HARTFORD – With its ground-level location, large windows and inviting appeal, the Hartford Chamber of Commerce is already generating foot traffic and visitors with questions about what the Chamber does, when a specific restaurant will reopen post-pandemic, or even when the next Yard Goats baseball game is.
“It has kind of run the gamut ,” said Julio Concepción, Hartford Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, of those who drop in. “We’ve become a de facto welcome center.”
Businesses who have yet to join the 89-member Hartford Chamber of Commerce, as well as the general public, are invited to a ribbon cutting of the new 103 Pratt Street location at 11:30 Wednesday.
“This is really our chance to launch something that has been a long time coming,” she said.
The office is on the corner of Trumbull and Pratt, where The Russell restaurant used to be, provided to the Chamber by Shelbourne Global Solutions, LLC. Concepción said Shelbourne is allowing the Chamber to stay in the space rent-free until at least September. Chamber staff started to move in during April.
Shelbourne is the landlord for many Hartford properties and a booster for the redevelopment of the Pratt Street area to spark the capital city’s downtown.
As COVID is more in the rear view mirror, businesses are reopening and more people are starting to come downtown, Concepción said the Chamber wants to be visible and accessible to established businesses, visitors and entrepreneurs.
With Hartford slated to receive federal funds through the American Rescue Plan, the Chamber is available to work with the city on the most effective use of those funds, while also making sure “small businesses have a seat at the table,” Concepción said.
The Hartford CIty Council recently approved Bronin’s proposed allocation of ARPA funding, which includes $15.3 million for business support and activation and another $47.3 million for economic and community development. The federal funding must be spent by Dec. 31, 2024
Through the spring and summer, a host of events is scheduled to spark interest in the downtown.
Concepción wasn’t sure whether the Chamber will remain in the location after September, but added that if the Chamber isn’t there, then a business would be moving in and that is a positive.
“A united business community is a powerful one,” Concepción said.