Knowledge Corridor to Gain Boost as More Frequent Rail Runs Through It

For years, the tag line has been “innovation runs through it.”  In the coming year, there will also be more frequent rail service running through it, and that may make all the difference in the world. When proponents of economic development in what’s known as “New England’s Knowledge Corridor” get together for a conference this fall, it will be with the backdrop of the three anchor cities that span two states – New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield – being more connected than ever, with the start of the new regular rail service between the cities just months away.

The half-day conference, “Leveraging the Knowledge Corridor’s Transportation Assets and Investments to Drive Economic Progress,” will be held at Union Station in Springfield on October 18.  It will serve as the coalition’s 2017 “State of the Region” conference.

The keynote speaker will be Robert Puentes, President/CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation.  Panelists will include five members of Congress from the region:  Richard Neal and James McGovern from Massachusetts and John Larson, Rosa DeLauro, and Elizabeth Esty from Connecticut.

Plans also include talks by Connecticut Commissioner of Transportation James Redeker and his counterpart in the Bay State, Stephanie Pollack, Secretary/CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  Officials also anticipate releasing the results of the 2017 New England Knowledge Corridor Business Survey.

"In the Knowledge Corridor, we’re convinced that the transportation assets we have; new ones that will be coming online in the  next year or two, plus; those we are planning to see realized over a longer range time line constitute the bedrock of a competitive 21st century economy that enables ready and affordable access to skilled workers, attractive markets and motivated consumers on a global scale," Tim Brennan, Chairman of New England Knowledge Corridor Partnership and Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, told CT by the Numbers.

On Monday, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced that a joint venture of TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts has been selected as the service provider that will operate and manage service on the Hartford Line – which is expected to launch in May 2018.

Work is continuing throughout the summer, including grade crossing upgrades in Wallingford this month, as part of the overall upgrade of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line – now branded as the CTrail Hartford Line, with expanded service scheduled to being in 2018, according to transportation officials.  Last month, construction in Meriden and Windsor included track construction upgrades.

New England’s Knowledge Corridor is an interstate partnership of regional economic development, planning, business, tourism and educational institutions that work together to advance the region’s economic progress. The region “transcends political boundaries,” officials point out, and it comprises the Hartford, Springfield and New Haven metro areas and is centered on seven counties in the two states, underscoring the area’s “rich tradition of inventions, research and higher education.”

The New Haven-Hartford-Springfield (NHHS) Rail Program is a partnership between the State of Connecticut, Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration.  The goal is to provide those living, working or traveling between New Haven, Hartford and Springfield with high speed rail service equal to the nation’s best rail passenger service, officials emphasize.

The Hartford Line will act as a regional link with connections to existing rail services, including Metro-North, Shoreline East, and Amtrak Acela high-speed rail services on both the New Haven Line to New York and on the Northeast Corridor to New London and Boston. There will also be direct bus connections to the Bradley Airport Flyer and to CTfastrak.  With a heightened level of direct and connecting service linking the region, the hope is that towns along the future Hartford Line will become magnets for growth – ideal places to live and to relocate businesses that depend on regional markets and travel.

All of which dovetails perfectly with the “selling points” routinely used to promote the Corridor:

  • Academic Powerhouse – One of the country’s highest academic concentrations and largest capacities for research, with 41 colleges and universities and 215,000 students
  • Exceptional Achievement – Consistently among the nation’s top 10 in percentage of the population with advanced degrees, science-engineering doctorates and new patents registered
  • Big, Concentrated Market – The nation’s 20th largest metro region, with over 2.77 million people, is comparable to Denver and St. Louis, but with twice their population density, which means ready access to labor and consumers
  • Large Workforce – A labor force of 1.34 million, 50% larger than the Charlotte metro area
  • Business Hub – 64,000 businesses – 60 percent more than the Austin metro

"Providing frequent, reliable, commuter rail service connecting New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, the three major cities that anchor the Knowledge Corridor and its over 2.7 million people, will be nothing short of a game changer enabling the cross border region’s to reach its potential as an economic powerhouse within New England while simultaneously linking it to the white hot economies found in the Boston and New York City mega regions," Brennan added.

The CTrail Hartford Line rail service will operate at speeds up to 110 mph, cutting travel time between Springfield and New Haven to as little as 81 minutes. Travelers at New Haven, Wallingford, Meriden, Berlin, Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Springfield will be able to board trains approximately every 30 minutes during the peak morning and evening rush hour and hourly during the rest of day, with direct or connecting service to New York City and multiple frequencies to Boston or Vermont (via Springfield).  New train stations also are in various stages of development in North Haven, Newington, West Hartford and Enfield.

