Where Are They Now? Follow Up with Transport Hartford Coordinator Anthony Cherolis
Innovation Destination Hartford spoke with Anthony Cherolis, the Youth Program Director for the Center for Latino Progress and Program Manager of BiCi Co. in November 2016. Since then, Tony transitioned to become the Transport Hartford Coordinator, still at the Center.
The organization promotes youth and adult bicycle safety and works to increase the Hartford community’s mobility and access to jobs. IDH recently checked in with BiCi Co. for an update.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: What’s new?
ANTHONY CHEROLIS: BiCi Co. now has a functioning storefront that sells upcycled bicycles and parts and provides and bicycle service. As a social enterprise, this provides a portion of the Center’s operating budget for BiCi Co.-related programs.
BiCi Co. has initiated a Ride Club/ Race Team and started gathering sponsors for that aspect of our teen programs. One of the partners is Victus/J Rene coffee. We sell their coffee beans in the shop, and they sell our higher-end upcycled bicycles out of their West Hartford coffee shop on Park Road.
The Transport Hartford Academy was started in 2017, and we are continuing that multimodal, transit, and active transportation civic engagement suite of activities into 2018/2019. As part of that program, the Center was awarded a National Safety Council Road to Zero grant to reduce vulnerable user crashes, injuries, and fatalities. We have an active Facebook discussion group, Transport Hartford – Talking Transportation, around multimodal transportation issues and have been holding well-attended workshops. We are now planning a Multimodal and Transit Summit, which will take place November 19, 2018.
Also, in early 2017 the Center hired Joseph Dickerson to be the BiCi Co. Program Manager.
IDH: Have you experienced any major pivots since we featured your story?
TONY: We’ve been working on transportation, mobility, and jobs access from a more complete lens. We received a one-year grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for the 2017 Transport Hartford Academy. We have applied for additional Foundation funding to continue those efforts in 2018/2019.
The Center for Latino Progress recently announced a Road to Zero grant based on the work of the Transport Hartford Vision Zero Action Team to help Hartford reduce crashes and injuries/fatalities along corridors with known crash issues. We received funding for teen interns, community outreach, and traffic calming/crosswalk safety from July 2018 through June 2019.
LimeBike, a dockless bike share initiative, is coming to Hartford this spring. Associated with the Transport Hartford Academy Bike Share Action Team and the Leadership Greater Hartford Quest Bike Share Team.
IDH: Have you been involved with any startup resources in the region?
TONY: During our startup of BiCi Co. at the Center we worked with social enterprise consulting firm Civic Mind to create a three- to five-year strategic plan. That plan has been very helpful in conveying the vision of the BiCi Co. programs as they develop.
IDH: How are you building a customer base?
TONY: BiCi Co. relies on social media, growth in our contact list, word of mouth, and walk-in customers. During our initial months for the BiCi Co. storefront, we specifically did not do paid advertising while we focused on internal systems and staff/intern training. We are considering paid advertising in summer 2018 to increase sales and service income.
IDH: Where do you see the future for BiCi Co.?
TONY: We see ourselves opening more storefront hours, hiring more part-time staff (out of our intern trainees), and carrying a few new bicycles (in addition to upcycled bikes).
Bringing the Multimodal and Transit Summit to Hartford in November 2018 will provide a portion of Transport Hartford’s operating funds.
IDH: Tell us about the importance of encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship in Greater Hartford.
TONY: We feel it’s critically important to be planning for and executing professional development, mentoring, and entrepreneurial development with our Hartford teens and young adults. These are the future leaders. We will know that BiCi Co. has succeeded when we have multiple bike shops competing in the City of Hartford, opened by those trained at BiCi Co.
IDH: Aside from funding, what do you need most to move your company forward?
TONY: For non-profits in general, Hartford’s municipal and local foundation funding environment is very competitive and includes funding cycles that leave a non-profit with gaps. It is difficult to do community and individual development without consistent programming and skilled staff. The Center for Latino Progress is working to incorporate more social enterprise funding into the organization’s budget and is applying for national grants to diversify program funding.
We need Hartford streets designed for humans, safety, and a vibrant local economy—not just cars. We need the city to continue to redevelop buildings to increase housing in the city and for infill development to repurpose Hartford’s wasteful surface parking lots.
The City of Hartford has been doing a lot to move in this direction. In 2017, the zoning removed parking minimums from all new developments city wide, and the city is working right now on a city-wide bike plan. We already have Complete Streets baked into zoning regulations and a Complete Streets ordinance.
IDH: What’s next?
The BikeLIFE! – Hartford bicycle festival will take place during Hartford schools’ spring break week, Monday, April 9 through Saturday, April 14.
With the Transport Hartford Academy, we’re continuing the action teams, multimodal meetups, and workshops. We’ll start working on the Road to Zero Grant in July 2018.
We’re also looking forward to the Multimodal and Transit Summit in November.
You can find out about upcoming happenings BiCi Co. in the Spring 2018 Update/Newsletter.
Learn more about BiCi Co.
Learn more about the Transport Hartford Academy
READ: Transport Hartford – Get Involved