seCTer News & Updates


New Leadership for the Regional Economic Development Agency in Southeastern CT

The Southeastern CT Enterprise Region (seCTer) is pleased to announce the selection of a new Executive Director.

Nancy Cowser, currently an executive for United Community and Family Services with a background in banking will take over for Interim Executive Director Sean Nugent in January.  Nugent has served since the August resignation of Stephen MacKenzie. In an interview with Lee Howard from the New London Day, Cowser stated that her No. 1 priority is to make seCTer relevant again by working on more collaborations and partnerships to increase the agency's visibility and value to the region.  Cowser has been working with seCTer for the past year on a Strategic Plan for the company to help clarify roles and identify priorities moving forward. We are excited to start off the New Year with Nancy at the helm and a clearer path outlined for the corporation.


seCTer Hires New Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) Counselors

Lisa Wood, Director of seCTer’s PTAP, is pleased to announce the addition of Kristine Halleck (who is replacing Debbie Smith) in the Groton office and Gary Alfano in the new Stamford office.  “Both Kristine and Gary bring a wealth of experience to the team and we are excited to have them both join seCTer,” said Lisa Wood.


seCTer/SBA to Offer Procurement Training

If you are new to, experienced with, or looking to learn more about navigating the complexities of the governmental procurement process then this course is a great start for you and your company.  

The Government Contracting course will be taught by experts from seCTer-PTAP and SBA and will be held at Three Rivers Community College from 9:30am to 12:00pm in Room 118B. Courses are FREE to attend.

  • April 28th: Contracting 101
  • May 19th: Matchmaker Primer/Completing a Capability Statement
    This seminar will educate businesses on how to manage all three phases of the Matchmaker event including preparation, face to face meetings and follow up. Learning objectives include: How to prepare for meeting with important buyers, write your elevator speech, use proper matchmaker etiquette, create a powerful one-page capability statement that will set you apart from the competition, and develop an effective follow-up strategy with new contacts from the event.

Mark your calendars! 


seCTer Holds Annual Meeting

seCTer’s annual meeting was held on November 30th at the Groton Inn & Suites.  This year’s theme was focused on seCTer’s service offerings and future. "I believe we in southeastern Connecticut are in one of those 'Perfect Storm' moments," said Sean Nugent, interim executive director.  In the past, said Nugent, people have focused on only the negative elements when telling the story of the region. But Nugent said "it's time to change that story" and focus instead on moving forward by developing a diverse, adaptable local economy keyed to such business areas as defense, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, healthcare services, creative information technologies and arts and culture.

Charles Seeman, Chairman of the seCTer Board, said the regional organization is in a transitional and transformative time in its history. The group is currently in the midst of developing a new strategic direction, he said, at the same time that its governance structure is changing and it is expecting early next year to come out with a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the region that is required every five years.

Juliet Hodge, Director of Economic Development and Marketing for seCTer, discussed the status of the Comprehensive Economic Development Plan (or CEDS) she is currently drafting for the region with the help of a Strategy Committee and lots of public input. A major theme of the new CEDS is regional alignment around a core vision and brand for the region.  "In the global economy, it's the region that's the economic unit, not the individual towns," she said. Hodge emphasized the need to re-tell the story of SECT in a way that emphasizes the strengths and assets. She said the organization also is working on a website update as well and hopes the site will provide renewed value to seCTer’s varied clients.

Ann Chambers, director of Loans, said seCTer had $688,000 in loan funding either approved or pending in the current fiscal year, with another $1.3 million in the pipeline for 2017.  She made a passionate plea to the group and the region at large when she stated that “…with technology and improvements in transportation, we are three hours from 45 million people.  We know that there are challenges with respect to the cost of living and doing business, but we fail to embrace this simple truth…we live, work, and play in a really great place, and those 45 million potential customers ARE really close.”

Lisa Wood, Director of Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP), described it as "the eHarmony of government contracting”.  She said her group's work led to 965 government awards this year amounting to $143 million in business for the state. Next year, she hopes to double the amount thanks to a new partnership with the University of Connecticut and a new PTAP office in Stamford.


Thames River Innovation Place

Public and Private Collaboration abound in Groton (City and Town) and New London surrounding the receipt of a $50,000 CT Next - Innovation Place planning grant.
This grant is the first step in a two-step process to formally make the area around the mouth of the Thames River in Groton and New London a state-designated Innovation Place.  The goal of the Innovation Places initiative is to create “great places in good cities” by acting on ideas to attract and retain talent, and by setting the stage for entrepreneurship and innovation. This new pattern of collaboration coupled with an official state designation will hopefully spark an economic renaissance that builds on the strengths and uniqueness of the “place” around the mouth of the Thames River.

