In February, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, in partnership with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and the City of Hartford, announced the Hartford Area Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program to drive job creation, capital investment, and economic growth in underserved communities. After an extensive nomination process, 67 local businesses attended a full-day opening seminar at the Chrysalis Center in Hartford on Wednesday.
ICCC is a tuition-free, high-level executive education program that positions inner city businesses for long-term success. The program focuses on three critical elements for sustainable growth: capacity-building education, coaching, and connections to capital and capital providers. The Hartford area program targets small- and medium-sized businesses that have been in operation for at least two years, have strong growth potential, and need guidance on getting access to capital and building their capacity. The Hartford Foundation awarded the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) $325,000 in grants, including a contribution from Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation to bring the ICCC program to Hartford and its surrounding communities.
“The Hartford Foundation has invested substantially to support education, job training and workforce development programs to provide residents with the skills they need to obtain living-wage jobs,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “In our latest strategic plan, we are focusing on reducing disparities based on race, place and income. 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. As evidenced by the large number of businesses who applied to this program, there are businesses out there looking to grow and create new jobs and looking to access capital to make this happen.”
Research shows that there is a significant gap in access to capital for many inner city entrepreneurs, especially among minority- and women-owned businesses. According to the United States Minority Business Development Agency, minority- and women-owned businesses receive lower loans at higher interest rates, and are denied loans at a rate of 42 percent, compared to 16 percent among white-owned businesses. Connecticut organizations working with small and medium-sized businesses acknowledge the need to provide additional support for businesses ready for a second stage of growth.
“We’re thrilled that more than fifty Hartford businesses will benefit from the nationally-recognized Inner City Capital Connections Program,” said Mayor Luke Bronin. “Hartford small businesses employ our residents and serve our residents, and this opportunity to take a step back and position themselves for growth can have a significant impact in our community. I want to thank the Hartford Foundation for Public giving and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City for their investment in and commitment to our city.”
Implemented in 14 cities, including Boston, Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, and Philadelphia, ICCC supports diverse business owners in building capacity for sustainable growth in revenue, profitability, and employment. ICCC provides a tuition-free 40-hour leadership-training program over 6 months that begins with an educational seminar and webinar series, where participants learn strategy, leadership, team building, entrepreneurial finance, marketing, and financial options from top business faculty, CEOs, and capital providers. The program also offers one-on-one coaching with local and virtual mentors ranging from small business bankers to top consulting firms. At the culminating national conference, participants apply their training to connect with different capital providers, including private equity, venture capital, angel funds, and commercial banking.
ICCC collaborated with more than 50 local organizations serving Hartford area small and businesses including city officials, local anchor institutions, and community lenders to yield more than 250 nominations of local businesses to participate in their program.
“We are deeply grateful to the Hartford Foundation for its investment in this pioneering initiative we believe will have a profound impact on building a sustainable ecosystem of entrepreneurs who will grow more rapidly and create good-paying jobs for the region and its people,” says Steve Grossman, CEO of ICIC.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $758 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.