2020 Award of Excellence: Global City Norwich
Global City Norwich (GCN) is a unique, multiyear initiative focused on enlivening the viability of historic downtown Norwich. The program’s objectives are to:
- Engage the strength of a diverse population uniquely available in Norwich by creating downtown foot traffic year-round with multiple family-friendly cultural festivals;
- Cultivate entrepreneurs within the community and remove barriers into the business community through education, incubation, and mentorship; and
- Facilitate the occupancy of empty downtown retail spaces through educating owners with financial proformas for using retail spaces as well as assisting in physical space readiness.
Created on the premise that diversity is an asset, GCN celebrates heritage, culture, and inclusiveness. Its programs provided an opportunity for citizens to display their love of who they are, while attracting people from outside Norwich for vibrant events and opportunities to invest in downtown.
It’s not just about street festivals: Global City Norwich is setting the stage for economic vitality. Highly tactical work, requiring lots of people and stakeholder involvement, the program has been a catalyst for the creation of partnerships.
GCN is currently working on Phase 3 of the program: identifying, refurbishing, and filling empty retail spaces in downtown with local entrepreneurs. Known as the “Vanilla Box Program”, GCN is working to increase property owner awareness about the emerging market opportunity and how they need to re-position their leasable spaces to attract investment.
As the primary funder of the Global City Norwich initiative, Chelsea Groton Bank Foundation wanted to create a vibrant and sustainable downtown to revitalize the area with culture, cuisine and entrepreneurship. Chelsea Groton’s multi-year commitment is assisting multicultural entrepreneurs and small business owners interested in occupying storefront spaces in downtown. The foundation’s generous financial commitment has leveraged additional support, and interest from surrounding communities. Chelsea Groton Foundation’s story is that of an anchor institution supporting the community, being a champion for the program and recognizing that diversity of community is an asset.