The Top 8 Reasons Entrepreneurs, Artists, and Developers are finding a perfect fit in Hartford, Connecticut.

This story originally appeared on Medium December 19, 2018.

We all love a good comeback, and Hartford, CT is in the midst of an exciting rebound right now.

While, historically, Hartford, CT has not been a city with which most entrepreneurs are deeply familiar, I’m confident they will be soon. There are 46 Techstars accelerators around the world in cities including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, London and Lisbon and Hartford. As the Managing Director for the STANLEY+Techstars Accelerator in Hartford, I think it’s important for founders to understand why they should consider building their business in Hartford, CT, a city which just made Inc’s “50 Best Places to Start Your Business” list.

At the center of Connecticut, a state with a rich history in innovation, mid-way between Boston and New York City, Hartford has made great strides in the urban revitalization of its core in the past few years and is attracting artists and entrepreneurs, investment from real estate developers, and a continued commitment from large U.S. corporations including Stanley Black & Decker, which recently placed its Manufactory 4.0 at One Constitution Plaza in downtown Hartford.

Here are the top 8 reasons why entrepreneurs, artists, and developers are flocking to Hartford, CT.

1. A Central Location, Close to Everything

 For those unfamiliar with Hartford, I’ll start with the basics. Hartford is the capital city of Connecticut, a New England state with a rich history of innovation and manufacturing, with borders touching New York, Long Island Sound, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. Just a 2.5 hour road trip to NYC or 1.5 hour road trip to Boston, Hartford is at the center of the Northeast technology corridor. As described on the MetroHartford Alliance site, you’ll find more than 23.5 million people within 2 hours of Hartford and within 200 miles “you’ll find 21 million jobs, 2 million companies, 13% of the US economy and 66% of the Canadian economy.”

2. Easy to Access

  • By Air: Hartford’s Bradley International Airport provides flights to a number of cities including direct flights to Dublin, Ireland on Aer Lingus.
  • By Rail: Hartford’s Union Station offers train service to multiple destinations including New York and Washington DC along commuter lines and access to Amtrak.
  • By Bus: There’s Wi-Fi enabled bus service to cities including Boston.
  • By car: The U.S. Highway system provides paths to Boston in just 1.5 hours. to New York City in just 2.5 hours, to ski resorts in New Hampshire and Vermont in 2 hours and to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean in just 1 hour.

3. Exceptional Higher Education Resources

The University of Connecticut’s innovative new Engineering and Science Building. (Photo courtesy Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Connecticut has an exceptional number of college graduates in the state, and has 39 universities and colleges including Yale University, the University of Connecticut, the United States Coast Guard Academy, Trinity College,the University of Hartford, Wesleyan University, and Connecticut College, to name a few, and 12 community college, many of which have advanced manufacturing programs like Goodwin College in East Hartford. The concentration of higher education programs provides a foundation for potential employment and for the highest caliber mentors.

4. World-Class Corporations

Connecticut is the headquarters location for 17 Fortune 500 companies and many other notable organizations including Stanley Black & Decker, Aetna, United Technologies, Charter Communications, XPO Logistics, Amphenol, Xerox, and Henkel.

5. A Thriving Center for Manufacturing

In addition to corporate facilities, there are several manufacturing centers in Connecticut. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, manufacturers in Connecticut account for “10.7% of the total output in the state, employing 9.3% of the workforce. Total output from manufacturing was $28.01 billion in 2017.”

6. Loads of Cultural Opportunities

A view from inside the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT.

Hartford is home to many cultural and entertainment destinations including the Mark Twain House, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Tony Award-Winning Hartford Stage, the Connecticut Science Center, Bushnell Park, and Elizabeth Park, just to name a few. There are also opportunities for sports enthusiasts to see the Hartford Yard Goats play at Dunkin Donuts Park, and the new Hartford Pro-soccer team, Hartford Athletic, play at Dillon Stadium in 2019.

7. Valuable Resources for Entrepreneurs

Beyond tapping into the large number of corporations, having simple ways to navigate across the tech corridor, resources from the academic communities, and several cultural opportunities, there are many systems to support entrepreneurs as they scale and develop their businesses.

As the Managing Director for the Techstars program, run in partnership with Stanley Black & Decker, I see an enormous opportunity for entrepreneurs in Hartford. Beyond the Techstars network and program, founders who are accepted into the STANLEY+Techstars accelerator benefit from gaining an inside view into Stanley Black & Decker and access to mentorship of the highest caliber. In our first year, we had companies from countries including Israel, Ireland, Canada and the Ukraine participate, and 4 of the 10 have opted to make a permanent presence in the state. You can read more about some of the exciting developments from our first year here.

In addition to the STANLEY+Techstars program, there are many co-working spaces such as Upward Hartford available to founders. There are also organizations including the Crossroads Venture Group (CVG) and CTNext, which exist to support entrepreneurs in the region, and global competitions such as Connecticut’s $5 million Venture Clash. For insurance-focused startups there is also an accelerator focused on innovations in insurance technology in Hartford.

8. Incredibly Affordable Real Estate

Financial resources for young companies and artists are often limited. So many founders and artists are attracted to Hartford for its competitive price point. With many of the same architectural bones as Boston and New York, with brownstone buildings, and factories primed for loft space, the price points in Hartford are pretty astonishing in comparison to neighboring cities.

For example here’s a recent listing for a brick Victorian in Hartford near downtown with over 3,000 square feet for $275,000.00 Here’s an example of what you would expect to pay in Boston for a brick building with more than 3,000 square feet: $3,895,000.00. From a real estate perspective, it seems like an opportunity for artists and developers on par with previous developments in places like Boston’s South End; Hoboken, NJ; or Park Slope, Brooklyn.

In summary, if you’re an entrepreneur looking for a city with proximity to large corporations for business development, access to world-class academia, cultural and entertainment options, with easy access to Boston and New York, at a comparatively affordable price, you must consider Hartford.

About the Author
Entrepreneur and lifelong learner Claudia Reuter is a Board Member and  Managing Director at Techstars (Stanley+Techstars Accelerator).