The city of Hartford has embarked on an ambitious plan to rejuvenate the regional Hartford economy to encourage investment and encourage diversification of the economy.
Highlights of Hartford’s Economy
- The Connecticut Convention Center, provides over 140,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 40,000 square foot ballroom and 25,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, supporting the .
- The Connecticut Science Center is an educational, entertaining learning center of interactive exhibits, theatres, classrooms, meeting rooms. Tourists and regional visitors can be attracted by the interesting exhibits and the quality of facilities.
- Riverfront improvement funding supports “Riverfront Recapture” to improve pedestrian access to the river.
- Rentschler Field is a stadium built to help build a reputation in the US for the quality of University of Connecticut’s football program.
- Downtown Marriott Hartford (rated with 4 AAA diamonds) offers 401 rooms, 13,000 square feet of meeting space and 13 meeting rooms
- Wadsworth Atheneum is the nation’s oldest public art museum.
- Hartford Civic Center (Hartford 21) is a residential, retail and entertainment center
- Hartford’s Bradley International Airport is currently the second largest in New England, hosting 7.4 million passengers per year. It offers flights to 72 destinations, including 22 daily direct flights to Chicago, 39 daily direct flights to Washington-Baltimore and daily non-stop flights to Europe through Amsterdam. Its infrastructure includes over 15,000 parking spaces, which is well-aligned for tourism and conferences.
Benefits of Doing Business in Hartford, Connecticut
Further impacting the development of Greater Hartford is its location vis-à-vis other regional cities. The city is located inland, halfway between New York (2 hour drive) and Boston (1 ½ hours). Development is also influenced by population. Hartford’s population is 124,570, and its surrounding areas include an even larger population of 3.4 million state-wide, and 1.6 million in the Knowledge Corridor from Hartford to Western Massachusetts. Below is a list of competitor cities with their corresponding estimated populations, as of 2006:
To become a premier destination, central location and ease of transport are crucial. Hartford has taken steps towards railroad connectivity by linking with Springfield and New York City, but taking further steps by improving rail infrastructure will become even more important in the coming years. Boosting rail traffic, passenger volume, railway infrastructure and federal grants can help boost economic opportunities.
Business Growth in Connecticut
The City of Hartford and the region offer attractive workforce productivity, accessibility, income levels, technology, education, the arts and heritage. Hartford itself offers communications, infrastructure, parkland and nature trails, health care, public safety and amenities.
Connecticut’s economy has seen job growth and was supported by the expansion of the global economy and favorable economic incentives and conditions. GDP in 2017 was growing and was estimated at $260 billion, larger than the GDP of many nations in the world. In particular, the economy experienced notable job growth across manufacturing, educational services and exports sectors. Connecticut businesses have benefited from assistance services including financing, regulatory and location assistance from local organizations like the Hartford Economic Development Corporation, MetroHartford Alliance, Capital City Economic Development Authority (CCEDA), and the Community Economic Development fund and the Greater Hartford Business Development Center, Inc (GHBDC), among many others which seek to promote local business.
Destination Marketing Opportunities
One function of Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) is to facilitate industry access to market intelligence and to make certain that operators understand their markets (existing and emerging). One new source of market intelligence arising from peer to peer communication over the internet comes in the form of blogs. How useful these blogs will be to DMO’s is still highly unknown, but one could surmise that as the internet penetrates more and more households around the globe, “e-strategies” will become more effective and the reliability of information will duly increase.
Typically, the following leisure activities are important for event planners when considering a location:
- Black tie events
- Breweries and vineyards
- Excursions (with transportation less than 1 hour)
- Waterfront activities, Water sports
In addition, key factors impacting the choice of a convention center include:
- Overall price
- Price for attendees
- Transportation (directness and ease of use)
- Geographic proximity
- Image and reputation of the city
- Quality of hotels and restaurants (Number of Zagat or Michelin rated)
Hartford’s Opportunities & Attractions
Several Fortune 500 companies are based out of Hartford including United Technologies Corporation, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Aetna Inc, and Northeast Utilities. Hartford has been deemed “the insurance capital of the world,” given the high concentration of insurance enterprises that include Aetna, ING, Lincoln Life, Uniprise, MetLife, Travelers, The Phoenix Companies, Mass Mutual and Prudential Financial Services.
