Regional Leaders Craft Economic Strategy for Metro Hartford
New Metro Hartford Future Report Highlights Key Opportunities to Advance the Region’s Economy
The Metro Hartford Metropolitan Region has released its new strategy to achieve inclusive economic growth and strengthen its position in the global economy. The development of the Community Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for Greater Hartford, as also referred to as Metro Harford Future, is required by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and is the result of a regionally owned planning process designed to build capacity and guide the economic prosperity and resiliency of a region. This strategy represents the collective efforts of The Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), in partnership with the MetroHartford Alliance (MHA) and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving as well as a wide variety of local stakeholders to rally the region around a focused and actionable set of goals and strategies for economic development.
To achieve the vision of Inclusive Growth in the Hartford region, Metro Hartford Future identifies three goals:
- Talent: Educate, train and retain talent - with a focus on underserved and underrepresented populations to better meet the needs of the region’s employers and to create jobs paying a family living wage.
- Invest: Enhance the quality of place amenities throughout our region to retain and attract talent.
- Brand: Strengthen collaboration to support and promote the region.
“The metropolitan region has an amazing asset base to build on to accelerate economic development for the region’s one million residents,” said CRCOG Executive Director Lyle Wray. “A key is having the talent available needed by firms to grow and to having residents in well-paying jobs. The Metro Hartford Future is directed to these two priorities.”
Beginning in February 2018, the group retained Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting to complete a situational assessment and develop several “game changer” initiatives to serve as the core of a new economic development strategy. The process was led by an advisory committee comprised of representatives of businesses, governments, educational institutions and non-profits throughout the region. A working group comprised of partner organizations worked closely with the consulting team and the advisory committee to develop a regional vision and an actionable plan. The CEDS identifies potential partner organizations and creates a recommended structure to implement the initiatives.
“There is only one way our region will achieve equitable and sustainable economic growth. We must eschew the past squabbles and divisions that have kept us mired in anemic progress,” said Jay Williams, president of the Hartford Foundation and co-chair of the CEDS Advisory Committee. “This report marks the beginning of our commitment to a bold, collaborative, and pragmatic approach that develops the roadmap to capitalize on the enormous talent and multiple assets our region possesses. I’ve seen the success of this approach in other parts of the country, and if we have the collective will, there is absolutely no reason it can’t occur here.”
The “Talent” strategies highlighted in the Metro Hartford Future report take a long-term, multi-faceted approach that provides students multiple pathways, moves underserved and underrepresented students into family living-wage careers and focuses on the region’s traded economy, rather than services.
These three strategies are the building blocks for talent development:
- Create a world-class talent system, using comprehensive labor-market analysis, a workforce skills training fund and empowered industry-sector partnerships.
- Significantly increase the supply of talent for high-opportunity industries using a dual-track training model that provides work-based learning, aligned classroom learning, and valuable credentials/credit for students.
- Retain talent by connecting college graduates to employers.
The Metro Hartford Future’s “Invest” strategies focus on investments in quality-of-place amenities throughout our region in order to retain and attract talent. As Metro Hartford seeks to grow its population and economy, it must begin with investments in place.
The following strategies seek to improve quality of place in the region:
- Create a regional fund to drive investment in quality of place assets.
- Increase connectivity within and outside of the region, including to Boston and NYC via rail.
- Support investment in the region’s downtowns.
- Continue preparing sites for development, through brownfields remediation and infrastructure projects.
The Metro Hartford Future’s “Brand” strategy seeks to promote the region’s industry strengths to increase investment. By working as a region under a shared Brand and towards a shared vision, the region can aim to buck its projected decline, expand its workforce (Talent) and develop its shared infrastructure (Invest).
Metro Hartford possesses significant concentrations of several key, high-opportunity industries, including advanced manufacturing and aerospace; business services, finance, and insurance; and biomedical devices. Cost advantages make the Hartford region attractive for activities where transportation costs are not an issue: business services, IT support, information processing and digital design activities, especially when compared with other metro areas in the Northeast.
The following strategies seek to promote the region’s industry strengths:
- Create a coordinated regional approach to business retention, expansion and attraction.
- Scale efforts to support high-opportunity sectors through entrepreneurship.
- Support the growth and expansion of Bradley Airport.
“Economic development is a team sport and this report highlights the collaborative approach to ensure the Hartford Region offers a culture of rich business development, world-class companies in various sectors, a vibrant urban core with the Hartford Chamber of Commerce supporting our Capital City, and one of the most educated workforces in the country, said MetroHartford Alliance President and CEO David Griggs.
To download a copy of the Executive Summary of the Metro Hartford Future go to www.hfpg.org/CEDS2019ES
To download a copy of the full Metro Hartford Future report go to www.hfpg.org/CEDS2019