Thames River Innovation Place seeking proposals for third-year projects

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Thames River Innovation Place, the CTNext-funded initiative aimed at boosting entrepreneurship in the region, is seeking proposals for projects in its third year, which begins in July.

Interim Executive Director Emma Palzere-Rae said she hopes to get the final request for proposals out by the weekend, and TRIP will be accepting proposals the first half of April, then will review and submit them to CTNext by April 30.

She hopes to hold events where people can come and talk about their ideas, and see "whether or not it's valuable, and if it's viable."

TRIP is one of four innovation places that CTNext, a public-private network of entrepreneurs and mentors, designated in Connecticut in 2017. CTNext granted TRIP a $900,000 matching grant the first year and about $500,000 for the July 2018-June 2019 period. Palzere-Rae said she's not sure yet how much CTNext will allocate this year.

The restaurant and test kitchen RD86 got funding in the first year, became self-sustaining and didn't get funding last year, and will seek funding for the third year as it seeks to expand the cultivator-kitchen aspect, Palzere-Rae said.

She added that the project to revitalize Thames Street in Groton and Hodges Square in New London also may seek third-year funding. Other projects active now include the Naval & Maritime Consortium; Ignite, a business accelerator; and Community Concierge, a Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut program that aims to make transplants to southeastern Connecticut feel connected to the region.

"We're all diplomats, at the end of the day actually, and we need to have our people be educated to the degree possible about what's available here," Chamber President Tony Sheridan said.

The Chamber launched a relocation guide and video that employers such as Electric Boat and Pfizer are using to recruit, and it's involved in hosting "FAM Tours" to familiarize hospitality and tourism workers with other attractions in the area.

Sheridan, who is chairman of the TRIP board of directors, said the board has been conducting interviews the past two weeks for a permanent executive director. David McBride previously held the position but left to become finance director for the City of New London.

For more information about the submission process or to submit a proposal, email director@thamesriverinnovation.org or call Palzere-Rae at (860) 383-5939.

e.moser@theday.com

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