Also, very much a part of the strengthening transportation options with the potential to spur economic development is Bradley International Airport, which recently has added international flights on Aer Lingus (last year) and Norwegian Air (last month) and a direct-to-San Francisco route via United Airlines.

Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin A. Dillon said the aim is to “build on Bradley’s strengths and continue our focus to deliver more convenience and connectivity for our region.  Flying to Europe from Bradley has never been easier and more affordable.”

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) conducted a bidding process and cost-benefit analysis for the Hartford Line program and selected TransitAmerica Services and Alternate Concepts, which are forming a joint venture solely for the purpose of serving the Hartford Line. This marks the first time that CTDOT has been able to select and contract with an experienced service provider for a major transportation program, a more cost-efficient alternative to the agency creating a separate internal unit and hiring employees to manage the Hartford Line, according to state officials.

Changes on the Way in New Haven Media Coverage

The news media focused on New Haven is undergoing some changes, as one publication ends, a new electronic weekly business news round-up is about to begin, and a longtime local business paper is changing its subscription system, reducing the number of non-paying subscribers. New Haven Living magazine, published by the Hartford Courant Media Group in recent years, will cease publication with its January edition, the company recently announced.  The New Haven-focused edition of the weekly CTNOW. an entertainment section, will also cease publication, last publishing on Dec. 29, the company said.

The Courant plans to continue publishing Hartford Magazine and the Hartford edition of CTNOW.  new-havenEach monthly addition of New Haven Living was nearly identical to Hartford Magazine, usually with a handful of New Haven-focused articles and features added.  The Courant reported that it made the decision while evaluating opportunities to invest in higher-growth areas and the cost of distribution in Greater New Haven.

Business New Haven, which began publication in 1993, announced in its latest issue that “we are changing our publishing approach” in an open letter to readers from veteran publisher Mitchell Young, under the headline “The Time Has Come To Decide.  Do You Want Business New Haven?”

Young says that “only paid subscribers will be guaranteed” to be included on the newspaper’s circulation list beginning with the next issue.  Subscriptions to the monthly print edition will be $24 per year.

“We believe in the value of quality local publications and we hope you find us worth the cost of a lunch – perhaps that is a way of saying there is No Free Lunch,” the full-page letter said.

bnhA limited number of promotional copies will be limited “based on a proprietary algorithm for the support of our advertisers,” Young noted.  He also indicated that plans are in the works to expand the publication’s website in the next year, as “we try to build our subscriber base” for the print edition.  Business New Haven also publishes the monthly New Haven Magazine.

The Hartford Business Journal (HBJ), which prints a weekly print edition in the Hartford region and has a roster of electronic news publications and business-oriented events, added a statewide daily email aimed at business executives statewide in 2013.  The  paper recently announced that for those doing business in New Haven and Middlesex Counties, a weekly news round-up, New Haven Biz, will be added to the HBJ e-mail line-up on February 1.

The email is slated to deliver a weekly roundup of business news and information from the Elm City and beyond, the paper’s website explains. The Hartford Business Journal recently had a prominent location at the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Big Connect annual business-to-business event to promote the upcoming news service.

The publication also emails HBJ Today each weekday at noontime highlighting the day’s lead business stories.  Subscriptions to the email-delivered news products, which also include the CT Health Care Weekly and CT Green Guide Weekly, are free.   CT Morning Blend includes the top business stories from online news sources around the state and the nation “to keep business decision-makers ahead of the competition.” It also includes a stock market snapshot and a business calendar.

HBJ, with a strong local presence in Greater Hartford for more than two decades, is published by New England Business Media, which also publishes the Worcester Business Journal and MaineBiz.  It also sponsors the annual CT Business Expo at the Connecticut Convention Center and numerous business programs and events in the region.

$80,000 in Grants Boost Preservation Initiatives in 7 CT Communities

Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC), the downtown revitalization and economic development non-profit, has selected seven organizations and municipalities to receive a share of $80,400 in 2016 Preservation of Place grants. The grants will be used to provide communities in Bridgeport, Canton, Haddam, Fairfield, New Britain, New Haven (Westville Village) and Simsbury with targeted resources to increase their capacity to plan for preservation and revitalization initiatives in their downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. place

This year's awards are notable because two applicants, Canton and New Britain, sought the grant funds to pursue the creation of tax increment financing (TIF) districts, made possible through the passage of legislation in 2015 that was proposed by a coalition led by CMSC. TIF is a financing mechanism in which an investment in a specified area is repaid over time using the increased tax revenue generated by the investment.

