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NCDC vice president to become Killingly economic development director

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Norwich — Jill Fritzsche, vice president of the Norwich Community Development Corp. and instrumental in getting the Foundry 66 shared workspace facility open and expanded, will leave the agency Friday to become economic development director in Killingly.

NCDC President Robert Mills announced Fritzsche’s departure Wednesday and said it’s a loss for the Norwich economic development agency, but a “great career opportunity” for Fritzsche.

“We’re going to need to find three people,” Mills said of the prospects of finding a replacement for Fritzsche.

Mills said NCDC will take its time to find a new replacement.

Fritzsche has served as vice president of economic development and the community manager of Foundry 66 for the past three years. During her tenure at NCDC, she oversaw the expansion of Foundry 66, tripling its occupancy and programming. She launched the creation of the pop-up shop concept for small retail ventures in the Sunlight Emporium Building of the complex, bringing retail back into the downtown.

Fritzsche also administered the taxpayer-funded Downtown Revitalization Bond Program and designed the framework for the award-winning Global City Norwich initiative. Global City Norwich has hosted numerous festivals and business education programs to encourage the city's many immigrant residents to launch downtown businesses.

“Her love and passion for the city of Norwich was evident in all aspects of her work,” Mills wrote in a news release announcing Fritzsche’s coming departure. “Norwich Community Development Corporation has appreciated her creative approach to economic development that will have a lasting impression on the city.”

Fritzsche said Wednesday she was contacted about a year ago and was conflicted on the opportunity. “I love Norwich, and I love the work that we do,” she said.

But she said Killingly officials “planted a seed,” and she had to look. She was attracted by the opportunity to help redevelop downtown Danielson and will have an office in the Killingly Town Hall. She will be working from home initially for Killingly and will be available to assist Foundry 66 with the transition.

Fritzsche owns Encore Justified, a Norwich Main Street antique shop, which now is open by appointment only. She said her daughter might take over the shop this summer “or transition it to something else.”

Foundry 66, located in the former Norwich Bulletin building at 66 Franklin St., is in lockdown during the state COVID-19 shutdown, open only to members and visitors by appointments only. No group meetings are allowed.

Mills said even during the shutdown, Fritzsche signed on new entrepreneurial members, and the need for shared workspace could expand as the economy rebounds from the COVID-19 emergency, Mills said.

Global City Norwich, coordinated by Suki Lagrito, recently received an award of excellence from Connecticut Main Street. In addition to downtown street festivals, the program has run business startup education programs and outreach to small businesses. The program has received $100,000 in grant funding from Chelsea Groton Bank for the past three years.

"Jill Fritzsche is amazingly talented," Lagrito said, "and anyone that has worked alongside Jill will certain agree that she is a catalyst of creativity and change. There is no doubt Jill will be successful in all her new endeavors, and although we will miss her here in downtown, her positive impact will still be long lasting."

“Global City Norwich has been a great program for Norwich, and Jill’s creative thinking in developing that program has enabled new businesses to open in our downtown,” Mayor Peter Nystrom said in the news release. “Jill has been an amazing asset for Norwich over the past several years. We are sad to see her leave, but at the same time excited for her new opportunity.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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