Chelsea Groton Foundation awards $100,000 new grant to Global City Norwich

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Norwich — The Chelsea Groton Foundation will fund a second year of the Global City Norwich initiative to revitalize downtown by highlighting the growing multinational makeup of the city, with the new $100,000 grant to focus on filling city storefronts with international small businesses.

The foundation in spring helped launch Global City Norwich with an initial $100,000 grant to build downtown vitality through international street festivals and events to draw people. The new grant announced this week will be used to identify and train entrepreneurs and help them find appropriate storefronts and funding to start their businesses.

“Small business activity is critical to the success of any downtown area, and it will be no different in Norwich,” Michael Rauh, president and CEO of Chelsea Groton Bank and president of the Chelsea Groton Foundation, said in a news release announcing the second grant. “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.”

Jill Fritzsche, community manager for Norwich Community Development Corp., said NCDC’s Foundry 66 shared workspace facility will be hosting a Small Business Academy starting Jan. 29 and running eight consecutive Tuesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. to teach budding entrepreneurs the essentials in business start-up.

Fritzsche called it a business “boot camp,” with sessions on writing a business plan, cash flow management and entrepreneurship.

“We want to give people the tools they need to go into business,” Fritzsche said, “and we hope our Main Street reflects our population.”

Interested parties are asked to sign up for the business training program by contacting Fritzsche at Foundry 66 at (860) 887-6964 or jfritzsche@askncdc.com.

Suki Lagrito, Global City Norwich liaison, said one new downtown business with an international flavor will be launched in spring: a global indoor market planned for the former People’s Bank building at 4 Broadway, at the corner with Main Street. The market is expected to open in early spring and run through May, she said.

Downtown street festivals on Franklin Street won’t disappear with the new focus of the grant. Lagrito said eight to 10 festivals are planned for 2019, including a Cape Verdean festival on May 26, the return of a Polish festival June 2, and “Ellis! Arts and History” festival to pay tribute to local artist Ellis Ruley in August. The Norwich NAACP’s annual Juneteenth festival on June 15 will move to the Franklin Street block, as well, Lagrito said.

Global City Norwich will close out Chelsea Groton’s initial grant with the final 2018 festival this Sunday, with the “Candy, Cocoa and Coffee Festival” from noon to 3 p.m. on Franklin Street. The indoor-outdoor event is free and will feature a heated tent with Santa and Mrs. Claus posing for photos with children — bring your own camera — and a giant candy house to be constructed by those waiting in line for Santa.

Inside the Foundry 66 building, Craftsman Cliff’s Roasters will offer coffee and hot cocoa and the Chocolate Rose bakery will offer treats. Live music, children’s entertainment and Christmas storytelling and a rock painting station also will be inside the building.

Norwich has a long connection to hot cocoa, as 18th century entrepreneur Christopher Leffingwell operated a chocolate factory in Norwichtown.

“Hot cocoa is the official drink of Norwich,” Lagrito said. “We just want to have this fun element to celebrate, because it is a piece of Norwich history. And Norwich was the Christmas City. When Global City started, so many people told me it’s really important to bring Christmas back to Norwich.”

c.bessette@theday.com

If you go

What: Candy, Cocoa and Coffee Festival, a free indoor-outdoor event

When: noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16

Where: Franklin Street, Norwich

More information: The event will feature a heated tent with Santa and Mrs. Claus posing for photos with children (bring your own camera) and a giant candy house to be constructed by those waiting in line. Inside the Foundry 66 building, Craftsman Cliff's Roasters will offer coffee and hot cocoa and the Chocolate Rose bakery will offer treats. Live music, children's entertainment and Christmas storytelling and a rock painting station also will be offered.

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