Nancy Cowser started as the Executive Director of seCTer in January. In her role, Ms. Cowser works to promote economic growth in the region through business partnerships, counseling, and small loan services. In this “A conversation with…” we learn about the impact seCTer is having in southeastern Connecticut and the direction she is taking the organization.
Can you tell us a little more about seCTer in general and the ways the organization is supporting businesses growth in southeastern Connecticut?
seCTer is southeastern Connecticut’s economic development district. As such, we are charged with developing and facilitating implementation of the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy, commonly called the CEDS. We work closely with key community organizations, businesses, leaders and other stakeholders to create a vision and plan that is congruent with regional priorities and strategies, and is nimble enough to be responsive to our rapidly changing economy. In addition to the CEDS and in partnership with DECD, seCTer has a robust small business development lending program. seCTer also runs the state’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP), which helps businesses bid on local, state and federal government contracts. This year we will lend up to $3 million to small businesses and our nearly 600 PTAP clients will realize more than $150 million in government contracts.
Tell us about your Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.
We work closely with DECD and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to ensure that our plan supports statewide economic development goals. The CEDS is currently under review by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and as soon as it's approved we can start working it. seCTer will be responsible for its implementation, which can range from supporting existing groups, to creating new teams to tackle issues not currently being addressed. seCTer will also be responsible for regularly reporting on the plan’s results, including developing metrics to measure the region’s success toward meeting the CEDS goals. It is a very broad and ambitious plan – almost audacious in its scope – but we were determined to set a very high bar.
What other organizations besides DECD and OPM do you work with?
There are so many fantastic organizations, nonprofits, municipalities, chambers of commerce and other groups that we work with across the state. It would take me too long to name them all. But a few of them include the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, the Connecticut Economic Development Association, Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, the United Way, and the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB).
The announcement of Electric Boat that it will hire 5,000 new employees by 2030 will be a huge benefit to the region. Have you been working with the EWIB to help address EB’s workforce needs?
Yes, seCTer is actively engaged in all aspects of this exciting opportunity. Working closely with the EWIB, we are focused on bringing resources to continue to develop the manufacturing and healthcare pipelines. We also sit on both the manufacturing and healthcare subcommittees of the EWIB. But it’s not just about workforce development. Creating a sense of place – a region where people want to work, live and play – underpins successful workforce development for all our education partners and employers.
How important is the proposed plan by the Mohegan Tribe to redevelop the Norwich Hospital site into a dozen amenities, including an indoor water park, a senior living center, and a sports complex to creating this sense of place?
I cannot overemphasize how important this project is to our region. And to Preston and the Mohegan Tribe’s great credit, they have ensured that this is perceived and marketed as a tremendous regional opportunity. We must all work together toward the fulfillment of this amazing vision, and I can honestly say that we are all committed to doing so. This project will strengthen the entire region and directly ties into just about all of the CEDS’ broad goals.