What is Hart Lift?

Through the Hart Lift program, the Hartford Chamber of Commerce is directing up to $6M of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to property owners throughout the City of Hartford who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds must be fully distributed by December 31, 2024.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many property owners were unable to secure tenants in vacant storefronts, which created a reduction in revenues, increased costs, and an escalation of deserted business corridors. The goal of Hart Lift is to uplift these property owners and connect small business owners to opportunities for storefront space in Hartford.

The pandemic also created opportunities for “covidpreneurs” to actualize their dreams of business ownership—and current business owners to think about expanding or enhancing their businesses.

The Hart Lift program was announced in December 2021. Since then, many property and small business owners have collaborated and applied for grants. On April 19, 2022, key leadership involved in the Hart Lift program held a press gathering to provide an update.

Addressing a group of local entrepreneurs and supporters of Hartford’s small business community gathered in an empty restaurant that closed as a result of the pandemic, Mayor Luke Bronin said he’s thrilled to see the space “brought back to life” as a result of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce’s Hart Lift program.

The space on Trumbull Street will become RAW, a new venture from Gina Luari, Owner of The Place 2 Be restaurant group, which is also receiving Hart Lift funding. RAW was one of 15 new businesses* announced in the Hart Lift’s second cohort (see complete list below).

“It’s exciting to see the amount of demand for the program,” said Mayor Bronin, who thanked the entrepreneurs and organizations that made everything possible. “It’s a true public-private partnership,” he added.

“The City of Hartford is going to look very different in the next 12 to 8 months,” noted Hartford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julio Concepción, who also thanked the entrepreneurs who are making it happen.

The Hartford Chamber itself was also acknowledged for its efforts by the mayor and by Gina, who said, “You do more than any chamber I’ve ever experienced.” She also emphasized that she’s “excited to add back to the hospitality ecosystem in Hartford.”

The 25 Hart Lift grants approved to date include:

All My Sons Moving Co.*
40 Airport Road (.) $150,000

Aroma’s Café*
100 Constitution Plaza

16 New Park Avenue

Bloom Bake Shop*
80 Pratt Street

Brothers Johnson Hat Co.
213 Garden Street

Cantina Hartford
900 Main Street

Capitol Ice Cream
389 Capitol Avenue

Corner 3
103 Pratt Street

Connecticut Lighting Centers*
312 Murphy Road

Four Dad’s Pub*
114 Asylum Street

Frenchie’s Creole Grill*
485 Main Street

Kenney’s Restaurant
379 Capitol Avenue

La Casita de Sabor Express*
1200 Park Street

Lyons Den
77 Pratt Street

Parkville Sounds*
1800 Park Street

The Place 2 Be
275 Pearl Street

Pretty Girl Inventory
207 Garden Street

280 Trumbull Street

Rinzed Laundromat*
1605-1607 Park Street

44 Pratt Street

State House Distilling Co.*
30 State House

Story & Soil Coffee
387 Capitol Avenue

Taste 111*
111 Pearl Street

Tropix Caribbean Grille*
3229 Main Street

Yardpoker Clothing and Design*
1631 Park Street

*Businesses announced at the April 19 press conference.

NOTE: Due to the large amount of interest in the Hart Lift program, the Hartford Chamber of Commerce is currently only accepting applications from property owners with a vacant storefront.