Innovation Place names executive director to coordinate projects

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New London — The Thames River Innovation Place on Wednesday announced David McBride, a longtime employee of the Mohegan Tribe and Mohegan Holding Co., as its new executive director.

The entrepreneur-boosting organization CTNext selected TRIP in June as one of four statewide innovation places and awarded the project a $900,000 matching grant.

As executive director, McBride will coordinate with the leads on five projects designed to spur innovation and business growth in New London and Groton: Ignite, Community Concierge, Connecticut Naval Undersea Supply Chain Consortium, Placemaking Redevelopment Initiatives & Plans, and Cultivator Kitchen.

"Southeastern Connecticut does have the resources necessary to truly differentiate ourselves from other areas and truly become the area where our children and our children's children want to live, work, play and call home," McBride said.

McBride was selected by a search committee comprising Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut Vice President Sheri Cote, Town of Groton manager of economic and community development Paige Bronk, Groton City Planner Barbara Goodrich, New London City Planner Sybil Tetteh, Spark Makerspace organizer Hannah Gant and CURE Innovations President Susan Froshauer.

Cote, chair of the TRIP Board of Advisors, announced McBride as the new executive director at Thames River Greenery on State Street on Wednesday morning.

"One of the reasons we selected this space is because of its funkiness and its innovativeness," Cote said.

McBride, a Lisbon native, graduated from Saint Bernard School and Seton Hall University before attaining his master's in business administration from the University of Connecticut.

McBride, 47, started at Mohegan Sun as a revenue auditor in 1996. He then spent the next 15 years as director of finance for the Mohegan Tribe.

McBride became director of business diversification and then vice president of food and beverage for Mohegan Holding Co., developing the Smashburger and Jersey Mike's franchises across the area.

He also manages a family business with several Dairy Queen franchises, is treasurer of the Groton Long Point Association and teaches accounting and finance courses for the University of Phoenix.

In 2002, McBride established the James A. Greenleaf Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor his friend who died on 9/11. He lives in Groton with his fiancée and their five children.

As TRIP executive director, McBride said his medium- and long-term goals are to expand upon the five original programs to "truly develop southeastern Connecticut beyond Groton and New London to become an innovation depot like no other in the area."

Mayor Michael Passero said TRIP is showing that the City of New London, City of Groton and Town of Groton can't continue to just focus on themselves, that there's strength in unity.

He added that "southeastern Connecticut has often been the sort of stepchild of the state economy" but that things go in cycles and the region can now help rejuvenate the state economy.

Glendowlyn Thames, executive director of CTNext, said her organization is not aiming to lead efforts but to facilitate the ability of folks on the ground to reimagine their communities.

This reimagining is being done through the five projects. Ignite provides education, events and business development support for entrepreneurs, with a goal of producing three start-ups in the first year.

For Ignite, CURE Innovation Commons, 93 Shennecossett Road in Groton, is holding, from 1 to 7 p.m. Oct. 19, a day of free presentations on business formation and community building, as part of the North American Tech Tour of White House Entrepreneur in Residence Paul Singh.

Community Concierge, which aims to connect people relocating to southeastern Connecticut with arts and culture opportunities, is having its first event at the Thames Club, 290 State St. in New London, at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19.

The Connecticut Naval Undersea Supply Chain Consortium aims to strengthen the naval supplier network in Connecticut.

Placemaking Redevelopment Initiatives & Plans will strengthen the connection between the Thames Street/Bridge Street area in Groton and Hodges Square in New London by enhancing the nonvehicular path over the Gold Star Bridge.

Cultivator Kitchen is helping student restaurateurs by holding cooking challenges and pop-up restaurant nights, with Robert Ramsay from the Montauk House Café as a mentor. Spark Makerspace, at 86 Golden St. in New London, has been holding $10 grilling dinner parties on Fridays. The one this Friday is Oktoberfest-themed, with sausages, pretzels, beer cheese, sauerkraut and beer. It goes from 4 to 8 p.m.

e.moser@theday.com

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