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Ode to Norwich

Contrary to the impatient, and often- times prejudicial, real and substantive economic development takes a considerable amount of time and resources. In addition to those actualized costs, a hidden and more insidious hurdle of distorted perceptions, and a daft under- standing of economic history can surely slow any progress down. In the case of downtown Brunswick, a commercial key- stone to the city offers a glimpse into the not so distant past, Norwich Street. A once vibrant corridor of economic vitality and entrepreneurship is, in some cases, the newest frontier in the story of Brunswick’s renaissance. One caveat remains, though. Despite what was previously read in this paragraph, true entrepreneurialism and small business ownership never left Norwich Street. In fact, and to pull from a phrase usually applied to New York, if a business can make it there, they can make it anywhere.

Unfortunately, when one thinks of Norwich, it is the flaws and blemishes that tend to easily occupy the mind. A more challenging exercise, however, is it to celebrate those businesses who have made that street their home. Be it family-owned establishments that stretch generations, startups offering fresh ideas, products and services, or businesses that serve culturally diverse populations, Norwich Street contains all the qualities one would expect in a vibrant commercial district. Being one of the most important areas for the city and surrounding neighborhoods, it might come as a shock to find out that Norwich is in fact not a barren waste- land that is in need of saving, a common fallacy championed by outsiders who do not approve of an area.

Singlehandedly, it is the businesses and individuals that are making a real difference on Norwich Street. It is easy to critique and analyze from afar, but the true testament for the future comes from staple businesses like Central Hardware, Twin Oaks BBQ and El Puerto Azteca that serve more than their customers, but their community. It’s newcomers like Country Boy Cooking, Fat & Fine Crab Shack and Russell’s Sports Bar that are being the change for Norwich when others just talk. And finally, it’s the producers and makers such as Sundance Tile & Stone and baseball bat manufacturer Odin Lumber Company that see Norwich for what it is, a proving ground for economic activity and ideas.

By and by, there are many things needed for Norwich, like many things are needed for the City, the County, and even the Nation. One thing for Norwich, though, is that it is in ample supply of the entrepreneurial spirit. Often washed over by narratives, reports, and strategic plans, praising the successes of Norwich’s businesses seems to be out of vogue. When in fact these very organizations should be commended for keeping the lights on, providing jobs, and for exemplifying the American Dream.