The Thames River Innovation Place (TRIP) group headed by Hannah Gant of Spark Makerspace ( and Susan Froshauer of Connecticut United for Research Excellence (, is made up of local entrepreneurs, community and industry leaders, educators, public officials and planning and economic development professionals. This team began the planning process this week with the help of consultants from the Santa Fe-based Regenesis Group ( who will conduct a “Story of Place” process to explore the history, culture and development patterns as well as potential ways the Thames River Innovation place can transform into more connected, vibrant place to live.

New London and Groton (City and Town) have recently cooperated on the Thames River Heritage Park and water taxi project which really brought attention to the unifying force of the Thames River that has been looked upon as a barrier in the past. The area is ripe for entrepreneurship, and has the infrastructure framework necessary to be able to connect with all the larger urban centers that lie within a few hours’ drive. This effort is also well-timed given the expected influx of young professionals at Electric Boat and the determination of many local organizations across many sectors to help Groton and New London grow into the thriving communities they have the potential to become in part due to the unique mix of industry, history, institutions, and creative culture that exist between the two cities.

CEDAS Board member and Director of Economic Development for the Southeastern CT Enterprise Region, Juliet Hodge serves on the TRIP Core Committee responsible for coordinating the grant writing, outreach events and larger planning process with the broader stakeholder team.


Spotlight on the Town of Stonington
Stonington is a charming New England town of 18,500 people and consists of the villages ofMystic, Stonington Borough, and Pawcatuck. It is the last shoreline town before entering Rhode Island. With 3 exits on Interstate 95 and convenient AMTRAK passenger rail service from a station in Mystic, the town is well connected to Boston and New York and the many larger urban centers in between. Stonington and its surrounding towns are home to a highly skilled and well-educated workforce, and that, coupled with the extraordinary quality of life Stonington and the rest of Southeastern CT enjoys, make it a great place to do business.

Stonington is in fact teeming with activity! Director of Planning, Jason Vincent reported the following impressive list of activities and investment for 2016.

Commercial Projects Approved in 2016 –$15.1 million

  • Davis-Standard – 15,000 square foot addition + 40 jobs (estimated $1.5 million project) – UNDER CONSTRUCTION
  • YMCA addition – 10,000 square foot addition and remodeling (estimated $7.2 million project)
  • Snedicker Yacht – 9,600 square foot expansion and remodeling (estimated $750,000 project)
  • Flemings Feed – Modernization (estimated $250,000 project) – UNDER CONSTRUCTION
  • Extrusion Drive Mini Storage – 28,000 facility (estimated $1.4 million project) – UNDER CONSTRUCTION
  • St. Michael’s Church reconstruction project – (estimated $4.5 Million)
  • Prospect Place Phase II – 16 units (estimated $4 million project)


COs issued in 2016 – $74.5 million

  • Thread Mill adaptive reuse – 58 units of mixed income housing / $26 million project
  • Masonicare eldercare facility – 179 units / $32 million project + jobs
  • Thompson Exhibition Center at Mystic Seaport – $11.5 million project + jobs
  • Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center – $5 million project + jobs
  • Jealous Monk (remodeled space + lease + jobs)
  • Dog Watch BBQ (remodeled space + lease +  jobs)
  • Applied Sciences (21,000 remodeled space + lease + jobs)

Under-construction – $10 million (plus $15.1 already listed / counted above)

  • Spruce Meadow – 43 units of mixed income housing (estimated $10 million project)

Major area employers include General Dynamics/Electric Boat, Pfizer, Dominion Nuclear Power, the US Navy Submarine Base, Computer Sciences, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun Casinos, Lawrence and Memorial Hospital and Backus Hospital. The town is home to Davis Standard, an international industry leader in the manufacture and supply of extrusion and packaging machinery. Stonington is home to two internationally recognized tourist businesses: Mystic Seaport – the Museum of America and the Sea and the Mystic Marine Life Aquarium.  Senior living/healthcare is a business segment currently experiencing growth with over $80 million recently invested or in the process of being invested.

For more information about the Town and/or development opportunities, please contact Jason Vincent, Director of Planning at


New Co-working space open on Franklin Street in Norwich
Sandwiched between two local breweries, the Foundry 66 co-working space is open and accepting members! Please visit the website to learn more.




CEDAS 2016 Accomplishments
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