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A leader is only as good as his team, or so they say. In my case, my team is not only the MetroHartford Alliance (MHA) staff, but the “team” comprised of our region’s organizations and individuals all committed to ensuring Hartford survives through and thrives after the events of 2020.

If anything, last year’s challenges helped Hartford define and appreciate who we intrinsically are and what is truly important to us. Furthermore, we have begun to realize that residents in our neighboring communities are finding value in our great schools, open spaces, and rich cultural institutions.

Look for the Silver Linings

The MHA stepped up and continued to be a valuable resource in our region, helping businesses navigate what would quickly become our “new normal.” Like many other organizations, we learned how to virtually network and host events. As an organization, we needed to rethink how we connected with everyone and recognize we could shift to achieve our mission. As I’ve often told my third grader when he’s perplexed by his math homework: There’s always more than one way to get the answer.

By pivoting and responding quickly, the MHA immediately began helping businesses navigate the economic outcomes caused by the pandemic with a series of webinars about the Paycheck Protection Program, disaster loans, and the CARES Act, to name a few. We developed a COVID-19 toolkit and sent out a COVID-19-related newsletter to ensure everyone had the information they needed.

In response to racial inequities that came to the forefront in 2020, the MHA formed a Racial Equity and Economic Development Leadership Committee. Our goal is to create awareness through impactful programming, like the Creating a Diverse & Inclusive Culture virtual conversation we hosted on January 28 and our upcoming Starting Your Journey to Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion event, which will take place February 18.

Our initiatives also continued to adapt and focus on the positive. Connecticut Insurance and Financial Services (CT IFS) embraced the online opportunity to engage a global audience for its annual Insurance Capital Summit, spreading the event over two days and proving relevant and timely content.

The Connecticut Health Council continued to provide monthly forums for health industry organizations to meet virtually to discuss challenges caused by the pandemic. Employee mental health was the focus of the CHC as it hosted a webinar in response to COVID-19. A new Economic Development committee was formed to help our healthcare companies find the assistance they need during the pandemic and beyond.

Throughout 2020, the reignited Hartford Chamber of Commerce built a community, engaging dozens of businesses in our Capital city with community-building events and informational webinars and assisting them with everything from site selection to zoning permits.

HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs) remained connected to our community of young professionals in the Hartford Region, translating events into online opportunities for creative networking.

Innovation Destination Hartford continued to provide an information hub with stories about our local small business owners, startups, and entrepreneurs—stories about their resilience and determination and stories about how resources in our region helped many launch and stay afloat, even in these turbulent times.

Moving Forward

It takes leadership to take action—and it takes a skilled and dedicated team to execute. Behind the scenes, the MHA team has been hard at work to deliver information that’s relevant to our investors and our region. Throughout 2020 we maintained a steadfast commitment to sharing stories of optimism and showcasing that we are a diverse and united region, from our people and culture to our industries and organizations. This commitment will continue in the coming years.

We all know 2021 will be challenging—in different ways. It will take time for companies large and small to recover from the impact of COVID-19 and, as vaccines are distributed, we’ll be figuring out another “new normal.” As a region, Hartford will adapt and persevere. One thing we have is hope and the knowledge that there is opportunity for progress.

David Griggs is President and CEO at the MetroHartford Alliance
The MetroHartford Alliance team volunteered at FoodShare throughout 2020