Governor Lamont Announces $1.3 Million in State Funding to Create a Business Incubator Focused on Job Growth in the New London Area
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the Connecticut State Bond Commission is expected to approve an allocation of $1.3 million in public funding to support the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce in its establishment. the Thames River Innovation Centre, which will be located at 92 Eugene O’Neill Drive in New London and will provide businesses and workers in the region with a hub for innovation and a co-working space.
The center will be used for entrepreneurial training, technical apprenticeships and business development, as well as advising entrepreneurs, including immigrants, on existing state and local licensing requirements to start a new business. It will be operated by the chamber in partnership with its 1,400 member companies.
The Government Bonds Commission will vote on the matter at its next meeting on Thursday, March 31, 2022. Governor Lamont is chairman of the commission.
“The needs of business and our economy are constantly changing, and having a business incubator like the one proposed in New London will provide workers across the region with a resource to develop their skills and be matched with potential employers” , Governor Lamont said. “By partnering with the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce and its many members, we can help ensure the region continues to grow with the needs of the business world.”
The chamber models the center after similar efforts across the country, including the Center for Innovation at UMass Dartmouth, the Berkshire Innovation Center, Foundry 66 in Norwich, the District of New Haven, CURE Innovation Commons in Groton, and the Westerly Education Center.
When fully operational, the chamber’s goals for the center are to support the creation of approximately 100 new jobs per year and launch more than 100 new businesses over the next decade, of which at least 20% will be owned by minorities and immigrants.
“I would like to thank Governor Lamont and the Chamber Board for their support of this important development,” Tony Sheridan, president and CEO of the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, said. “The center will focus on entrepreneurial training, technical apprenticeships and business development, as well as advising entrepreneurs, including immigrants, on regional and local permit requirements to set up a new business. The Governor is committed to working to revitalize our downtowns and this project, with states and private investments in the redevelopment of the State Pier, begins to deliver on that commitment.
“The New London Innovation Center is critically important for economic development, particularly support for new small businesses and skills training,” Dr. Stephen Coan, chairman of the board of directors for the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, said. “Governor Lamont’s support for this project underscores his commitment to building a strong and vibrant economy for the future of New London, Eastern Connecticut and the State.
The proposed location for the center is in an Enterprise Zone and a Federal Opportunity Zone at the entrance to the city’s downtown. It will be easily accessible by public transportation, has ample parking, and is close to many of the region’s largest employers, as well as historically underserved neighborhoods.
The chamber’s board of directors, which will serve as the fiscal agent and manager of the centre, has approved the relocation of the chamber’s headquarters to New London to accommodate this project. In addition, the chamber will be an anchor tenant and will commit annual resources to the operation and management of the centre, providing much needed synergy for the revitalization of New London and the region.
“Returning the Chamber of Commerce to its historic headquarters in the heart of New London’s downtown business district is an integral part of the vision for the city’s rebirth as the economic center of southeast Connecticut,” Mayor Michael Passero said. “I deeply appreciate that Governor Lamont shares the city’s dream and is committed to making it a reality.
Entrepreneurship training at the center will include a ten-week curriculum-based program designed to help emerging entrepreneurs formulate their business or service ideas and develop a basic understanding of how to start a business. A four-month acceleration program will provide opportunities for mentorship, guidance, resources and assistance during the first two years of operating a business.
The chamber, along with key partners such as the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, will provide support services to retired members of the military community by helping to match their skills to the needs of potential employers. Additionally, the center will provide a welcoming support system for incoming military spouses, making connections with local businesses, mentoring and job training. The chamber will also act as a liaison between educational institutions and local businesses to help educational institutions understand the skills required for emerging blue tech careers in the region.