"The projects funded through this year's Preservation of Place round have the potential to be transformative for these communities," said John Simone, CMSC's President & CEO.  "Canton and New Britain may very well become the models for creating successful TIF districts, while Haddam's award can help set the foundation for a unified, mixed-use commercial area that marries their historic charm with a modern, connected design. Certainly, all of the communities represented are as diverse in location as in their unique character, but each has something wonderful to offer, which will only be enhanced through the use of these grant funds."

The Preservation of Place grant program provides a source of funding for new initiatives that can be integrated into, and leverage, comprehensive Main Street preservation and revitalization programs.  The funds are meant to be flexible to meet individual community need.

The 2016 recipients of Preservation of Place grant funds are:BPT creates

  • Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District - Awarded $10,400 for Bridgeport CREATES, Phase II, to assist in the pre-development activities associated with the creation of a Maker Space/ Innovation Center.
  • Town of Canton - Awarded $10,000 for a Tax Increment Financing Master Plan for Collinsville Center & the Collins Company Complex to develop a viable TIF agreement, master plan and district to help develop the historic complex.
  • Town of Haddam - Awarded $10,000 for a Market Analysis & Village District Zoning Regulations for Tylerville in order to assess viable businesses and draft zoning regulations that will allow for and promote such businesses, as well as mixed-use development, in this historic area.
  • Town of Fairfield - Awarded $10,000 for a Signage & Wayfinding Program for Downtown & Neighboring Commercial Districts to help visitors and residents navigate their way around downtown Fairfield's many prominent cultural, tourist and academic attractions.
  • New Britain Downtown District - Awarded $10,000 to work in conjunction with the City on the Creation of a Tax Increment Financing District for transit oriented development around the CTfastrak terminus.
  • Westville Village Renaissance Alliance (New Haven) - Awarded $20,000 for the Westville Village Comprehensive Plan: The Visioning Phase, a comprehensive plan to guide a sustainable and place-based approach to long-term economic and physical development.
  • Simsbury Main Street Partnership - Awarded $10,000 for a Comprehensive Parking Study of Downtown to develop specific parking recommendations, including short- and long-term solutions.

Since 2008, the Preservation of Place grant program has leveraged over $1 million of investment in local Main Street initiatives. Connecticut Main Street Center and the Preservation of Place grant program receive support from the State Historic Preservation Office, with funds from the State of Connecticut through the Community Investment Act.

Two Connecticut Librarians Receive National Public Service Recognition

Ten librarians from around the country – including two from Connecticut, in New Haven and Groton - were honored this month with this year’s I Love My Librarian Award for their exceptional public service to the community and ongoing commitment to transforming lives through education and lifelong learning. The winning librarians were selected from a pool of more than 1,300 nominations submitted by library patrons nationwide who use public, school, college, community college or university libraries. The nominations detailed stories about how their favorite librarians helped improve the quality of life in their communities. The last time Connecticut had a winner was in 2012.  There were two winners from the state in 2012 and in 2011.ilml2015-250-400_0

The nation’s more than 166,000 certified librarians “continue to play a vital role in assisting and inspiring all who seek information and access to technologies,” according to officials. “The I Love My Librarian Award winners are living examples of how library professionals are expanding beyond their traditional functions and providing more opportunities for community engagement and delivering new services that connect closely with patrons’ needs.”

The Connecticut recipients of the national recognition are:

brown-dianeDiane Brown is branch manager of the New Haven Free Public Library’s Stetson Branch. Known as the “urban librarian” to her patrons, Brown develops valuable programs and services to meet the needs of the underserved residents in a community with high rates of poverty, crime and low literacy levels.  Under Brown’s leadership, the library has been transformed into a true community center. She brings residents together by hosting cultural and educational events such as an international “pop up” festival, art exhibits, lectures and health fairs, according to officials.  She has been praised for facilitating an afterschool tutoring program for K-8 students and providing opportunities for children and their families to spend time together by establishing history and game nights.

“It is gratifying to have the I Love My Librarian Award bring much deserved recognition to librarians. As libraries transform so do librarians to support individual opportunity and community progress,” said Sari Feldman, president of the American Library Association. “Every day librarians connect library users with the books, information and critical technology resources they need to thrive in the digital age.”

