As one of three cities selected as part of a competitive process to participate in the Strong Cities Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative under the auspices of the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Hartford has 10 teams of economic development innovators coming down the home stretch in developing and outlining their inventive economic development proposals. The EDA-funded SC2 Hartford Challenge, launched 14 months ago, is in its final phase. Ten multidisciplinary teams of finalists are working on plans aimed at helping to establish Hartford as a “city for entrepreneurs.” The U.S. Economic Development Administration notes that the goal of the SC2 Hartford Challenge is to generate economic development plans that “both leverage local assets and compliment larger trends and opportunities.”
City and community leaders will judge the plans and choose six winners who will share $800,000 in prize money, with the top plan receiving $500,000. The City of Hartford and the EDA will jointly own the winning plans and be able to implement the ideas—both in Hartford and in other cities around the country. Plans are due this week, with six winners to be announced in May. Funds for the winning plans are provided by EDA.
The two other cities selected — Greensboro, N.C. and Las Vegas — opted to focus on a single project or hire a consulting firm. Hartford officials preferred to provide area residents with an opportunity to create locally-driven proposals and created an open competition, which initially saw 58 teams developing plans, which were then winnowed down to a top 10 last fall.
The most recent descriptions highlighting the teams’ respective economic development plans include:
Hartford.Health.Works (HHW) is an industry-led collaboration with the mission to increase the number of good quality jobs in Hartford by fostering healthcare technology development and manufacturing. To attract existing med tech companies and foster new companies, HHW is creating a FDA-approved, ISO-certified medical device prototyping and manufacturing plant in Hartford and implementing targeted programs to improve access to: A) expertise; B) capital; and C) markets. HHW is also developing biomedical engineering and precision manufacturing education and job training programs at the K-12, college, and graduate school levels. HHW founding partners include: Rising-Tide Health Care, BEACON, and Movia Robotics.
Choose Hartford is a comprehensive initiative to scale up businesses that will create a sustainable regional economy with long-term growth prospects and jobs. The plan aims to increase access to innovative capital options along with an across-the-board effort to ensure collaboration of local, regional, state and federal partners to create the best entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.
It’s All Here is an asset based economic development model which will build wealth and raise incomes in all of Hartford’s neighborhoods. The team believes that self-employment and small business ownership is the best way to build a new future for all of the city’s residents. Lasting, sustainable economic development has to be built on the talents of city residents, giving access and visibility to new markets and service providers using an interactive website, a multi-lingual call center, physical market locations, and turnkey digital street signage.
Made in Hartford is an entrepreneurial ecosystem to empower Hartford’s community. With a culture of innovation, tradition of industrial adaptation, and healthy urban core, Hartford is ripe for attracting and retaining entrepreneurs. The plan recommends coordinated, strategic actions that will work in tandem with existing investments to provide a sustainable ecosystem for first-time and serial entrepreneurs. Central to this ecosystem is ‘Made-in-Hartford’, a seed accelerator that will cultivate industries and businesses through incubation, mentoring, equity-capital and partnerships. Made-in-Hartford targets Hartford’s established industry clusters and human capital to spark much-needed economic diversification, and at its maturity ancillary initiatives will incentivizing successful entrepreneurs to reinvest in this entrepreneurial ecosystem, bringing about an economic renaissance.
Team Fotofiction: For those of us in the business of innovation, our mantra is: Think outside the box. Unconventional success isn’t born with conventional thinking. Game-changing, outside-the-box ideas often emerge from the most unexpected places. Re-purposing shipping containers is innovative and cutting edge, yet not unproven. From Los Angeles to New Zealand, these containers are being used for a variety of new purposes. The FRATE concept: to create an urban community, where people will live, work, dine and shop in a dynamic, trend-setting environment constructed entirely of modified shipping containers. FRATE thinks inside the box. FRATE is that game changer.
Solutionists focuses on remediating the economic environment that qualified Hartford for the SC2 Challenge, viewing the task as developing a strategy that will result in increased employment opportunities for Hartford residents -- now, and in the future. The plan embraces Social Enterprise and Collective Impact strategies by creating an ecosystem of spirit, policy and financial incentives that encourage and support Social Entrepreneurs in their efforts to start and grow the types of businesses that will produce desired results for Hartford and the Region.
#lovehartford will implement low cost interventions that promote economic development, foster social interactions, and support changing transportation dynamics founded on the growing demand for affordable urban environments that support the sharing economy and reduce reliance on the private automobile. Short-term projects include the demonstration of open streets with pop-up markets and food trucks. Longer-term projects include a bike share system and support for other evolving transportation technology, like the driverless car. #lovehartford will offer micro-loans to grow small business, and will look to provide locations that include creative placemaking through murals, public art, and other cultural programming.
Also among the ten competitors are Entrepreneur Foundation, community bootstrapping through entrepreneurship; Made at Swift, a food-driven innovation cluster to create jobs and improve population health; and CJM Innovations, fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem for students and young professionals.