Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Metropolitan Hartford's strong economy is based on a diverse business and industrial community. The area ranks number one in the world in gross domestic product per capita and number two in the world in labor productivity. Long a powerful insurance and financial center, it also boasts an extensive list of major high-tech manufacturing firms producing such complex products as aircraft engines, nuclear reactors, space suits, and missile components. The city is also a major data processing and telecommunications center. Other industries thriving in the area include health care and retail. With employees working in the state capitol building, the legislature, libraries, and the Supreme Court, government is another major economic sector. Hartford's physical location is a prime asset, as the city is located within 100 miles of both New York and Boston and offers access to 100 million consumers within an 8-hour drive. Additionally, Hartford is gaining a reputation as one of the nation's most wired cities, which has been an important factor in the attraction of information-oriented businesses.
Long known as the Insurance Capital of the World, MetroHartford is home to seven major insurance firms: Aetna Inc., Travelers Property Casualty Corp., MassMutual, The Hartford Financial Services Group, CIGNA, The Phoenix Companies, and The United Health Care Company.
The area's manufacturing sector includes many Fortune 500 corporations and large multinational organizations. Among the best known are the Barnes Group and United Technologies Corporation, its divisions Hamilton Sundstrand and Pratt & Whitney, along with its subsidiary Otis Elevator. Henkel Loctite Corporation has its world headquarters in MetroHartford. Stanley tools and hardware are produced in the region, as are the famed Colt firearms. Still, the region's backbone are the small- to mid-size businesses, which enjoy an excellent outlook for success in the early years of the century. Recently ranked number 17 nationally in the top 40 markets for business expansion, Hartford provides a fertile environment for small-business growth.
Items and goods produced: jet engines and aerospace products; fiber optics; chemicals; biomedical pharmaceutical products
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
Future success for Hartford's new and expanding businesses is boosted by an aggressive program of business incubators, and by economic incentive and financial assistance packages made available through federal, state and local government and area educational facilities. Connecticut's financial and tax incentives include grants and tax abatements for firms locating in State Enterprise Zones and the Urban Jobs Program, which provides benefits for eligible projects in Targeted Investment Communities, as well as low-cost loans and development bond financing, and funding for new product development.
The MetroHartford Alliance seeks to provide leadership in order to enable the region to fulfill opportunities related to economic growth. The Alliance pursues this goal through financing and consulting services for export-minded small businesses, through services offered to international companies seeking to locate in the area, and through working cooperatively with all parts of the region on issues vital to their common economic health. The Chamber cites as Hart-ford's advantages its comparatively low business costs, strategic location, availability of business services, good transportation network, and an educated work force. In recent years, Alliance projects have included efforts to retain graduates of Hartford-area colleges to the region, implementation of a marketing and communications strategy, and expanding the Small Business Task Force.
A variety of incentives for new and existing businesses are offered through the new Hartford Economic Development Commission. Among them are employment tax credits, tax credits for co-op employees and apprentices, assessment fixing, manufacturing personal property tax exemptions, and various other tax credits. A range of incentives are offered to businesses who locate or expand in the city's Enterprise Zone. The Growth Fund provides below-market-rate loans to help area companies add jobs. Financing is tied to the number of jobs created, and helps cover the difference between the bank loan and the actual project costs. Eligible projects include site acquisition, road work, remediation, and machinery.
The Connecticut Development Authority works to expand Connecticut's business base by working with private-sector partners to guarantee or participate in loans for businesses that may be unable to meet credit underwriting standards; providing access to lower-cost fixed asset financing through Small Business Administration 504 Debentures and tax-exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds; working to provide financial incentives to companies that enhance the skills of their employees; encouraging investment in the state's urban commercial infrastructure; providing grants and financing for businesses willing to develop areas plagued by environmental scourge; and by providing funding for companies interested in pursuing advances in information technology.
Job training programs
Capital Workforce Partners, established under the Workforce Investment Act, provides programs to assist in the development of a skilled and educated workforce. Regional CEOs oversee CWP. CWP operates six career centers through the region, each of which provides a full range of employment services, including job referral, career workshops, training, and financial aid opportunities. Employers also benefit from CWP's services, as they can receive assistance in areas such as recruitment, screening, and information on tax credit programs. The University of Connecticut Greater Hartford Campus is the designated Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for Hartford, serving start-up and small businesses. SBDCs offer technical and management assistance, counseling, education, and training programs.