Each winning librarian will receive a $5,000 prize at an award ceremony and reception held in New York City, hosted by the philanthropic foundation Carnegie Corporation of New York, which sponsors the award. The New York Public Library and The New York Times are co-sponsors of the award, which is administered by the American Library Association.

rumery-e-2Elizabeth G. Rumery, library director for the Avery Point Campus Library at the University of Connecticut in Groton, has “transformed the library into a welcoming and dynamic place for students by modernizing the facility to meet the needs of 21st century learners.”  Officials indicate that she worked with contractors and school administrators on renovating the library, with improvements including new media rooms and collaborative study spaces for students and faculty.

Rumery has also expanded services to create a safe haven for students, establishing a place in the library where anyone can talk with her about concerns related to GLBTQ, depression or other personal issues. She finds the appropriate help and resources they may need. She also serves as an advisor for the student gay/straight ALLIANCE club at the campus.

The other recipients in 2015 are librarians in Texas, California, Alaska, North Carolina, Missouri, Alabama and Mississippi.  In addition to Connecticut, there were two recipients from Texas.

The award recipients include a librarian who fought censorship when residents attempted to ban and remove books from the shelves, a librarian who works with incarcerated youth at a school within a juvenile hall, a librarian who fostered a deeper understanding of the Muslim world by facilitating a campus exhibit and lecture and a librarian whose efforts helped raise student reading scores significantly at an underserved elementary school.

Stetsonver22013The librarians join “an esteemed group of award recipients who are recognized as being catalysts for powerful individual and community change.” Only 80 librarians have received the national award since its inception in 2008, including six from Connecticut.  In 2012, the recipients were Rachel Hyland, Tunxis Community College Library in Farmington, and Rae Anne Locke, Saugatuck Elementary "Secret Garden" Library in Westport. The 2011 winners included Jennifer O. Keohane, The Simsbury Public Library and Michelle Luhtala, New Canaan High School Library.

For more information regarding the 2015 I Love My Librarian Award recipients, go to

Three CT Metro Regions Reach Top 50 in USA for Well-Being of Residents

The well-being of residents in three of Connecticut’s metropolitan areas are among the nation’s top 50, ranking at #36, #37 and #48 in a national survey of community well-being that evaluated the top 100 metro regions in the country. The 2014 Community Well-Being Rankings are the latest annual surveys by the polling company Gallup and the consulting firm Healthways. Reaching the top 50 from Connecticut were the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region (#36), West Hartford-Hartford-East Hartford (#37), and New Haven-Milford (#48), based on U.S. Census tract data. wbi_logo

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, surveyed residents to get a sense of their social, physical and financial health, as well as their sense of purpose and connections to their community -- all factors that contribute greatly to worker productivity, societal health costs and the economic competitiveness of a place, according to the polling firms as reported by Governing Magazine.

The 2014 rankings are based on 55-question surveys of about 176,000 people across all 50 states. The score for each community included metrics affecting overall well-being and five elements of well-being:

  • Purpose: liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals
  • Social: having supportive relationships and love in your life
  • Financial: managing your economic life to reduce stress and increase security
  • Community: liking where you live, feeling safe and having pride in your community
  • Physical: having good health and enough energy to get things done daily

mapThe Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk region ranked #5 in physical health, #43 in financial health, #58 in community ties, #63 in sense of purpose and #88 in social health.

The Hartford - West Hartford – East Hartford region ranked #18 in financial health, #20 in physical health, #30 in social health, #61 in sense of purpose and #62 in community ties.

The New Haven-Milford region ranked #6 in physical health, #47 in sense of purpose, #48 in social ties, #50 in financial ties, and #91 in community ties.

The South, Southwest and West Coast dominated the top 30, with Boston the only Northeast city, reaching that high.  California, North Carolina, Texas all have two communities in the top cover

Leading the list was Florida’s North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area, which performed especially well in financial and physical health. Honolulu, Raleigh, California’s Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura area and El Paso, Texas, rounded out the top five.

El Paso was the only community to take the top ranking in two categories: sense of purpose and physical health.  That was also the only category to see a Connecticut metropolitan area reach the top 10. Elsewhere in New England, Providence-Warwick ranked #70.

The survey found that residents of high well-being communities exercise more frequently -- an important aspect of physical well-being -- but they are also more likely to report that someone close to them encourages them to be healthy, a critical component of social well-being. They are much less likely to be obese, they have fewer significant chronic health conditions, and they feel safe where they live. Those who feel safe where they live are, in turn, more likely to have access to a safe place to exercise and access to fresh produce, which are important community characteristics that are linked to lower levels of obesity.

