by Brent Addleman
A $1.3 million business incubator is in the works, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said.
Lamont announced the anticipated approval from the Connecticut State Bond Commission for the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut’s Thames River Innovation Center which will focus on job growth in the state.
The center, according to a release, will be located in New London and will give businesses and workers an innovation center and working space, in addition to the site being used for training, technical apprenticeships, and business development.
The State Bond Commission’s next meeting, according to the release, is March 31. The governor serves as chairman.
“The needs of businesses and our economy are constantly evolving and having a business incubator like the one being proposed in New London will provide workers throughout the region with a resource to build their skill sets and become matched with prospective employers,” Lamont said in the release. “By partnering with the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut and its many members, we can help ensure that the region continues to grow with the needs of the business community.”
The center is being molded after other centers across the United States, including at UMass Dartmouth, the Berkshire Innovation Center, Foundry 66 in Norwich, the District in New Haven, CURE Innovation Commons in Groton, and the Westerly Education Center.
The goal for the center is to create 100 new jobs each year and launch more than 100 businesses over the next decade. It is anticipated that 20% of the businesses will be minority- and immigrant-owned.
“The center will focus on entrepreneurial training, technical apprenticeships, and business development, as well as advising entrepreneurs, including immigrants, of existing region and local permit requirements for forming a new company,” Tony Sheridan, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said in the release. “The governor made a commitment to work on revitalizing our inner cities and this project along with the states and private investment in the redevelopment of the state pier begins to address this commitment.”
The center will be in enterprise and federal opportunity zones near the downtown area in New London. The site was chosen for being accessible to public transportation, parking is available, and is near some of the area’s largest employers.
The financial aspect of the center will be handled by the Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, who will also manage the center. The chamber office will be moved to the location and serve as the anchor tenant of the complex.
Training at the center will be conducted in 10-week programs aimed at emerging entrepreneurs to form their business ideas to gain a better understanding of how to get the idea off the ground. There will also be a four-month accelerator program for mentorship, guidance, resources, and assistance for the first two years for a new business.
The Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board will assist the facility with support services for military retirees by matching their skillsets with prospective employers. In addition, it will be a hot spot for blue tech careers in the area.
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Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky. Addleman contributes to The Center Square.
Photo “Ned Lamont” by Ned Lamont.