Cooling LLC, James Carboni Plumbing & Heating Inc. and The Falcon Group (MEP Engineer). 

The City of Norwich has been instrumental to the development process. “The City has just been great,” Jessica shares. “They’ve really helped us bring this project to life.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, the building department has been available remotely to help the team maintain momentum on site. The City has also offered Zoom meetings to continue to meet virtually.

Westledge has also partnered with Norwich Public Utilities to offer electric car charging stations and incorporates energy-efficient features throughout the complex. Dime Bank and Ion Bank are providing construction to permanent financing for this project.  

To learn more about the Westledge project, please contact Jessica Gebbie at 860-887-2792 or [email protected], or visit www.pledgepropertymanagement.com. 

Global City Norwich Receives Statewide Recognition

(April 2020) This month, the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) announced that the Global City Norwich Program is a recipient of this year’s Awards of Excellence. Global City Norwich, being recognized for its excellence in Events & Programming, is one of eight initiatives from communities across Connecticut set to receive the award. 

According to the CMSC, the annual Awards of Excellence was established in 2003 to “recognize outstanding projects, individuals and partnerships in community efforts to bring traditional downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts back to life, socially and economically.”

Global City Norwich is a multi-year project supporting the revitalization of Downtown Norwich and is funded by the Chelsea Groton Foundation, whose mission is to support the ongoing commitment in partnership for the long-term growth of the community. 

“I can think of fewer programs more deserving of this award than Global City Norwich,” comments Michael Rauh, President and CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank. “Stimulating economic activity in our historic Downtown while engaging with broader cultural communities who call Norwich home is exactly what Chelsea Groton Foundation is proud to support.” Over the last two years, the program has hosted more than a dozen cultural experiences in Downtown Norwich, including festivals celebrating Peruvian, Polish, Dominican, and Cape Verdean cultures. 

“It is an honor to receive this recognition from the Connecticut Main Street Center,” says Global City Norwich Liaison Suki Lagrito, who has led the charge for the Norwich initiative since its inception in 2018. “But this recognition isn’t about our efforts,” Lagrito remarks, ”It’s really a testament to the cultures and communities that have embraced Global City and have supported us in enriching Norwich’s economic activity and have leaned into celebrating its overall vibrancy.”   

In addition to celebrating Norwich’s diverse community, the initiative has also partnered with the Norwich Community Development Corporation (NCDC) in an effort to increase the occupancy of storefronts downtown. Through various educational programming and outreach efforts, Global City Norwich is attributed to about 30% of new businesses in Downtown Norwich since 2018, leveraging over $300,000 in economic investment and spending. 

As for the program’s next steps, Lagrito and NCDC will continue to support cultural groups and provide business education programs, with a renewed focus on cultivating spaces in Downtown Norwich. According to NCDC President Robert Mills, programs such as Vanilla Boxing will help to activate vacant spaces by removing the barriers preventing entrepreneurs from moving in. “We’re also in the process of sourcing entrepreneurial curiosity through working labs with local high school and college students,” Mills shares. 

Joining Norwich among the communities with organizations and initiatives receiving recognition are Bridgeport, New Britain, Manchester, Rockville, Simsbury, Waterbury, and Windsor Locks.

CMSC will present each award locally in the community in which the project is located later this year.   

To learn more about Global City Norwich, please contact Suki Lagrito at [email protected] or 860.304.8505.

To learn more about the CMSC Awards of Excellence, please contact Marketing & Development Director Christine Schilke at [email protected] or 860.280.2356.

Help Line Now Available for Spanish Speaking Businesses

(April 2020) NCDC is happy to announce a partnership with the City of New London that will allow our Spanish speaking business owners a ‘Help Line’ to navigate available relief programs. Please call 860-437-6309 or email [email protected] to make an appointment. Now is the time where partnerships are vital in getting information to all of our small business/ non-profit owners. We are all in this together.

NCDC se complace en anunciar una colaboración con la ciudad de New London que les permitirá a nuestros propietarios de pequeñas empresas de habla española a utilizar el Centro de Ayuda para evaluar los programas de asistencia disponibles. Por favor llamar al 860-437-6309 o enviar un correo electrónico a [email protected] para hacer una cita. Este es el momento vital para proveerles información a todos los propietarios de pequeñas empresas y organizaciones sin fines de lucro. Estamos juntos en esto.

