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By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance

Rebecca Nolan, Vice President, Global Business Development at the MetroHartford Alliance, enjoys telling others about all the assets in the Hartford Region—from food and culture to industry firsts.

Why Hartford?

REBECCA NOLAN: Hartford was the first city I was introduced to when I first came to Connecticut. I attended the University of Hartford and, at the time, housing on campus was unavailable. Therefore, I lived in the city next to Hartford Hospital, in the building which is now the Center for Education, Simulation, and Innovation (CESI) Lab. I worked at G. Fox & Co. downtown to help put myself through school. It’s great to see the old G. Fox as the location for MakerspaceCT!

I learned Hartford as a college student. The city became a place for me to explore by walking everywhere. As an art student, I was directed to go and see the city, look at the architecture, and learn by viewing and experiencing the history of Hartford. That’s why Hartford is special to me. And I love seeing how it’s still evolving.

What else makes Hartford unique?

BECKY: We have such a cultural diversity. You can go anywhere in Hartford and probably find any flavor to satisfy your need.

For global business attraction, I’m talking to companies that may be bringing people from all over the world. For example, if I’m working with Polish company, I can also tell them about “Little Poland” in New Britain or if a company is from Brazil, I tell them about Parkville and all the unique flavors to sample. This is another reason why a company would want to come here, because they can have a choice to satisfy not only the business, but also personal needs. So, diversity in our cultures is definitely a selling point.

And I think now, more than ever, it’s the quality of place—not just quality of life that makes a difference. We have access to the ocean and mountains. I can take beautiful rides throughout the entire state and be home for dinner. That’s why quality of place means a lot.

How have you become a part of Hartford and how has Hartford become a part of who you are?

BECKY: I love seeing new uses for vacant spaces. Of course, that’s the area where I focus—real estate.

It’s great to be able to talk about the beautiful assets we have but, when I bring in companies, I’m also bringing in more people that build and add to our diverse neighborhoods. I get a kick out of being here in Hartford. I visit other cities around the country and see the beauty they all have but then I come home, and I realize, we have all that and more!

How do you tell the story of Hartford?

BECKY: I like to first ask what someone knows about Hartford and I typically ask them to express their views—oftentimes their opinion is negative; however, when I get the chance to speak, I talk more about how we compete on a global scale, we’re industry leaders, and we “punch well above our weight class.”

I’m excited to be part of a business council that’s right now working with Ireland. We’re understanding the value of our assets here and we’re able to talk to people in businesses there and find our common opportunities for partnerships.

I tell our story by showcasing reasons why our insurance industry is so strong—disasters happened and businesses in Hartford were the first to be the insurers. That’s one of the reasons why we talk about the value of our insurance industry. It’s a legacy industry for Hartford.

In addition, our aerospace industry is very strong, we’re called “Aerospace Alley.” You don’t get that name just because you want it…jet engines don’t just put themselves together! We’re smart and skilled. That’s what I market when I’m telling our story.

I also talk about the value of our location. I laugh when people tell me we’re stuck between New York and Boston. I tell them: “Oh, no, they’re in my backyard.” Our location is valuable for business domestically and internationally. We’re very lucky to be located in a state that can have access around the globe.