NEW BRITAIN - The city was celebrated at Real Art Ways in Hartford on Wednesday as a recipient of a grant aimed to improve the lives of low-income people.
New Britain is one of 10 Connecticut communities that was recently selected to receive a $15,000 design grant as part of the Connecticut Working Cities Challenge - a grant competition run by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
According to the Working Cities website, the grant competition is made to support cross-sector, collaborative leadership and ambitious work to improve the lives of low-income people in small and mid-size cities.
“New Britain has long been a community of innovators and problem solvers,” said Mayor Erin Stewart in a press release. “We are excited to join the ranks of other municipalities across New England who are seen as leaders in finding unique solutions to address deep rooted issues within their communities. We are a diverse community that believes in equal opportunities and success for all residents.”
The grant money will go to a team of community leaders that will design a plan that will focus on creating job opportunities for New Britain’s Hispanic population.
According to officials, the city has a goal of reducing the city’s unemployment rate in the Hispanic community to 7 percent in the next 10 years. The unemployment rate among Hispanics has declined in past years, but not by much. The unemployment rate for Hispanics in the city went from 17 percent in 2013 to 14 percent in 2015. The city’s overall unemployment rate in December 2016 was 5.4 percent.
The team of community partners will look at a variety of policies, procedures, and processes to help meet their goal of reducing the unemployment rate among New Britain’s Hispanics.
“New Britain leaders will directly engage with low-income people as partners in a process to drive systems change that can have an impact on many lives,” Marlo Greponne, Director of Planning and Programs at HRA New Britain, said in a press release. “It’s unique because low-income involvement at the leadership level gives a stronger voice in developing a model to create opportunities and remove barriers to employment.”
New Britain successfully applied for a $15,000 design grant in January and is now working on a submission for the larger implementation grant that would provide multi-year funding. Four to five communities of the 10 selected for design grants will be awarded implementation grants in the range of $300,000 to $500,000 to assist in developing specific economic development programs. Implementation grant winners will be announced in early 2018.
The project’s co-leaders are HRA of New Britain and the Mayor’s Office. Community partners, working with the city in the Working Cities Challenge are; Central Connecticut State University’s ITDB, the YWCA of New Britain, the Hospital for Special Care, the Coalition for New Britain’s Youth, and the Greater New Britain Chamber of Commerce.
Gov. Dannel Malloy and Boston Fed President and CEO Eric Rosengren were among the celebration’s featured speakers.
“We are very pleased to reach this important milestone in the Working Cities Challenge in Connecticut and are grateful to Governor Malloy and our local and national philanthropic and private sector partners for their early and continued support,” Rosengren said. “Now, these cities will have the opportunity to refine their proposals with guidance from the Fed and other experts. We look forward to working with the teams in the weeks and months ahead.”
Malloy shared similar sentiments as Rosengren.
“Today, we are celebrating the passion, collaborative spirit, and ingenuity of Connecticut residents to push forward proposals toward bettering their cities and our state economy,” Malloy said in his speech. “This is just the beginning of a transformative partnership and we cannot thank our private and philanthropic partners enough for their participation. The success of our communities with concentrated pockets of poverty is an essential part of the equation for building a stronger Connecticut. We look forward to working with the winning teams and the Boston Fed as they move forward in the Challenge.”