Each community, defined as a metropolitan statistical area under the U.S. Census Bureau, received a rank in each category according to the strength of the responses from their residents and an overall rank as well.

Residents of the top well-being locations in the U.S. are “more likely to be thriving across each of the five critical elements of well-being, thus capitalizing on the synergistic benefits of each element acting in concert with one another,” the survey analysis indicated. “This may reflect what is perhaps the most important factor separating the nation's high well-being communities from those with lower well-being: a holistic view of well-being.”

Immigration Drives Growth, Vibrancy of New Haven Region, Study Finds

If Greater New Haven is thriving, the region’s rapidly-growing immigrant population is a key reason, according to a new research study. The report, entitled Understanding the Impact of Immigration in Greater New Haven, compiles data from federal, state and local government agencies, as well as information generated locally by DataHaven and The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven. Viewed as “an important step in its effort to enhance the civic and economic participation of immigrants in Greater New Haven,” the report was undertaken to provide a snapshot of the immigrants living in Greater New Haven and Connecticut, the impact of local population change and diversity, and the community and economic impact. It is intended to help the general public, policymakers and local leaders understand the impact of immigration in the region to inform discussions and community action.UIGNH_cover_600

According to the report:

  • Approximately 1 in 8 residents of Greater New Haven is foreign-born, originating in countries in all the world’s regions.
  • While the native-born population in Greater New Haven has barely increased since 2000, immigrants settling in the area have caused rapid population growth, making New Haven the fastest-growing city in Connecticut over this period
  • About half of all immigrants are naturalized US citizens; the other half are legal permanent residents, legal temporary residents or undocumented immigrants.
  • Greater New Haven is attracting immigrants from a wide range of countries, with the greatest increases in numerical terms between 2000-2012 attributable to immigration from Mexico (3,168), India (2,729), China (2,292), Jamaica (1,532) and Ecuador (1,382).This report explores how immigration impacts the development of both Greater New Haven and Connecticut.

“It is clear from the report that the Greater New Haven community is enhanced in many ways by immigration,” says William W. Ginsberg, President & CEO of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. “The data demonstrate that our rapidly growing foreign-born population is successfully building productive and contributing lives here – by working, by creating small businesses that build wealth, by owning homes, by educating their children, and by contributing to the diversity and cultural richness of this community.”foreign born population

The report also cites data indicating that the immigrant population in Greater New Haven is highly-skilled, compared to other areas. Among immigrants in this region, there are more than twice as many high-skilled workers as low-skilled workers in the region, while data for the United States as a whole show slightly less than one high-skilled worker for every low-skilled worker.

From 2000 to 2012, Greater New Haven’s population as a whole increased by more than 27,000 people, according to the report. Of that growth, about 75 percent (20,165) were foreign-born residents. About half of immigrants in Greater New Haven are naturalized citizens.

The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven explored local public opinion on immigration by interviewing key stakeholders and administering an online survey to its constituents. The survey found that “although immigration is a complex issue, the Greater New Haven community widely agrees that foreign-born people contribute to the economic, cultural, and social well-being of the region.”  Nearly all (97 percent) respondents said that the issue of immigration is very or somewhat important to Connecticut.  Only 31 percent of respondents thought they understood immigration policy extremely or fairly well.

pop growthIn New Haven’s neighborhoods in particular, the boost in immigrants has revitalized communities and spurred new businesses.  From 1970 to 1990, the foreign-born population in most New Haven neighborhoods remained flat or declined, and these neighborhoods suffered from overall population decline—similar to other central city neighborhoods in post-industrial cities. Since 1990, the report found, the foreign-born population in many city neighborhoods has rebounded sharply, particularly in areas such as Edgewood, West River, Fair Haven, and the Hill. These areas have seen a large influx of population and business haven map

Statewide, among Connecticut’s immigrant population entering the US since 2000, only 15 percent are Europeans. 29 percent were born in Asia, and 19 percent come from South America. By contrast, 78 percent of Connecticut’s immigrant population that entered the US before 1960 was born in Europe.

The report was compiled and written by Mary Buchanan and Mark Abraham of DataHaven, with assistance from staff at The Community Foundation.

In 2015, The Community Foundation’s work will include dedicated grantmaking and other support for nonprofits working in this area, including support for advocacy efforts on State and Federal immigration policy, efforts to identify and support emerging leaders in the immigrant community, and public education and other efforts to enhance the community’s understanding of the social, cultural and economic benefits of immigration for Greater New Haven.

