Hartford Will Use $1 Million Federal Grant To Nurture Tech Firms
By MARA LEE
October 01, 2012
The city of Hartford will use a $1 million federal grant announced Monday to develop a program that will benefit fledgling and growing technology companies over the next 18 months.
Hartford will solicit bids from urban planning firms to design economic development proposals — all in advance of its opening 3,000 square feet of office space at 360 Constitution Plaza for use as a tech incubator, a location where tech firms can tap coaching and other available services.
The three firms with the top proposals will share $200,000 of the grant, and the winner of the competition will receive a second round of funding to help implement its plan, according to Thomas Deller, director of the city's department of development services.
The rest of the money will help pay for technical assistance to the firms and the rest of the accelerator operation — and possibly other initiatives proposed by the winning firm.
Hartford was one of three cities nationwide chosen for a $1 million grant for economically distressed municipalities. The other two are Las Vegas, in the state with the highest unemployment in the nation, and Greensboro. N.C.
"Government works best when it's a collective enterprise," said U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, speaking at a press conference Monday celebrating the grant. He said the firms will develop a plan to engage the academic sector, the entrepreneurial sector, and the public sector.
"No mayor of Hartford, and perhaps no mayor in Connecticut travels to Washington as [Pedro Segarra] has," Larson said, calling him an effective lobbyist on behalf of Hartford.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said, "I look forward to this million dollars to leading to even more investment by the federal government."
The city has also received $10 million from Washington to support its iQuilt project, designed to encourage visits to cultural assets downtown and promote pedestrian traffic and bicycle use.
Stephen Cole, the city employee who wrote the grant application, said Hartford will identify some companies that are just beginning to get off the ground, as well as "stage two companies ready to grow," and will support both groups.
None of the money will go directly to the companies, but Cole said the city will help the firms get access to capital, whether through the state-supported Connecticut Innovations, or through networking with private investors.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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