Furthermore, the region offers fine and diverse cuisines from every continent. The quality of restaurants is notable given that Hartford possesses more than 30 independently owned four-star restaurants. Redevelopment of Greater Hartford has spurred further expansion of restaurants and food enterprises with approximately 16 new restaurants and food outlets opening since January 2004.
Growing Knowledge Industries in Connecticut
The region is home to the “Knowledge Corridor,” comprised of 32 higher education institutions and 120,000 students. Connecticut’s education system receives national acclaim, with standardized tests results placing Connecticut students first in mathematics, writing and reading. Hartford itself is home to two of the nation’s top 100 hospitals, Hartford Hospital and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.
Among other North American cities, Hartford ranks highly in the richness of art and cultural institutions with approximately 200 arts, cultural and heritage organizations. Supporting this culture is Hartford’s hosting of the 10th-largest United Arts Fund. Key attractions include the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Connecticut Opera, the Hartford Civic Center, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and the New England Dodge Music Center, a 25,000-seat indoor-outdoor theater showcasing the best in rock, pop and country music. Throughout the year, major festivals in Hartford include the Connecticut African-American Day Parade, Connecticut Veterans Day Parade, First Night Hartford, Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, Greater Hartford Marathon, Travelers Championship (PGA), Hartford Vintage Base Ball Invitational, Hartford Gay Pride, Puerto Rican Day Parade, Riverfest, Talcott Mountain Music Festival, and a Taste of Hartford.
Residents and visitors have access to two of the world’s largest casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, located near Hartford. Hartford and the surrounding region have a variety of shopping venues such as Westfarms Mall, The Shoppes at Buckland Hills, Evergreen Walk, The Shoppes at Farmington Valley, and Blue Back Square.
The geographic landscape presents residents and visitors of Hartford with numerous recreational attractions. Hartford is located south of New England’s highest mountains, which bestow opportunities for skiing and hiking. Outdoor recreation choices include canoeing, tubing, horseback riding, cycling, mountain biking, jogging, hot air ballooning, and golf on more than 20 courses. Downtown Hartford is decorated with an attractive waterfront, with a riverfront plaza, parks, picnic areas and entertainment venues, boathouses and riverboats. Past events using this riverfront have included rowing competitions, the Riverfront Dragon Boat Races & Asian Festival, jazz and blues festivals, national bass fishing tournaments, and the annual July 4th Riverfest.
The region boasts uncommon attractions including the Basketball Hall of Fame, 14 local vineyards, Dinosaur State Park, Gillette Castle, Lake Compounce Amusement Park, Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration, Mystic Seaport, and the New Britain Museum of American Art. Indeed, Hartford hosts several influential sporting events. In 2004, for the first time ever, the University of Connecticut won the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. In hockey, the Hartford Wolf Pack made the final in the AHL Playoff games in 2004. Rentschler Field, part of Hartford’s redevelopment strategy, is home to the University of Connecticut’s Division IA football team and hosts international soccer and rugby matches.
Attracting Investment & Tourism to Hartford
Hartford has numerous opportunities to grow. A few strategies for growth include:
- Influencing public policy to reduce the cost of doing business in Hartford
- Building a stronger support system for entrepreneurs
- Establishing innovative programs to improve the public education system and make Hartford competitive globally
- Developing affordable housing throughout the region
- Strengthening marketing efforts to create a nationally recognized brand
- Expanding efforts to attract and retain talented 22-39 year old professionals
- Connecting Hartford through commuter systems with New York, Springfield, and New Haven
- Expanding retail, recreational, entertainment venues, and other revitalization of downtown area
- Increasing the number of ready-to-build sites available to business
- Expanding non-stop flights to other American and European cities
Hartford has already embarked on several of these objectives. Indeed, the education level, workforce productivity, and Adriaen’s Landing development speak volumes about the current effort being put forth.
About Market Research in Hartford Connecticut
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