NCDC board discusses staffing in closed-door session

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Norwich — The Norwich Community Development Corp. board of directors met for an hour behind closed doors Thursday to discuss staffing issues at the agency that serves as the city’s economic development arm.

No public votes were taken, and board Chairman Robert Buckley said the discussion will continue at future meetings, and it could take six weeks to three months to reach decisions on the topics discussed.

NCDC is headed by President Robert Mills, who has led the agency since August 2008, Senior Vice President Jason Vincent, who returned to NCDC in October after nearly four years as Stonington planning director, and Jill Fritzsche, vice president and program manager of the Foundry 66 shared workspace facility.

Buckley said no staff changes are imminent at the organization. But he said the agency might need to add staff, given the growing amount of work at NCDC and Foundry 66 at 66 Franklin St. NCDC oversees the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park, administers the city’s $3.38 million downtown revitalization program and serves as a financing consultant for the large Ponemah Mill redevelopment project in Taftville.

NCDC receives $150,000 per year in funding from the city and another $150,000 per year from Norwich Public Utilities. Its budget this year totals $521,600, and the Foundry 66 budget is $143,661, funded mainly through fees and rent paid by member businesses and entrepreneurs.

In addition, NCDC is the lead agency in the city’s investigation of an undisclosed large potential development project, for which NPU has agreed to fund $500,000 for feasibility studies.

The NCDC board has been discussing personnel issues since last fall, some members confirmed during brief telephone interviews this week, but none would disclose the nature of the discussions or whether any decisions or consensus were reached in those discussions. Some referred questions to Buckley as board spokesman.

Following Thursday’s meeting, Buckley answered “probably not” to a question on whether the board would be seeking to change agency leadership.

“We’ll probably be adding staff at this point,” Buckley said. “We have a lot of projects in the works.”

Mills and Vincent did not attend any portion of Thursday’s executive session.

On Wednesday, Mills said he has no plans to leave NCDC in the near future. He said staffing discussions date back two years, including the desire to bring Vincent back and develop a long-term staffing strategy based on the agency’s increasing workload.

“This is easily 60 hours a week, if not more, frequently more,” Mills said. “I’ve been trying to develop a strategy to find some time in my life.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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