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UConn Med Schools: A Home In Hartford?

Moving University Branches Would Help Create A Vital Synergy For City

By Pedro E. Segarra

January 30, 2011

Hartford means business. With statistics demonstrating that science, math, and technology are the fields of the future, moving the UConn Medical and Dental schools to downtown will put Connecticut's capital city ahead of the curve. We are already the center of commerce for a region of 1.2 million people and the job hub of the state.

Hartford is the home of more than 100,000 jobs; we need to create new and diverse opportunities to increase our competitiveness in this global economy.

While Hartford is at the epicenter of the insurance and financial worlds, we need to expand our horizons and continue to build upon the strengths of our economic engines, similar to what we have done so successfully with our Arts and Heritage Jobs Grant. This effort has expanded, created, and retained employment opportunities, especially for Hartford residents.

Intensifying our focus on medical research, training and technology is a natural fit because we are home to nationally recognized hospitals that can partner with the university to train and mentor today's students for what research clearly demonstrates are the jobs of tomorrow. These future medical professionals would be able to assist a community that is affected by such a wide range o health complications and help eradicate these health challenges.

This hands-on experience is consistent with the UConn's mission statement of being the state's public research university to "create and disseminate knowledge by means of scholarly and creative achievements, graduate and professional education, and outreach." Relocating these schools to Hartford would also build upon UConn's strong presence in Hartford, with its highly touted business and law schools that are engaged in our community and have focused on training local talent.

I have also extended the invitation to the University's School of Social Work to relocate here to be more accessible to the people who would benefit most from its programs.

Recruiting and retaining homegrown talent would be a huge windfall for the city, region and state. Connecticut has been feeling the effects of a brain and youth drain. Young people want to live in urban areas, to be around things that are happening. Bringing educational, employment and entertainment opportunities together will be a magnet for young people to want to experience Hartford.

For decades, the argument has been made to attract and develop a strong student and young professional population in Hartford to complement our already highly educated workforce and enhance the dynamics of the city. UConn, Capital Community College and Saint Joseph's School of Pharmacy are already lifting the mood and adding to the energy of life in downtown Hartford. UConn basketball games at XL Center feed into this experience as well.

Together, all of these downtown institutions increase the opportunities for residents to achieve personal satisfaction and higher education.

This ripple effect would go beyond education. It would also promote growth of spin-off opportunities. Government can foster growth and incubate an environment that is conducive to hiring by both small and large businesses. In fact, 63 percent of all new jobs created are done so by new businesses with fewer than 100 employees. A strong research and training experience in Hartford would inspire other medical-related businesses to identify Hartford as more than just a place to do business but to make our city a permanent home for years to come.

Hartford means business and moving the UConn Medical and Dental schools here is a perfect match. Hartford is perfectly positioned to grow a prosperous and healthy educational and economic environment. Working together, engaging stakeholders and embracing collaboration will place Hartford at the forefront of 21st-century research and development.

Pedro E. Segarra is the Mayor of Hartford.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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