economy more prosperous
what we could become if we grew our population and economy: one of the nation's most prosperous regions
grow400: economy more prosperous
We’ve long been a home for innovators, entrepreneurs, and inventors. Our centuries-old knack for invention has seeded a next-generation innovation economy that is growing fast. Our colleges are expanding, and we’ve upped our game on the talented workforce, job training, and “new economy” work settings. We know we have strengths in financial services, insurance, health care, and advanced manufacturing. We must harness these strengths for the good of all, ensuring that we create an inclusive regional economy with a cohesive identity. We must also acknowledge and support the role of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the work of building a strong economy for people of all interests and skillsets. We must grow our population and economy to thrive.
Areas of Focus: Growth/Population, Innovation/Business, Knowledge/Workforce
Recommendations & Actions
Growth & Population
Hartford is not too small but too dispersed. The wide dispersion of mills along the river tributaries created population and work centers all across the valley. We need to promote higher density concentrations in order to create livable, walkable, sustainable centers, add population, create jobs, attract and retain talent. The region has very low density, especially compared to New York and Boston.
The region has not yet fully leveraged the value of its mid-point location between the megaregions’ two major metropolitan centers. The high cost of living and housing in Boston and New York positions Hartford as an attractive mid-size city with urban assets at an affordable price with room to grow. The Valley’s inland position will also be a growing asset as coastal cities contend with rising sea levels and shoreline loss.
Invest in quality-of-place amenities throughout our region in order to retain and attract talent. Examples of this could be trails, parks and plazas, mobility assets, community spaces, quality schools, and other assets that contribute to a sense of community. The Valley can better support its assets through funding at a regional scale, as nearly every other state funds through county governments. These funding structures enhance collective ownership and equitably tie regional use of assets to their funding.
Increase actual and perceived connectivity of downtowns and town centers by having both housing and workplaces co-located in order to reduce travel demand. Continue preparing sites for development, through brownfields remediation and infrastructure projects; grow our urban centers to dramatically increase our urban population and density in walkable, vibrant centers near transit.
Develop Hartford and East Hartford as twin cities which grow together across the Connecticut River. As these centers grow, create more connectivity across the river that bypasses the Interstate system, ideally by way of two or three local street bridges. This greater cohesion will capitalize on the attractiveness of waterfront living, and share economic benefits between municipalities, that would then amplify across the region.
Promote the region as an affordable alternative with big city amenities without big city costs, as a place to stay and pursue a career, raise a family, and call home.
To support the region’s countless small businesses, a “Buy Local. Play Local.” campaign that encourages residents to visit businesses and attractions that contribute to the local economy will create more economic opportunities at home. With that, we should expand internal tourism and promote resident habits of visiting sites and centers around the valley to spur economy activity.
Business & Innovation
Draw on Hartford’s long history as a center for business innovation in insurance, manufacturing, aerospace, and medical technology. Support and create programs designed to encourage businesses of all sizes.
Create a wide range of jobs, including middle-income employment that facilitates upward mobility.
Continue the Valley and Capital City’s recent resurgence as a center for innovation by encouraging imagination, ingenuity, and invention; build support entities for the entrepreneurial business cycle with safety nets for failure and restarts; and encourage venture capital activity around new and small business startups.
This could be accomplished through investing in high-speed internet, bolstering the airport with direct routes to national and international destinations, a new northeast rail corridor with higher or high-speed rail from New York to Boston. All of this is to encourage investment from sources outside the region.
Open up opportunities for insurance trusts, and leverage corporate investments to the mutual benefit of the regional and the company. Create a campaign to encourage companies and corporations, even those with a national or international footprint, to invest locally.
Knowledge & Workforce
The Rift Valley is lined with a string of major educational institutions, from New Haven to Northampton. The Knowledge Corridor branding should be elevated to highlight the region’s pipeline of advanced research, innovation, and high-quality talent. We must attract and retain talent from the Corridor.
As the economy changes, the region’s educational institutions must be strategic and nimble enough to educate the future workforce for jobs the economy will need, based upon the region’s strengths and workforce prospects.
Expand choices for co-working spaces, training centers, and accelerators. This will make the region attractive to startup companies looking for an affordable option with direct access to the numerous well-connected companies already in the region.
Innovation & Business: Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CRCOG 2019), Final Report of the Connecticut Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth (2018)
Knowledge & Workforce: Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CRCOG 2019), Metro Hartford TOD – Connecting People, Places, and Jobs (HFPG 2019), Knowledge Corridor, Knowledge Corridor Rail Workshop (RPA 2016)