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Norwich Community Development Corp. narrowing search for new president

Norwich — The search for a new president for the Norwich Community Development Corp. has been narrowed to 10 finalists now being interviewed by the search committee, with a goal of naming a pick by late May.

NCDC initially received about 170 responses to the advertisement posted on several economic development and job search agencies, NCDC board of directors Chairman Robert Buckley said Thursday. The search committee has narrowed the selection to 10 finalists, and is interviewing them.

Former NCDC President Jason Vincent died Dec. 30 by suicide at the New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia.

Former agency administrator Fawn Walker was appointed as temporary transition coordinator in late January and appointed a search committee to review applications in the hopes of identifying a lead candidate by this month.

The board discussed the search briefly in executive session Thursday. Later Thursday, Buckley said most of the finalists are from the New England and New York area. The search committee will finish initial interviews with the 10 finalists within the next two weeks and will call back about two top candidates for second interviews with more detailed questions.

Once background and credentials checks are done on the top two candidates, the full board of directors will interview them and vote on a proposed selection, Buckley said. A contract then would have to be negotiated with the person.

Buckley said he hopes to have a final pick named by the end of May.

“They’re all professionals, with greater or lesser degrees of economic development experience,” he said of the finalists. “All have some experience with nonprofits to one degree or another. From the resumes, they all are capable of doing the job.”

Vincent’s legacy is still evident at NCDC. Last week, city and agency leaders accepted the 2020 planning award from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association for the city’s $3 million downtown revitalization program. The CCAPA titled the award “Downtown Revitalization Strategy Award.”

Vincent had nominated the 10-year program for the award on behalf of “citizens of Norwich,” Mayor Peter Nystrom and the City Council and included the assessment report he compiled and presented to the NCDC board and the City Council in October.

Voters had approved the $3.38 million bond in 2010 to fund matching grants to owners for building code improvements to historical downtown buildings, lease rebates for businesses moving into storefronts and offices and a revolving loan program for renovation projects. The program funding ends in April of this year, and Nystrom and NCDC officials have discussed designing a new program expanded beyond downtown.

Nystrom said the ceremony was emotional, with tributes to Vincent for his hard work and dedication to Norwich economic development.

Buckley thanked the planning association for the award and liked how the online ceremony showcased how different cities and towns have addressed redevelopment issues.

“It was a very nice presentation,” Buckley said. “I really enjoyed it. It was very enlightening to see all these other projects around the state. It was also nice to see that Norwich isn’t unique in some of the challenges we face. Other municipalities face very similar challenges we do, namely reuse of historic New England mill areas. Just about every town in New England and Connecticut has old mills.”

c.bessette@theday.com

Editor's Note: Voters had approved the $3.38 million bond in 2010 to fund matching grants to owners for building code improvements to historic downtown buildings, lease rebates for businesses moving into storefronts and offices and a revolving loan program for renovation projects. The year was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

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