By MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price
The MetroHartford Alliance (MHA) was proud to host Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin for another candid conversation about the State of the City.
The format of our event on Tuesday morning, March 9, looked a lot different than last year’s event—the MHA’s last in-person event of 2020. However, as MHA President and CEO David Griggs noted, “One thing has remained the same: The MHA’s resolute commitment to help our region adapt, thrive, and embrace upcoming opportunities.
Hosted by the MHA and sponsored by Bank of America, the annual event enables investors and attendees to hear the mayor’s thoughts about the direction for our capitol city. With this past year of significant challenge, Mayor Bronin’s messaging was focused on where we left off creating new opportunities and building momentum in 2020 and how to reclaim that energy.
His emphasis was on uniting. “We need to continue to look for—and fight for those opportunities—and do it together,” underscored Mayor Bronin. “I’m as confident about this city’s future as I’ve ever been, even with all we’ve been through.”
Building and Maintaining Partnerships
Partnerships were another central theme Mayor Bronin highlighted, noting that by working together,
“We made Hartford one of the most accessible and available COVID-19 testing locations in the country.”
The mayor also praised local companies, including the following, for their commitment and resolve concerning the pandemic:
- Hartford Flavor Company — transitioning to creating hand sanitizer
- United Healthcare and Travelers — repurposing their company kitchens and partnering with the Harford Public Works to distribute meals to frontline workers
- The Hartford — donating funding to Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood
- Hartford Yard Goats — providing their stadium for COVID-19 testing and vaccination distribution
- Harriott Home Health Services, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut — engaging actively and quickly
“We need to be proud of our partnerships, preserve them, and build them,” Mayor Bronin asserted.
Both the audience and moderator Joe Gianni, President at Bank of America Greater Hartford, asked questions about building a vibrant community in Hartford.
Mayor Bronin encouraged people to come back to Hartford. “Be part of it. Make sure you’re making Hartford a part of your life by going to restaurants and engaging in arts and culture,” he said.
“If you’re a company, think about creating a formal program encouraging employees to go out to eat in Hartford. We need to support those restaurants,” Mayor Bronin emphasized.
In terms of refilling the city with workers, he noted that companies should “bring back your employees when you can safely do it—a lot is missing when we don’t have personal connections.”
Outlook on Regionalism
Joe Gianni noted that regionalism was a key topic of discussion when he moderated the conversation with Mayor Bronin last year [confirm he was moderator]. From the mayor’s unique perspective, he asked: Was 2020 a setback or did it provide new opportunities?
“Both,” Mayor Bronin affirmed. “A key to making our region act more like a region and bringing us back together is showing that energy and vitality we had going into 2020. It’s easier to do when Hartford is strong and vibrant. With the pandemic, we’ve all retreated into a much smaller circle, which has slowed our common purpose to growth and unity,” he explained.
“On the other hand, it’s more clear than ever that we need to work together to move the city forward. It’s time to start thinking big again so we can be strong and economically,” he added. “The future of our suburbs is tied to future of the city. We are an economically integrated region and we have to act like one.”
Mayor Bronin also underscored the importance of having Connecticut and New England “at the table” when discussing our country’s challenges. His biggest fear is that “we let ourselves be fragmented.” He pointed out, “If we work together, we can do it. And we have to try.”
Another important topic for the mayor concerned workforce development, specifically our businesses community’s role in preparing individuals for now and the future.
Mayor Bronin encourages companies to think about what they can do as a company to train employees and be active in creating unique pathways. He acknowledged a big challenge for those who require training to upskill but can’t commit because they can’t give up their current job. The mayor steered businesses toward programs that partner with local community colleges and ensure participants get paid for training—and there’s a guaranteed job at the end.
“Attracting jobs is more important than ever after this pandemic. It can be a threat or an opportunity. We can see it as both,” said Mayor Bronin. “We need to make this the place where people want to live.”
Telling Our Region’s Story
In terms of marketing our region, the mayor gave kudos to the MHA for our efforts and pointed out that there’s still more to do. “When we have to tell our story, we need to make sure people are thinking about Connecticut and Hartford,” he said.
“People and companies are rethinking—where? How? Why? It’s a moment of enormous change we can’t predict. So, we have to do everything we can to bring activity and life back [to the Hartford Region] and tell the story. I think there’s real opportunity in that,” emphasized Mayor Bronin.
The mayor sees more opportunity for our future, again with the emphasis on collaboration and partnership. When asked about his future priorities, he highlighted the North Atlantic Rail and the Hartford 400 Initiative, which he noted “go hand in hand,” also acknowledging efforts from The iQuilt Partnership.
Mayor Bronin’s outlook is optimistic, overall. “We have to keep pushing every day on 100 different things—and that adds up,” he said.
Learn More About MetroHartford Alliance Events
The MetroHartford Alliance hosts virtual events and webinars to provide opportunities for networking, learning, and community engagement. Visit our events calendar to find out more.
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