“New Haven has always been a welcoming community, and the surge of immigration in recent years shows us yet again how important immigration is to the growth and success of our community,” Ginsberg added.The Community Foundation is making immigrant integration a strategic focus with the goal that immigrants in Greater New Haven, including undocumented, will achieve greater civic and economic participation and success thereby becoming more fully integrated members of a more welcoming community, the report indicates.

More information on the Foundation’s philanthropy is available at The report is available online at  or by calling The Community Foundation at 203-777-2386.

Municipal Equality Index Finds CT Above Average for LGBT Residents

Connecticut cities continue to rank above-average when compared with municipalities across the country in the level of equality provided to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) residents.  Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Storrs (Mansfield) were the five Connecticut municipalities included by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, in an assessment of LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation. index report

The 2014 Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the only nationwide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in Connecticut, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBT people and workers, even when states and the federal government have not.

The average score for the five municipalities in Connecticut was 74 out of 100 points, comfortably above the national average of 59.  The individual scores in Connecticut, largely unchanged from a year ago, were New Haven: 100, Hartford: 92, Stamford: 62, Storrs (Mansfield): 59, and Bridgeport: 57.  The scores earned by Hartford and Bridgeport dropped slightly from a year ago, and New Haven scored at 100 for the second consecutive year.  Because of changes in the legal landscape from year to year, the MEI report has revised the scoring assessment criteria, which has impacted scores in some municipalities.

Cities are rated on a scale of 0-100, based on the city’s laws, policies, benefits, and services. Key findings contained in the 70-page MEI report, issued in partnershiphrc-logo with the Equality Federation, provide “a revealing snapshot of LGBT equality in municipalities of varying sizes, and from every state in the nation,” the report noted.

The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories:

  • Non-discrimination laws
  • Relationship recognition
  • Municipality’s employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting non-discrimination requirements, and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees
  • Inclusiveness of city services
  • Law enforcement
  • Municipal leadership on matters of equality

The cities researched for the 2014 MEI include the 50 state capitals, the 200 most populous cities in the country, the four largest cities in every state, the city home to each state’s largest public university, and an equal mix of 75 of the nation’s large, mid-size and small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.

The report found that “momentum for municipal equality is not a coastal trend or mega-urban phenomenon – it is something cities of all sizes in all parts of the country are doing because the people in those cities demand equality of treatment for all.”  Cities had an opportunity to review the draft scorecard and offer feedback prior to publication.

Equality and Economic Development

The report also indicates that “a growing body of research has shown that cities that have vibrant gay and lesbian communities have higher levels of income, life satisfaction, housing values, and emotional attachment to their community as well as higher concentrations of high-tech business. The Fortune 500 has long recognized that top talent is attracted to inclusiveness. In fact, the private sector has been using fair workplaces as a tool to recruit and retain top talent.”

The report adds that “Businesses will increasingly have to evaluate the legal landscape offered by a potential new location in its calculation of where to expand operations.”  Connecticut’s state laws – such as marriage equity and non-discrimination protections – provide a hospitable environment for its cities to employ equitable practices, officials said, but municipalities also have the capacity to take the lead, in Connecticut and elsewhere.  In ten states, cities fare well despite restricbusinesstive state laws.

“From Mississippi to Idaho, mid-size cities and small towns have become the single greatest engine of progress for LGBT equality--changing countless lives for the better,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “In just three years, the number of municipalities earning top marks for their treatment of LGBT citizens has more than tripled. Simply put, in this country there is an ongoing race to the top to treat all people, including LGBT people, fairly under the law, and it’s time our state and federal laws caught up.”

According to the report, the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and Western regions of the United States – where marriage equality states have predominated – tend to do better than the national average when it comes to municipal equality. The reported pointed out, however, that every region has at least one 100-point city, such as New Haven. For example, in the Southeast, Florida boasts three 100-point scores, and Atlanta repeats its perfect score again in 2014; in the Southwest, Austin repeats its perfect score; and in the Plains, Iowa City joins two perfect scores in Missouri with St. Louis and Kansas City.

Thirty-eight cities earned perfect 100-point scores, up from 25 in 2013 and 11 in 2012, the first year of the MEI. New Haven earned a 100-point score, helping to set a standard of LGBT inclusiveness with exemplary policies ranging from non-discrimination laws and equal employee benefits, to cutting edge city services.

