HARTFORD/EAST HARTFORD INNOVATION PLACE
On June 6, 2017, the communities of Hartford and East Hartford were designated as an Innovation Place by CTNext, a subsidiary of Connecticut Innovations. This designation was made following the submission of a robust and comprehensive strategy for improving conditions for entrepreneurs and innovators within the region. This strategy is made up of several distinct initiatives, being implemented by a variety of community organizations and partnerships.
One portion of this strategy is focused on making the corridor between Hartford Hospital and Trinity College a more vibrant work/live/play environment. This area contains a high level of research activity, is readily accessible by public transportation, and is home to several key anchor institutions including Hartford HealthCare, Hartford Hospital (and CESI), the Institute of Living (IOL), Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Trinity College. However, it also faces challenges including a lack of foot traffic, continuity of development, and a “drive in/drive out” destination for the majority of its institutions’ workforce.
To accelerate the Trinity/Hartford Hospital area’s development as an Innovation Place, improvements are needed to better connect anchor employees to the community and to strengthen amenities in the surrounding neighborhood. Currently, the Trinity/Hartford Hospital area has few food and beverage establishments, and those that do exist often close early. The surrounding area also lacks access to fresh, healthy food. Major anchors feel isolated and insular, turned away from surrounding commercial corridors, and their staff and visitors typically have limited interaction with local street life.
Two initiatives designed to improve amenities in this corridor have already been planned and are underway:
Retail Space Assessment and Matching: a program designed by the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (SINA) and Trinity College to activate vacant spaces, buildings for sale and developable land for local retail. Space will first be inventoried, and then marketed to retail entrepreneurs, who will also be connected to sources of capital, financing, and business development support necessary for the businesses to succeed.
Small Business Grants: To support local restaurants and retailers, a grant program modeled after Detroit’s NEIdeas program, will be administered by Trinity College. Grants in the amount of $50,000 or less will be awarded to to area businesses through a competitive process to enhance the quality and attractiveness of the neighborhoods. Funds will be used to improve winning businesses’ physical spaces (e.g. façade and signage improvements and/or new features such as an outdoor patio or improved indoor seating).
However, the Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Place team is seeking proposals for a third initiative that will help to activate this area. Ideally, this new program or set of activities will complement the existing “placemaking” initiatives described above, and demonstrate significant progress towards demonstrating the potential of this area to transform into a vibrant work/live/play community over time.
CTNext is self-described as “a public/private network of entrepreneurs, mentors, service providers and others helping Connecticut’s most promising startups succeed and grow. In 2016, CTNext expanded to new initiatives helping key places in the state become magnets for talent, supporting entrepreneurship in higher education, and focusing more on growth-stage companies.” Innovation Places is the first of its programs to be implemented, and “seeks to support entrepreneurs and leaders developing places that will attract the talent high-growth enterprises need. It weaves together entrepreneurship support and relationship-building with physical planning and development.”
DESIRED OUTCOMES FOR PROPOSED ACTIVITIES:
The Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Places Team seeks innovative proposals for matching funding for activities which:
- Improve the quantity and selection of retail and/or food options within the Hartford Hospital/Trinity corridor
- Connect employees of the area’s anchor institutions to the larger community
- Improve foot traffic within the Hartford Hospital/Trinity corridor
- Help draw out Trinity students and staff from campus, encouraging them to explore the neighborhood immediately surrounding it, and connecting them to downtown Hartford
- Increase revenue opportunities for local retail and food entrepreneurs
- Encourage property development and improvement within the area
- Increase community engagement with the area’s anchor institutions
FUNDING AVAILABLE AND SCHEDULE:
Up to $75,000 in matching funding will be made available from the Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Place budget to support proposed activities. It is expected that these funds will be used to catalyze the development or expansion of activities that have already secured other financial or in-kind resources. Proposals that have a demonstrated plan for attaining financial sustainability over time without state funding are highly preferred.
All activities proposed must show demonstrable results against the above-mentioned outcomes by April 31, 2018. And, all funds must be spent by June 30, 2018.
Proposals shall include the following:
- Cover letter
- Firm profile, including organizational structure ( non-profit, quasi-public, for-profit organization) experience and services provided
- Team organizational chart – including members of the team, roles and responsibilities related to the provision of fiduciary agent services
- Resumes of key staff
- Project approach that addresses the above desired outcomes and outlines services provided
- Proposed measures of success and plan for measuring project outcomes and capturing lessons learned
- Funding required, including a clear budget for expenses, by category
- Description of matching financial and in-kind resources committed to project
- Relevant project experience
- Timeline for implementation and requirements of Innovation Places leadership
SCHEDULE FOR RESPONSE AND EVALUATION:
- December 22: Due date: Letter of intent to submit proposal
- January 5: Due date: Proposals from applicants
- January 29: Decision communicated to applicants
Innovation Places leadership will select a proposed program or set of activities based on the team’s demonstrated ability to help build community and interaction between stakeholders in the Hartford Hospital/Trinity corridor.
Specifically, the Planning Team seeks a team with a proven track record of:
- Working collaboratively with community stakeholders
- Planning and executing high quality events and programming
- Interest and investment in placemaking efforts in Hartford
- A firm understanding of how to assess outcomes, collect lessons learned, and build upon progress towards long term results
Please direct all letters of intent and proposals to Hartford/East Hartford Innovation Place Program Manager, Martha Kalen: firstname.lastname@example.org