Business Spotlight: Nalas Engineering

Nalas Engineering Services, Inc. started as a chemical engineering and chemistry contract research organization offering scalable solutions for critical materials for the US DoD and DoE. Being in close proximity to the many New England based Pharma and biotech companies, they were able to expand its customer base into this sector, as well as petroleum and other specialty chemical companies. In 2015, Nalas established a kilo-lab for scale-up of intermediate quantities of non-commodity chemical products.

Nalas Engineering Services, Inc. is located in the business park, at 1 Winnenden Road, Norwich CT. The industrial property offers 75,000 SF on 24 acres offering limitless possibilities for future expansion and growth.

The Nalas facility, purchased in December 2018 through financial assistance of the CT Department of Economic and Community Development (CT DECD), is just off of 395 and not far from I-95—a convenient drive for many customers based in the New England area. The Norwich manufacturing facility allows for operations expansion into commercial production with a focus on advanced and sustainable manufacturing. Nalas is a Corning certified laboratory, offering onsite training and product demonstrations for Corning’s Advanced-Flow Reactor (AFR) platform. At Norwich, they will be offering more training capabilities to its customers, local colleges and inquiring vendors.

Nalas offers wide expertise and capabilities which allows quick demonstrations for a technology or provision of rapid process development solutions for transition back to their customers. Their customers often visit the facility to witness their optimized processes, receive training on tools or certain state of the art equipment, or training in areas of expertise such as process safety, continuous processing, crystallization, and even drying.

Through the support of the DoD SBIR program, Nalas has been researching low-cost chemistry to produce CL-20 – the most powerful explosive known to man! The company is excited about this research initiative and the potential contributions to the DoD.

Being centrally located in CT, Nalas also plans for its new home to become a future site for chemical engineering and chemistry STEM programs tailored for local high school and college students. In collaboration with the State of CT and its university system, we plan to offer trainings and workshops designed to develop the state’s next generation of scientists and engineers, building a pipeline of talent that they hope will seek jobs within CT. 

The Norwich facility has since been undergoing extensive renovations, and there are plans to launch an advanced manufacturing arm of the business in 2020 once renovations are complete. 

Nalas has steadily grown since its inception in 2008, averaging 50 employees in just the last decade. This number includes year-round interns and co-op opportunities, which Nalas is committed to investing in—keeping young scientists in CT. It was with the relocation to Norwich that affords Nalas the opportunity to double their workforce in the next 10 years.

Learn more about Nalas at www.nalasengineering.com, or connect with them on LinkedIn or Facebook. Prefer something more personal? Call Nalas at 860-581-8477 and ask to schedule a tour or speak with CEO Jerry Salan, President Dave am Ende, or CTO Matt Jorgensen.

City of Norwich Receives Grant Extension and Seeks Additional Sites for Brownfield Assessments

In late 2016, the City of Norwich was awarded a $384,000 brownfields assessment grant ($185,000 for petroleum sites and $199,000 for hazard substance sites) from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The funding allows the City, utilizing its consultant Tighe & Bond, to perform Phase I through Phase III environmental assessments and remediation planning on an undetermined number of commercial and non-residential sites through-out the City. Recently, the City was notified by EPA that the grant would be extended for an additional nine-months, to September 30, 2020, to continue to provide no-cost environmental assessments for brownfield sites that qualify. In response to this announcement, the City is continuing to solicit interest in the program from owners who are actively looking to redevelop their property in the near future.

Norwich, a city with significant industrial heritage, encourages remediation and redevelopment of brownfields sites to contribute to its overall improved health and the vitality of the community. A “brownfield” is an abandoned, vacant, or underutilized property where redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of contamination. For more information, please contact Deanna Rhodes, AICP, City of Norwich Director of Planning & Neighborhood Services at 860/823-3767 or by email at [email protected]

A Sit Down with Jason Vincent

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in economic development.

A: I was born in Plainfield, CT. I’m a city planner by training. I’ve worked that community, for the town of Stonington and around the state of Connecticut, as a consultant. In a nutshell, planning is about trying to imagine a future condition a community would like to achieve and then helping them get to that place. What I’ve learned is that the planning role is really about economic development. It’s about trying to attract wealth to a community and retain that wealth. To do that at its highest level is to work with the business community and understand what stresses they have and what’s preventing them from investing. My first exposure to practical economic development arose when I had the chance to work with NCDC years ago. I was able to work with business people and understand why they make the decisions they’re making, and how to evaluate the value of an investment. If you understand those decisions, and market forces, you can then help attract new growth to a community. 

