Lieutenant governor tours ThayerMahan, Mystic retailers

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Groton — Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz spent several hours in Groton Monday, following up a 2020 Census kickoff with a tour of ThayerMahan, lunch at Sift Bake Shop and stops at multiple Groton-side shops and restaurants in downtown Mystic,

Chapter One Food and Drink, Mystic Army Navy Store, Tidal River Clothing Co, The Mixed Bag, The Blue Horse, The Finer Line Gallery and N.L. Shaw and Company all were part of the tour.

The various elected officials on the tour heard feedback to support varying political agendas. The owner of Tidal River Clothing said she is fine with the new 10-cent tax on plastic bags — effective Aug. 1 — and pushes her vendors not to use plastic, while the owner of The Blue Horse said she'd like to see tolls on the highway.

But a recent Massachusetts-to-Connecticut transplant they talked to in Tidal commented that the taxes are higher here than in so-called "Taxachusetts" and expressed the view that the government unions are "killing the state."

Bysiewicz told The Day that when she tours a manufacturing facility or innovative business in any Connecticut town, she also stops and visits retail shops. This is done in conjunction with her efforts to promote the census; she has now visited 23 cities and towns doing so.

She said her business stops Monday are relevant because "the figures that the census folks collect are used by small, medium-sized and large businesses when they decide where to locate new stores, where to locate new houses."

State Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton, joined for the tour of ThayerMahan, a maritime surveillance company that has an office in the Airport Business Park and will develop additional space at the former Groton Heights School.

State Rep. Joe de la Cruz, D-Groton, and state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, later took Bysiewicz into Mystic shops. Joining Bysiewicz throughout the day were some members of the Groton Town Council and the town's Office of Planning and Development Services.

ThayerMahan's director of Seabed Systems Group, Steve Link, explained to the group that the company recently did a technology demonstration for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that involved surveying underwater cultural heritage sites.

CEO Mike Connor said ThayerMahan is working on getting federal government contracts, transitioning from operating the system from a manned ship to an unmanned ship, and getting business with the offshore wind industry.

For offshore wind, Connor said his company has a proposal to monitor the North Atlantic right whale, as construction must cease whenever a whale is in the area. ThayerMahan now has 25 employees, soon to be 27, and Bysiewicz later commented it was nice to see a staff with so many young people.

Connor said of shipbuilding, "Those skills are highly transferrable to this new industry, and frankly a windmill is not as complex as a nuclear submarine."

Groton Director of Planning Jon Reiner also told Bysiewicz of other developments in the Airport Business Park, citing the addition of Mystic Cheese Company and Beer'd Brewing Company, and the expansion of CrossFit Inguz.

In Mystic, de la Cruz was excited to take Bysiewicz into Chapter One, considering he once coached executive chef Bret Pangelinan in Little League and works with Pangelinan's father at Hillery Company.

De la Cruz asked business owners for their thoughts on the downtown streetscape project, now that it's several years after the fact, and a couple of business owners asked about the prospects for improving parking in Mystic.

e.moser@theday.com

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