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Dozens send resumes for NCDC president position

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Norwich — One week before the deadline, the Norwich Community Development Corp. has received 85 resumes from people interested in the president position at the city’s economic development agency.

NCDC has posted the position at online job search and trade groups' websites, and officials cautioned Thursday that many of the responses might not be suited for the position that oversees economic development, business assistance and the city business park. The NCDC board’s search committee will review the applications after the March 5 response deadline.

The agency is seeking a successor to former President Jason Vincent, who died Dec. 30 by suicide in West Virginia. Former NCDC administrator Fawn Walker is serving as the part-time transition coordinator.

NCDC officials also hope to expand staffing by hiring a full-time vice president to serve primarily as a grant writer and project manager, and by expanding the part-time administrative support staff to full time.

To that end, the board is requesting an increase in funding from both the city and Norwich Public Utilities. Each currently provides $150,000 per year. In a letter dated Jan. 29, NCDC President Robert Buckley requested an increase of $125,000 from each entity.

“At this date, due in part to these particularly challenging times, NCDC recognizes the need for additional business support resources from the City and NPU,” Buckley wrote. “For NCDC to continue its current work underway and move forward with a potential new business park, additional investment in NCDC is imperative for the continuation of a long and successful history of economic development.”

NCDC was formed in 1964 to develop the city’s industrial park, now named for founder and longtime champion, Stanley Israelite. Efforts expanded to downtown development and major projects. NCDC now has a purchase agreement for $3.55 million on 17 parcels comprising 348 acres of mostly rural farmland in the Occum area and is studying the feasibility of creating a second business park.

Both the city and NPU have voting members on the NCDC board. Robert Staley, chairman of the city utilities commission, also serves as NCDC board treasurer. Staley expressed concern at Thursday’s NCDC meeting that the agency's revenue is declining, with the $3 million downtown bond program winding down and COVID-19 impacting rental income at the Foundry 66 shared workspace.

Staley said NCDC should be fine financially for the remainder of this fiscal year through June, but NPU could consider an emergency allocation if necessary. The $125,000 increased funding request would start July 1 if approved.

The NPU board will review its proposed 2021-22 budget March 23.

“My guess is we’re going to increase our contribution, but we haven’t discussed it in detail yet,” Staley said. “There is an interest in knowing exactly how the money is going to be used and what plan NCDC has for it.”

Another factor, Staley said, is a former agreement that NPU had “comped” NCDC and Foundry 66 for its utility costs for a time after the shared workspace opened. NCDC now is paying its utility bills, but Staley said the value of that past contribution should be considered.

NPU General Manager Chris LaRose said NPU has “good intent” in funding more for NCDC, but the budget process is not yet finalized.

NPU has not increased the $150,000 allocation to NCDC since the funding started in 1999. Staley said based on the U.S. Labor Department’s inflation calculator, the amount would be $238,000 today. The request to add $125,000 would bring the NPU total to $275,000. Staley said since 1999, NPU revenues have jumped from $47 million to about $90 million.

The city has been providing $150,000 per year since 2009 in the mayor-City Council budget. Mayor Peter Nystrom said he has not yet discussed the budget with City Manager John Salomone, who will present his proposed budget to the City Council on April 5. Nystrom, Salomone and Aldermen Mark Bettencourt and Stacy Gould sit on the NCDC board.

Bettencourt suggested NCDC give a presentation on the funding request during department budget hearings held in April.

c.bessette@theday.com

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