February 26, 2019

New Greater Hartford program designed to jumpstart small biz in “distressed” areas

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams.

A new program aimed at spurring small business growth in economically distressed areas has launched in Hartford's North End.

The Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program will be based at nonprofit Chrysalis Center, 255 Homestead Ave., providing area residents with job-training resources to help them grow their business in terms of revenue, profitability and job creation. It will debut May 29 during an all-day seminar.

ICCC was developed out of a partnership between the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the city of Hartford and Boston-based firm the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), officials announced Monday during an event at the Chrysalis Center.

City leaders and organizers addressed a crowd of 50-plus representatives from local hospitals, higher education, nonprofits and business organizations to underscore the merits of the program, which aims to foster new jobs, capital investments and economic activity in the area.

It will provide a free 40-hour training program to business owners of small- to middle-size companies in operation for at least two years and that prove they are equipped for potential growth.

Area C-suite executives, capital providers and other business leaders will lead instruction offering tips on team building, finance, marketing and other entrepreneurial skills. Individual coaching with local and virtual mentors will also be available.

The ICCC program was first seeded by a $25,000 grant from the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation, which also contributed an additional two-year, $275,000 grant to help fully implement the initiative.

The program has been deployed in 13 cities across the nation, including Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Memphis.

Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams said the program aligns with the organization's aim to reduce racial disparities in Hartford and the 28 nearby communities it serves.

"We know that one of the greatest challenges facing low-income people of color and women in urban communities is finding jobs after they have developed their skills," Williams said. "Local businesses drive our region's economy, and this new program provides the additional knowledge and resources needed to increase business revenue, which can help grow our local economy and create new jobs."

In Hartford, the foundation said about 5 percent of adults are unemployed, which is a slightly higher compared to the state's unemployment rate of about 4 percent. Also, more than 30 percent of city residents live below the poverty line with 76 percent being minority.

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