The Day

Global City Norwich restarts with new program manager

Organizati­on’s goal: highlighti­ng area’s diversity

- By CLAIRE BESSETTE Day Staff Writer

Norwich — Global City Norwich is back after a six-month hiatus for the program that aims to galvanize the many ethnic groups in the city to create public events, launch new businesses and become active in the community.

Norwich native Bobbie Braboy, 29, was named this week as the new program manager for Global City Norwich, run by the Norwich Community Developmen­t Corp. Brayboy hit the ground running, hosting a meet-and-greet with community leaders Wednesday evening before she was formally introduced to the NCDC Board of Directors on Thursday morning.

“As a young person who grew up here, and to see the diversity that has blossomed here in Norwich, and to be part of that, it’s unspeakabl­e how grateful I am for this opportunit­y and how honored and privileged it is to be in the position,” Braboy said Thursday.

The NCDC board on Thursday created a three-member Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee that will oversee Global City Norwich.

Braboy holds a part-time contracted position, funded initially with a portion of the $12,500 remainder in the Global City Norwich budget for the rest of this fiscal year, NCDC President Kevin Brown said. Global City Norwich also has been approved for $150,000 over three years from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act grant, and Braboy will seek additional grant funding for programs.

Global City Norwich was created in April 2018 with a $100,000 grant from the Chelsea Groton Bank Foundation with a goal to spark excitement and revitaliza­tion downtown by tapping into the city’s growing diversity. The organizati­on under founding coordinato­r Suki Lagrito hosted ethnic festivals, ran new business training courses and bring in new businesses to fill vacant storefront­s.

Braboy said the energy was flowing Wednesday evening, when she held her first meetand-greet with representa­tives from city government, schools and civic organizati­ons. More than 45 people attended to wish her well and offer ideas for Global City Norwich going forward.

She said people loved the festivals, but they really want more activities and opportunit­ies for youths and young adults in Norwich, from after-school enrichment to job training and creativity outlets for high school graduates.

Global City Norwich will participat­e in many large and small local events in the coming months, including the frequent flag-raising ceremonies to honor country independen­ce days or key holidays, the Rose Arts Festival in late June and food festivals hosted by church and civic groups. Braboy hopes to collaborat­e with those groups to plan future events, including possibly a large internatio­nal food festival.

For the next two weeks, Braboy and NCDC staff will examine the budget and work on relaunchin­g the program.

“I did not want to see this city lose the momentum built by Suki and (retired Chelsea Groton Bank president) Michael Rauh and the Chelsea Groton Foundation and everyone who worked to build that momentum,” Brown said, “There was value in sustaining the effort.”

NCDC put Global City Norwich “on pause” last September with Brown targeting March of this year to relaunch the program.

Braboy was a “walk-in” applicant, who came to NCDC’s Foundry 66 headquarte­rs to discuss community needs and ideas with NAACP Past President Shiela Hayes and Southeaste­rn Connecticu­t Cultural Coalition Executive Director Wendy Bury.

Brown said she shined in the vetting process with her Norwich roots, background and enthusiasm.

Braboy grew up in Norwich with six brothers and one sister. She graduated from Norwich Free Academy in 2011. She left the region to live and work in Texas and in Cleveland. She currently serves as a minister and co-leader of youth programs at Evans Memorial AME Zion Church in downtown Norwich and is studying to become an optician at Middlesex Community College in Middletown.

“My whole life I have worked in different capacities with youth, elderly, and worked with people of different abilities,” Braboy said. “I think that has given me the ability, the perspectiv­e to meet a person where they’re at and understand their needs. Not just basic needs, like food and clothing, but the need to express yourself, the need for creativity, the need to love and be loved.”

 ?? CLAIRE BESSETTE/THE DAY ?? Bobbie Braboy of Norwich is the new program manager for Global City Norwich, which coordinate­s events that feature the city’s diverse ethnic communitie­s and assists entreprene­urs in launching new businesses.
CLAIRE BESSETTE/THE DAY Bobbie Braboy of Norwich is the new program manager for Global City Norwich, which coordinate­s events that feature the city’s diverse ethnic communitie­s and assists entreprene­urs in launching new businesses.

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