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When Plymouth Magazine last caught up with Ryan Chadwick ’00, the entrepreneur was innovating the housing market, developing new seafood markets, and sharing his eclectic interests with Plymouth State students. Two years later these initiatives have broadened, deepened, and have been joined by new concepts, including a jazz club and charter sailing around New York Harbor.
A successful restauranteur with a string of popular properties, Chadwick realized that the lack of affordable employee housing in upscale locations was often a limiting factor. He founded Stay Kondo, a firm devoted to tiny houses built with environmentally-friendly materials, originally as a sideline, but has since made the cause of workforce housing his main focus.
“We’re acquiring land and now have ten acres under contract in Basalt, Colorado, 20 miles from Aspen,” says Chadwick. “I’m also going to be meeting with the U.S. Forest Service in what could be a very big partnership for micro, entry-level housing on Forest Service land that’s not currently being used.”
An avid diver and spearfisherman, Chadwick became aware of reef degradation in the Bahamas caused by lionfish, an invasive species. His introduction of the fish to diners via his Caribbean-style restaurant, Norman’s Cay, has grown into a major undertaking, and recently concluded an agreement with a co-op of 275 fishermen in Belize to provide enough lionfish to meet burgeoning demand. “There aren’t enough fishermen in the US catching lionfish so we need a whole country,” he jokes.
Chadwick’s existing restaurants in Aspen, Montauk, and New York are being joined by his newest foray, the Canary Club, featuring French Creole cuisine and a jazz club. He’s also in business now as the owner of a historic, 1919 vintage, 70-foot yacht, the Ventura, which catches the wind and waves between Manhattan and Liberty islands.
Chadwick generously funded an illustrator to render professional depictions of students’ project proposals.
His many successes have earned him the Enactus Alumni Hall of Fame Award, and new business interests and their attendant responsibilities have not diminished his continued devotion to his alma mater. Chadwick returns to campus frequently, offering business guidance to Panther Pitch contestants, catching up with friends at Homecoming, and helping to plan PSU’s Greek renaissance as a member of the Greek Advisory Council. For the past two years, he’s worked with Professor Bonnie Bechard’s Organizational Communications students, who brainstorm how to revitalize economically-depressed communities across the nation from the millennial point of view.
“Students have picked places as diverse as Providence, Rhode Island; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Detroit; and small towns in Maine and New Hampshire,” says Chadwick. “I ask them to research everything from crime rates to population, wages, what rentals cost, property taxes, and more. They do really in-depth studies of why people aren’t living there and what it might take for people to move back.”
Students get into the details of the real estate market and why it may have collapsed in some areas, and of social problems that can manifest themselves in drug and alcohol issues and high suicide rates. “It’s to get them thinking outside of the box and not just come up with textbook answers,” he says. “Students from different disciplines work together as a team, as PSU is encouraging them to do through Integrated Clusters.”
“Partnering with him has been a great learning experience for our students,” says Bechard, who taught Chadwick in his student days. “Ryan is so entrepreneurial and such an inspiration to them.”
Chadwick gives the University as much time as his schedule permits, and has made an enduring commitment to assist students in financial need through the Ryan Chadwick Entrepreneurship Scholarship in Business. The Plymouth State community is quite fortunate to have an alumnus of such achievement and insight who is so willing to mentor tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. ■ Peter Lee Miller