 

Q: When did you first become involved with NCDC? 

A: I first joined NCDC in the summer of 2012. I quickly learned that we needed to help businesses communicate their value. Many had plans, but not the sort that a bank or state agency is looking to see. I had previously never run a business, so I didn’t know how to get a business off the ground. By working with NCDC from 2012 to 2016, I was helping other business people succeed at developing their plans. I knew how to read profit & loss and cash flow sheets from having been on non-profit boards, but I didn’t know some of the missing pieces – like understanding the customer dynamics and the market forces that go into a business. Working with business owners taught me how to open a business, which in turn helps me teach entrepreneurs how to open their own business. 

 

Q: What do you love most about working in economic development in Southeastern CT?

A: I love helping small business owners achieve what their vision and goals are—any opportunity you can help them take their idea and implement it is an exciting process. Whether it’s government, an individual, or a corporation, I find that helping people get through a process that they might not necessarily know how to navigate is the most exciting part of the job. 

 

Q: What would you consider your proudest accomplishment in your career thus far? 

A: Uncle D’s Blazin’ BBQ. They were a food truck looking to create a brick and mortar, and we tried to recruit them to several different locations in the city until they finally found a place that made sense for them. We helped them develop a business plan so they could effectively communicate what they were trying to accomplish. And now for 3 years, they’ve been operating as both a brick and mortar and a food truck. It’s really exciting to me to see that type of project happen.

 

Q: If someone came to you looking to start up their own business, what would be your first piece of advice? 

A: Find out what the unknowns are. Every project fails because of unknown unknowns, essentially risk. There are some “unknowns” that you kind of know you don’t know, like what your electric bill will be every month, and then there are some things called contingencies in most projects. The more things you know and the more you can discover in a project – before you start, the more you can reduce the unknowns. So I recommend doing your homework. Opening your business without doing your homework is one of the things that makes you vulnerable to things you didn’t know or expect to happen. It takes a lot of patience to do your homework, but it’s absolutely necessary.  

 

Q: How does NCDC help people get their business off the ground?

A: We offer a lot of business training programs in partnership with local banks and the Greater Norwich Chamber of Commerce. We’re connecting people to banks and helping to teach them everything from how to write business plans, how to do a market analysis to understand their customers, and how to think about the experience that they’re going to provide. NCDC are here to provide mentoring in the long-term. 

 

Q: What do you love most about Norwich? 

A: The history of this community is amazing. You can see remnants of history throughout the city, with Norwichtown being a Revolutionary War-era neighbrohood and Taftville, Greenville and Downtown being this Industrial Revolution/Civil War neighborhood. You see all of American history here to some degree. Norwich is also an origin story for so many people. Their families may have moved here maybe as first-generation immigrants, and this is a place they consider their home even if they don’t live here today. Those are just a few of the things I love about this place.

 

Q: What are you most looking forward to in 2020? 

A: We have a couple great ideas on how to generate new business opportunities in the city. I’m really looking forward to developing those plans to address brownfields and vanilla-boxing some spaces to try and create additional places for entrepreneurs. There have been 22 net businesses which have opened in Downtown since 2015 and that’s exciting. I believe we’re going to be able to build upon that success because the regional economy is strong at this moment and Norwich is well-positioned to capitalize on it.

Norwich to hold Saturday workshops on economic development

January 16, 2019 — In his State of the City address two weeks ago, Mayor Peter Nystrom asked aldermen to keep Saturdays open for promised workshops on economic development issues.

The first of those sessions has been scheduled for Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Foundry 66 headquarters of the Norwich Community Development Corp., 66 Franklin St. The second session will be held Feb. 23, also at Foundry 66. The workshops are open to the public.

Saturday’s agenda starts with a review of key economic development issues, including information from economists, followed by a discussion entitled “We are surrounded by HUGE Developments.”

Discussions on revitalization of “an old city” and blighted, vacant buildings and a review of the city’s infrastructure also are on Saturday’s agenda…. CLICK HERE to read more.

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: [email protected] or call 860-887-6964.