NEW BRITAIN - Members of the CTNext Board of Directors, educators and private-sector leaders were given a look Monday morning at a plan to turn Central Connecticut into a place of innovation and entrepreneurship.
“The city is making some major investments in itself to really position us in a very unique way to be able to take the plan for Innovation Places and really move that forward and partner it very nicely with a lot of the work we already have going on,” Mayor Erin Stewart told those gathered at Central Connecticut State University’s Institute for Technology and Business Development.
The Central Connecticut Innovation Places Consortium -consisting of New Britain, Berlin and Farmington - is one of 12 such communities in Connecticut awarded CTNext planning grants in October for the organization’s Innovation Places program.
According to the CTNext website, Innovation Places is a program that aims to enable communities across the state to become top-tier destinations and magnets for talent and high-growth companies. The program’s goal is to create a concentration of entrepreneurs, innovators, tech talent, support organizations and research institutions coming together in transit-connected communities.
Nara Mijid of the Connecticut Center for Innovative Entrepreneurs said the CCIPC took feedback from 12 focus groups to establish five projects that will impact its three communities.
The first project would establish a core technology and incubation center in the former Stanley Black & Decker factory in New Britain.
The second would develop an Innovation Places zoning designation for areas in the three municipalities. These zones will expand tax credits that specifically support innovation.
The third would create a Housing Pilot Program for the target impact area. This would establish a loan forgiveness program for students in the area who are committed in working in an innovation zone.
The fourth would expand transportation between communities, potentially extending CTfastrak bus service to Berlin.
The final project would create a “cradle-to-career pipeline” in area schools, helping schools develop specific career paths for students while they’re still in school and deliver skilled talent to enter a changing workforce.
“It’s through serving the young people that we advance tomorrow,” said Rick Mullins, director of the ITBD at CCSU.
After the discussion, attendees and the CTNext Board of Directors took a tour of the city and saw areas of New Britain experiencing growth and development.
One was the site of the old police station, which will soon be transformed into Columbus Commons, a commercial and housing complex.
The group also visited the CTfastrak hub station on Main Street to talk about economic development in that area.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.