Among the report’s striking findings:  A dramatic increase in the number of cities offering transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits, and the fact that 32 million people have better protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity at the local level then they do from state law. The full report is available online at

CT stat

Most Exciting in Connecticut? New Haven, New London, Hartford Lead the Way

Wondering where the most exciting places are in Connecticut? If New Haven is the first place that comes to mind, you’re right. New Haven was named the “Most Exciting Place in Connecticut,” followed by New London, Hartford, Stamford, and Manchester in an analysis by the real estate website Movoto. Described as “the most thrilling, the most rousing, and the most downright exciting,” the top 10 list for Connecticut includes five Fairfield County municipalities and many of the state's largest cities: TOP10

1. City of New Haven 2. City of New London 3. City of Hartford 4. City of Stamford (tie) 4. Town of Manchester (tie) 6. City of Bridgeport 7. City of Norwalk 8. Town of West Hartford 9. Town of Greenwich 10. Town of Westport

The website’s analysis pointed out that “New Haven had a ton of nightlife and music venues per capita” and was “much more densely populated than most other places in the state.” New London scored points in the website’s analysis for its “high percentage of young folks (just like New Haven, 36 percent between 18 and 34), and for its high number of nightlife options, music venues, and arts per capita.” New London ranked No. 1 in both nightlife and music venues, and No. 2 for its arts.

The highlights for Hartford noted that the Capitol City is “the second-most densely populated place in Connecticut; a good portion of that population is between the ages of 18 and 34- 31 percent, to be exact. With bars like Pourhouse and the Russian Lady, music venues like Webster Theatre, and so many museums, galleries, and festivals we can’t even name them all, Hartford is certainly way more exciting than just insurance.”

In order to come up with the list of 10, the website started out with a list of all the places in Connecticut with populations of 10,000 or more, according to the U.S. Census (2010), which provided 38 towns and cities. Then, they used the Census and business listings to assess:

  • Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
  • Live music venues per capita
  • Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
  • Arts and Entertainment per capita (movie theaters, festivals, galleries, theaters, etc.)
  • Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
  • Percentage of restaurants that are not fast food (the higher the better)
  • Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)
  • Population density (the higher the better)

The municipalities were then ranked with scores from one to 38, where the lower the score, the more exciting the place.

Two Greater Hartford communities, in addition to the city, made the list – Manchester and West Hartford.

“Manchester also scored highly for its number of arts and entertainment options per capita, like the unique MCC on Main,” a program of Manchester Community College located on Main Street in the heart of the town. West Hartford, the website reported, “seemed to find its excitement, not in the nightlife … but in lots of healthy options,” including sports stores, gyms, galleries, theaters and “tons of restaurants.” Westport “really shined” in the number of yoga studios, sports stores, running clubs, parks, and places to get fit.”

Falling just outside the top 10 were West Haven, Stratford, Torrington, Middletown, Groton, New Britain, Storrs, Danbury, Derby and Wethersfield.


More Bicycling, Walking to Work; New Haven Leads the Way in Connecticut

Connecticut has the smallest percentage of people walking to work among states in the Northeast, and is one of two states with the smallest percentage of people who bicycle to work, according to newly released U.S. Census data.  Nationwide, both walking and bicycling to work are on the rise. Between 2000 and 2008–2012, the number of workers in the U.S. who traveled to work by bicycle increased by 60.8 percent, from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000. This increase in the number of bicycle commuters exceeded the percentage increase of all other travel modes during that period, but the overall share of workers who commute bnew haveny bicycle remains low, according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey. In 1980, 0.5 percent of workers commuted by bicycle. This rate dropped to 0.4 percent in 1990, where it remained in 2000, before nudging upward in the latest survey.

The 2008–2012 5-year data show that, among the approximately 140 million workers in the United States during that period, 2.8 percent walked to work and 0.6 percent commuted by bicycle, compared with 86.2 percent of workers who drove alone or carpooled to work.

walk toAmong the nation’s medium sized-cities, (with pbike to workopulations between 100,000 and 199,999) New Haven ranks at #5 with 12.4 percent walking to work and at #10 with 2.7 percent of the population using bicycles to get to work. Hartford ranks at #10 among the top walk-to-work medium sized cities with 8.2 percent, and did not reach the top 15 in bicyclists.

The top medium-sized cities for percent of the population walking to work were Cambridge, Berkley, Ann Arbor, and Provo, just ahead of New Haven. The top bicycle-to-work medium sized cities were Boulder, Eugene, Berkeley, Cambridge, and Fort Collins.

The nation’s #1 walk-to-work city is Boston (15.1 percent) followed by Washington, Pittsburgh, New York, San Francisco and Madison. For bicycling to work, the top cities are Portland (6.1 percent), Madison, Minneapolis, Boise and Seattle.

