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Updated: October 18, 2020 Lifetime Achievement Awards 2020

Evans helps showcase CT biz to the world

Anne Evans spent her first stint in government in the early 1970s in the office of a congressman on Court Street in Middletown. Now she’s back in the same building, promoting the state’s businesses to the world as area director of the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration.

“I sort of went around the world and came back in 35 years to where I really wanted to be,” Evans said. “I went around the world and moved up nine floors.”

In between those two stints, Evans earned praise both as a businessperson and an environmental pioneer in the tire industry, championing new technology as head of her family business, City Tire of Middletown.

Founded by Evans’ grandfather, City Tire had grown to become one of the largest Firestone tire dealers and tire retreaders in the Northeast by the time she took the helm in 1978.

Evans’ early experience in politics served her well in a competitive and changing industry, allowing her to parlay her work ethic and experience in coalition-building to grow the company.

“It was a different opportunity to take skills I learned in government and politics to business,” Evans said.

Evans’ innovations at City Tire included developing special car clinics for women and “plain language” handouts for customers explaining repairs. Her leadership was recognized in 1984 when she was elected the youngest and first women president of the 800-member New England Independent Tire Dealers Association. Evans also became a leader on the issue of tire recycling, traveling the globe to promote tires as an alternative energy source.

Her expertise in international business made Evans a favored candidate to lead the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration in Connecticut, and she took the job in 2007 — just in time for the state to be hammered by a major recession.

Evans first moved to assemble a strong team to help state firms survive the downturn, then began reaching out to companies large and small to offer help with business development and exports. Trade missions abroad were launched to bolster efforts to strengthen the state’s export economy.

Under Evans’ leadership, the export office soon grew to support the international business efforts of more than 2,500 companies in the region, in addition to hosting events involving 1,200 firms a year.

“As a team we were able to make the Connecticut office one of the top offices in the country,” Evan said.

Major events supporting the state’s defense and aerospace industries are among Evans’ most prized accomplishments, including the International Space Summit last year that drew 300 people to Hartford to seek deals with Connecticut companies.

“Not only are we bringing the world to Connecticut but we’re bringing Connecticut to the world,” Evans said.

Now the pandemic has thrown up another challenge for state businesses, and Evans has taken the lead in moving the Commerce Department’s services online.

Despite recent blows to the economy, the state’s successful efforts to fight the virus and keep its economy on track bode well for the future, Evans said.

“We kept our manufacturing going, and the governor did a good job with that. I think we’re ready to go,” she said.

Evans added that the state still needs to be active in promoting its accomplishments.

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