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State Senator

John Fonfara

Representing Hartford & Wethersfield

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Fonfara Announces Approval of Grant for Hartford's Innovation Places Project

Grant to provide for development of plan to encourage entrepreneurship in Hartford

Hartford’s plans for jump-starting the local innovation economy will move forward as the result of a grant announced today by Senator John Fonfara (D-Hartford). The CTNext Program has awarded a $50,000 grant, the maximum amount offered, to jump-start the development of Hartford’s “Innovation Places.”

These Innovation Places will serve as communities where young entrepreneurs can begin a business in an affordable location with co-working opportunities and nearby assets needed for growth. Locations like these are being created around Connecticut as the result of a comprehensive law designed by Senator Fonfara to help Connecticut embrace the innovation economy.

“I believe that our economic future is in embracing the innovation economy, which Hartford has already begun to do,” said Senator Fonfara. “Local officials, business leaders and educators have come together, some for the first time, to begin the process of creating ‘Innovation Places’ in Hartford. This grant will allow us to move forward toward a goal of connecting Connecticut’s bright, young minds with experienced entrepreneurs who will help them turn innovative ideas into new, growing businesses. Startup companies like these generate more jobs and economic growth than large businesses. That’s what we need here in Hartford and throughout our state and these grants will help get us there.”

“It has been a pleasure to engage a truly diverse group of stakeholders in this effort so far. We have benefitted from institutional leadership from the University of Hartford, Trinity College, and the University of Connecticut, as well as Hartford Hospital, Metro Hartford Alliance, reSET, and the City of Hartford and Town of East Hartford. A number of the region’s established and emerging entrepreneurs have also been actively involved, which will be key to our ability to continue to make progress. Our team also looks forward to engaging other key stakeholders over the next four months. This program presents an incredible opportunity for Hartford and the region to gain traction as a logical place for innovators and entrepreneurs to thrive,” said Michelle Cote, Managing Director of the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University Of Connecticut School Of Business.

Under this new economic development plan, Innovation Places will be concentrated areas where entrepreneurs and innovators have easy access to tech talent, support organizations and research institutions. These dense areas are intended to be highly walkable, transit-connected, and mixed-use in zoning to facilitate interactions among entrepreneurs and innovators across different organizations, and to be conducive to the creation of startup companies. This environment is intended to be attractive not only for entrepreneurs to work in, but also to live in and for recreation, to help the community retain the most in-demand workers.

This $50,000 grant will be used in the development of a strategic planning process to identify local conditions and build a master plan that identifies the resources and assets in each community (like a hospital, a university, a research firm, or a manufacturer) to create exciting new business opportunities. The program was designed to be publicly supported and privately led, with communities leveraging public funding to generate a larger amount of private investment and business growth.

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