One of Hartford's most important development projects is the 30-acre Adriaen's Landing site on the Connecticut River. The centerpiece of the project is the 540,000 square foot Connecticut Convention Center, the largest between New York and Boston. Attached to the convention center is a 22-story Marriott Hotel. Boardwalks connect the convention center with Constitution Plaza and with Riverfront Recapture, another recent Hartford development project which has reclaimed riverfront properties for parks and recreational spaces. Future developments at the site include the Connecticut Center for Science and Exploration and a residential and retail district.
The Hartford 21 project, another major development in the city, has begun a rejuvenation of the downtown neighborhoods near the Hartford Civic Center complex. One of the features of Hartford 21 is New England's largest residential tower. The project, when completed, will eliminate decaying infrastructure near the Civic Center and replace it with a 24-hour neighborhood with integrated retail, residential, and entertainment facilities.
In 2003, Rentschler field opened in East Hartford. Located on a former airfield donated by the Pratt & Whitney Corporation, the facility serves as a home field for University of Connecticut football as well as other entertainment and sporting events. Capital Community College has expanded into new space made available by the renovation of the historic G. Fox building, and has seen enrollment increase in this new 304,000 square foot space. Expansions are also in the works for the University of Hartford, where a new Performing Arts Center, Integrated Science, Engineering, and Technology complex, and new athletic fields are planned. The Blue Back Square project in West Hartford, scheduled for completion in 2006, promises 550,000 square feet of offices, luxury condominiums, and retail space. In the city of Hartford, work is underway on restoration of all buildings on the 110-acre Colt Gateway site. Commercial, residential, and light industrial space will be available when the project is completed. The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has raised $43 million for intended renovations and developments, including expansion to increase exhibit space and amenities.
Economic Development Information: MetroHartford Alliance, 31 Pratt Street, 5th Floor, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)525-4451; fax (860)293-2592. Hartford Economic Development Commission, 11 Asylum St., Suite 501, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)524-0725
Hartford, New England's second busiest retail market, benefits from its location on the Connecticut River and at the apex of several major interstate highways. The Connecticut River can accommodate barge and coastal tanker traffic; the river and two major interstate highways give Greater Hartford quick and direct access to commercial ports in New Haven, Bridgeport, and New London, with a convenient sea link to the Port of New York. Greater Hartford has benefitted from the state's $6.5 billion highway improvement program, which took place throughout the 1990s. Freight rail service is provided by Boston and Maine Corp. and Consolidated Rail Corp. Bradley International Airport, 15 miles north of the city, handles 140,000 tons of air cargo each year. The airport offers a new terminal and concourse, as well as roadway and viaduct improvements in the vicinity of the airport. Facilities are available for corporate and private aircraft, as is warehouse space for cargo processing. The Hartford-Brainard Airport provides freight service. Hartford Despatch International, based in East Hartford, is considered one of the country's foremost movers of commodities.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Despite mergers, consolidations, and downsizing towards the end of the 1990's, one in ten jobs in Hartford is still provided by businesses in the insurance and financial services industry. As the region's economy has diversified, members of Hartford's well-educated workforce have found employment in the many companies capitalizing on technological advancement. Precision instruments, computers, and electrical equipment are all produced in the Hartford area. Aerospace, information technology, and healthcare all look to be promising sectors for Hartford's future.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Hartford area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 537,600
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 21,100
trade, transportation, and utilities: 88,700
financial activities: 68,000
professional and business services: 57,100
educational and health services: 83,800
leisure and hospitality: 37,800
other services: 20,700
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $20.08
Unemployment rate: 5.5% (March 2005)
Cost of Living
The following is a summary of data regarding key cost of living factors for the Hartford area.
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $372,383
2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 122.1 (U.S. average = 100.0)
State income tax rate: 3% to 5%
State sales tax rate: 6% for most items
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: None
Property tax rate: 48 mills per thousand (due to state legislative relief, residential properties consisting of 1-3 units are taxed substantially lower)
Economic Information: MetroHartford Alliance, 31 Pratt Street, 5th Floor, Hartford, CT 06103; telephone (860)525-4451
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