When the Hartford-Springfield Economic Partnership was created
in 2000, the response was underwhelming. Yes, Hartford and
Springfield share an airport, a highway and a river - and
even shared the Whalers briefly - but no one thought of the
two cities as part of a region. And, what good could come
Nearly five years later, we see the beginnings of a regional
consciousness, because several good things have come of it.
Officials from both cities
worked together to get federal funds to continue cleaning up
the Connecticut River. They sent delegations to six national
trade shows last year to market the region as "The
Knowledge Corridor," which stresses the region's nearly
three dozen colleges and universities as well as its educated
workforce, cultural attractions and white-collar industries.
This year, the colleges are rolling out a Web-based internship
program, the first of its kind in the country, aimed at connecting
college students with area businesses. The hope is that many
will decide to stay in the area after graduation, something almost
half of them don't do now. Also, the partnership has promoted
tourism in the area and plans to pursue the idea of a heritage
corridor around such sites as the Springfield and Colt armories,
Historic Deerfield and the Mark Twain House. Officials are also
working together on the proposed Springfield-Hartford-New Haven
commuter rail project.
The partnership, which was initiated by Northeast Utilities
executive Douglas Fisher, is a somewhat informal, nongovernmental
effort run by volunteers with a member-donated budget that is
barely five figures. It works because the two metro areas have
many of the same challenges and can achieve an economy of scale
by working together.
It makes sense to work together
on the river. From a marketing perspective, a combined Hartford-Springfield
presents the world with a bigger product, something employers
like to see. The six Connecticut valley counties on either
side of the state line are home to 1.6 million people, which
is in the same league with Orlando, Austin, San Jose and Raleigh-Durham.
Finally, the "Knowledge
Corridor" is a good way to put the region's best foot forward,
in the way that the Research Triangle works for Raleigh-Durham.
So, when the flight attendant
at Bradley says: "Welcome
to Hartford-Springfield," it isn't just the airport. For
more information see www.HartfordSpringfield.com.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at