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.


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.

Seven Communities Earn Grants to Strengthen Downtowns

Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC), the downtown revitalization and economic development non-profit, has selected seven organizations and municipalities to receive a total of $70,000 in  Preservation of Place grants this year.

The 2014 grants will be used to provide Connecticut communities in Bridgeport, Canton, Essex, New London, Norwalk, the Northwest corner, and Willimantic with targeted resources to increase their capacity to plan for preservation and revitalization initiatives in their downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.

The PreserCT Main Street LOGOvation 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.

"Historic preservation and the revitalization of our Main Streets create jobs, bring vacant buildings back on the tax rolls and add value and vitality to adjacent buildings and neighborhoods," said John Simone, CMSC President & CEO. "This year's winners are taking steps to implement these types of positive changes by proactively planning for the growth and improvement of their downtowns."

The selected organizations or initiatives will receive between $5,000 and $14,500 in Preservation of Place grant funds:

  • ·         Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District, for the creation of a plan that will use open spaces to facilitate creating placemaking in downtown Bridgeport
  • ·         Town of Canton, for the development of Collinsville Village Zoning Regulations;
  • ·         Town of Essex, for a Centerbrook Visioning & Action Plan;
  • ·         New London Main Street, for an organizational and leadership development and capacity-building plan,
  • ·         Norwalk 2.0, for the Freese Park Artist Village Plan;
  • ·         Northwest CT Regional Planning Collaborative, for Active Main Street: Enlivening Village Center Public Spaces;preservation of place
  • ·         Thread City Development, Inc. (Willimantic), for an organizational and leadership development plan.

"The diversity of locations, from the Northwest Corner of Connecticut to New London, matched with the diversity of projects, from creative placemaking in urban open spaces to organizational and leadership development that will improve the management function in downtown, will allow each community to respond to their greatest current need, actively creating their direction of growth," Simone said.

Since 2008, CMSC has awarded $376,130 through the Preservation new londonof Place grant program to twenty Connecticut communities, leveraging $842,727 in local Main Street initiatives. The program receives support from the State Historic Preservation Office with funds from the Community Investment Act.

Three CT School Districts Approach School Year Preparing for More Instruction Time

Last December, Connecticut was one of five states selected to participate in a pilot project by the TIME Collaborative to extend instruction time during the school year by 300 hours, in an initiative aimed at improving academic preparedness and boosting student achievement.  Seven Connecticut schools, in East Hartford, Meriden and New London, were selected along with schools in Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee.

The timetable for the efforts included planning and workshops during the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year, with the new, improved, lengthened academic calendar to take hold when students returned in the fall of 2013.  The new school year – and implementation - is fast approaching.-working-at-desk-r

The TIME Collaborative is a partnership between the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) to develop high-quality and sustainable expanded learning time schools. Through the Collaborative, Ford and NCTL are investing in and supporting a select group of states that agree to harness state resources and federal funds using new flexibilities afforded by the federal waiver process to add 300 hours of additional learning time for all students in participating schools.

Ford is providing funds to build state, district and school capacity to support the initiative and is underwriting NCTL’s planning and implementation support to district and schools. Schools in the three Connecticut districts planning to implement the increased instruction time  include:

EAST HARTFORD Thomas S. O’Connell Elementary School

MERIDEN Casimir Pulaski Elementary School John Barry Elementary School

NEW LONDON Jennings Elementary School Winthrop Magnet Elementary School Nathan Hale Elementary School Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School

In the TIME Collaborative program, “high quality expanded learning time schools redesign the traditional school day/year to empower each student with the knowledge, skills, and experiences needed for success in college and career.”  The guidelines include seven areas of focus:

  • Focused school-wide goals
  • Rigorous Academics
  • Differentiated Supports
  • Frequent Data Cycles
  • Targeted Teacher development
  • Engaging enrichment
  • Improved School Culture

Selected districts and schools will have the opportunity to re-engineer their school schedule , and expand opportunities for learning, enrichment and collaboration to improve student achievement, engagement, and teacher effectiveness.  They are also eligible to receive annual capacity building grants and deep technical assistance on effective implementation from NCTL at no cost, as well as joining a network of pioneering educators from across the country.-Time-Leaning-logo

The three-year pilot program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools in the five selected states, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools — especially those that serve low-income communities.

Plans called for the schools to implement a collaborative process that would involve the school districts, union leadership, teachers, community partners and parents.  The planning process would allow teams to develop an expanded-time schedule that provides a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum for all students; offers individualized help for students who are struggling; uses data and technology to inform and improve instruction; improves collaboration among teachers; provides enrichment opportunities in the arts, music and other areas critical to development; and promotes a culture of high achievement.

 A mix of federal, state and district funds will cover the costs of expanded learning time, with the Ford Foundation and the National Center on Time & Learning also contributing financial resources.  Just over 1,000 U.S. schools already operate on expanded schedules, an increase of 53 percent over 2009, according to a report from the National Center on Time & Learning.

“For districts that are falling behind, we want to give them the ability to implement the reforms that we know achieve results for students.  The additional funding we’re announcing today will allow for the intensive turnaround models that will help us close the nation’s largest achievement gap,” Governor Malloy said when the program was announced last December.

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