The nationwide data indicates that:

  • The combined rate of bicycle commuting for the 50 largest U.S. cities increased from 0.6 percent in 2000 to 1.0 percent in 2008–2012.
  • The Northeast showed the highest rate of walking to work at 4.7 percent of workers, while the West had the highest rate of biking to work at 1.1 percent. The South had the lowest rate of biking and walking to work.
  • Younger workers, those aged 16 to 24, had the highest rate of walking to work at 6.8 percent.
  • At 0.8 percent, the rate of bicycle commuting for men was more than double that of women at 0.3 percent.

The percentage of workers age 16 and over who carpool to work is below 10 percent in each of Connecticut’s eight counties, with the exception of Windham County, at 10.5 percent.

Fairfield County has longest commute, most use of mass transit

The walk to workaverage commute to work in Connecticut is about 25 minutes, ranging from 28 minutes in Fairfield County, 27 minutes in Litchfield County, 26 minutes in Windham County, 25 minutes in Middlesex County and Tolland County, to 24 minutes in New Haven County, 23 minutes in New London County, and 22 minutes in Hartford County.

The highest percentage of workers using public transportation to reach their place of employment each day is in Fairfield County, at 8.9 percent, more than double the percentage of the next highest county, New Haven County, at 4.1 percent.

The Census Bureau released a new commuting edition of the interactive map Census Explorer, which gives Web visitors easy click-and-zoom access to commuting statistics for every neighborhood in the U.S. It also shows how commuting has changed since 1990 at the neighborhood, county and state level — including how long it takes to get to work, commutes longer than an hour, and number of bikers. It uses statistics from the American Community Survey, the national source of commuting statistics down to the neighborhood level.

New Haven Ranks as Best Connecticut City for Jobs

The Best Cities for Jobs in America? They’re generally not in Connecticut, according to a new national analysis, but a number of the states' leading metropolitan areas are moving up the list compared with their counterparts across the country. The New Haven, Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, and Norwich-New London metropolitan areas all edged up the list compared with their rankings a year ago. Danbury dropped slightly. Hartford-East Hartford-West Hartford’s ranking was virtually unchanged.

The rankings of the nation’s cities was developed by the website newgeography, and published this week.

Among 92 Medium Sibestcities2014zed Cities that were ranked, New Haven ranked #42 (up from #65 last year) and Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamfordnew haven ranked at #58 (up from #85 last year) and saw the 10th largest advance among the medium sized cities.

Danbury ranked #122 (down from #111 last year) and Norwich-New London at #231 (up from #233 last year) among 240 Small Sized Cities that were analyzed.

In the rankings of the nation’s Large Sized Cities, the Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford region ranked #48, nearly identical to last year’s ranking of #47. The top rated cities included San Jose, San Francisco, Austin, Raleigh, Houston, Nashville, New York City, Orlando, Dallas and Denver.

This year's rankings use five measures of growth to rank all 398 metro areas for which full data sets were available from the past 10 years.

  • "Large" areas include those with a current nonfarm employment base of at least 450,000 jobs.
  • "Midsize" areas range from 150,000 to 450,000 jobs.
  • "Small" areas have as many as 150,000 jobs. This year’s rankings reflect the current size of each MSAs employment.

Among all 398 cities, New Haven and Danbury were the highest ranked from Connecticut, at #207 and #208 respectively. New Haven jumped 50 places in the overall ranking compared with last year; Danbury dropped 11 slots from a year ago.

The top-ranked city overall was Bismarck, North Dakota, which ranked first out of the 398 metro areas considered in the annual roundup of The Best Cities For Jobs. A metro area of 120,000 located in the country’s fastest-growing state and near the vast Bakken oil fields, the number of jobs in Bismarck is up 3 percent over the last year and 32.4 percent since 2002. Only one MSA—Modesto, CA—changed size categories moving from “Small” to “Midsized.”

The methodology for the 2014 rankings, according to newgeography, largely corresponds to that used in previous years, which emphasizes the robustness of a region's growth both recently and over time, with a minor addition to mitigate the volatility that the Great Recession has introduced into the time series. The rankings use five measures of growth to rank all 398 metro areas for which full data sets were available from the past 10 years.

The goal of the rankings methodology, according to the publication, is to capture a snapshot of the present and prospective employment outlook in each MSA and allow the reader to have a better sense of employment climate in each.

Included are all of the metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports monthly employment data. They are derived from three-month rolling averages of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics "state and area" unadjusted employment data reported from November 2002 to January 2014.