Sachem Fund application preparations for Norwich officials begin

Norwich - City officials are preparing for what could be the final grant application round for the Sachem Fund, created in 2007 by the city and the Mohegan Tribe to boost economic development, historic preservation, tourism and public services.

There is $273,453 remaining in the fund, with both the city and the tribe having ceased their annual contributions as a result of the slowed economy.

The Sachem Fund Committee, with members from both the city and the tribe, Wednesday launched a new round of grant applications that could disperse the final funds by November. The committee agreed Wednesday not to limit applications to any specific type of projects but promised to scrutinize applications with critical ranking criteria that would favor collaborative efforts, long-term city benefits and viability.

If enough applications don't meet the ranking criteria, a future grant funding round could be scheduled, members said.

The schedule set Wednesday calls for the advertisement to be published July 23. The Sachem Fund Committee plans to host a workshop for applicants on Aug. 6 to help potential applicants understand the criteria, financial information and supporting documentation needed by the committee.

Grant applications will be due Sept. 3. The committee will rank the proposals and invite finalists to present their plans before making recommendations to the City Council no later than Sept. 20 to start the process of receiving council approval for grants by Nov. 3.

Committee member Mark Brown of the Mohegan Tribe suggested the applicants' workshop - which would be optional - to ensure that agencies are aware of the strict requirements. He said the workshop also might encourage groups that attend to collaborate on possible projects and file a joint application.

"The concept is if the applications meet the intent (of the grant fund), this could be the final allocation of grants," said Gary Evans, city community development office coordinator and the city staff person who works with the committee.

Former Mayor Benjamin Lathrop and Mohegan tribal leaders created the Sachem Fund in the hopes that the fund could disperse more than $1 million in its projected five-year tenure. The two governments started with a commitment to contribute $100,000 each per year to support economic development, historic preservation, tourism and arts programs.

But as the recession hit, the governments first reduced funding to $75,000 and then $50,000. Funding allocations stopped in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

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