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Board Hears Presentation for Innovation Grant


The CTNext board of directors listened to details for the Innovation Place grant request for New Britain, Berlin and Farmington on Monday. The grant, which can be up to $1 million a year for 5 years, will impact downtown New Britain, the Route 4 corridor and UConn Health Center in Farmington and the Berlin Train Station in Berlin.

The proposal, made by the Central Connecticut team, reached the final round of 7. There will be 4 or 5 finalists to receive the grant.

“Congratulations to the Central Connecticut team for advancing to the final round. It is an exciting time for the State, but also for your community,” said Glendowlyn Thames, Executive Director Connecticut Innovations Group/CTNext. “We started this process from conceptual to planning stage in August. You should be commended for the amount of work, time and effort you put into this to get to the final round today.”

Mayor Erin Stewart said the City is making major investments and will take the plan and move forward.

The Central Connecticut Innovation Places Consortium (CCIPC) would like to be a magnet for talent, innovation and entrepreneurial growth. The success of the plan would represent a community that has developed a dynamic methodology of leveraging talent supporting the industries in the community and using the schools to invite new workers.

There are five major projects in the plan:

  1. Develop a Stage 2 incubator in the former Stanley Black and Decker Factory.
  2. Develop zones specifically for innovation and expand tax credits that support innovation.
  3. Establish a student loan forgiveness program that ties to residency and a commitment to work in an innovation zone.
  4. Extend CTFastrak to Berlin.
  5. Help schools develop specific career pathways and build a “smart classroom” to deliver appropriate skilled talent to the changing workforce.

Tim Stewart (Greater Chamber of Commerce President), along with along with Robin Sharp (executive director of the YWCA) and Rick Mullins (executive director of CCSU Institute of Technology and Business Development), led the proposal.

“In New Britain there is a number of areas of interest,” said Tim Stewart. “We are looking to change the way people do business. I think this is the way.”

“We want to partner with New Britain and Berlin. We have a medical and bio-science corridor,” said Rose Ponte, Farmington Economic Development Director. “Our impact area is thriving with business opportunities and young entrepreneurs, but we are missing some pieces. By bringing this partnership together, we really will be an innovative corridor.”

Berlin Economic Development Director Chris Edge said Berlin is unique.

“We see this as really being a way to move things forward,” said Edge. “In particular we see mixed use development, potential for empty nesters, millennials, artist, entrepreneurs, artists and young people who are looking to make their mark in the world.”

CT Next goal is to support the success of companies and entrepreneurs by providing guidance, resources, and networks to accelerate their growth.

Timeline of the project is about 3 years.

Following the meeting the group took a walking tour of New Britain.

The other six nominees for the program are Danbury, Hartford/East Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford and Thames River.