Archive | September, 2013

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Chabad-Hartford to Host Talk on End of Life Decisions


WEST HARTFORD — This October the Chabad House of Greater Hartford will be hosting a medical ethics symposium on the topic of end of life decision making.

The program is geared to families, who grapple to make end-of-life decisions that impart the final moments of a loved one with dignity and respect. They wonder when medical intervention is morally required, and when it is excessively intrusive. Must life be preserved at all costs, or can it be permitted to gracefully ebb away?

Dr. Mark D. Siegel, a professor of Internal Medicine, and co-chair of the Bioethics Committee at Yale-New Haven Hospital, will address the many issues that arise from a contemporary perspective at this symposium scheduled for  Oct 8, 7:30 p.m. at the Chabad House of Greater Hartford, 2352 Albany Ave in West Hartford.

Dr. Siegel encounters people being faced with tremendously difficult dilemmas on a regular basis in his position at the ICU of Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe Dean of the Institute of American and Talmudic Law, will share from the perspective of Jewish Law on how to navigate such challenges.

“Jewish Law, as all well-developed ethical systems, cannot and does not focus on a single moral value to the exclusion of others but seeks to balance, accommodate, and prioritize a multiplicity of ethical concerns” said Rabbi Yaffe. “Just as there is a mitzva (a Divine commandment) to prolong life, there is a mitzva to alleviate pain and suffering. But what happens if one value can be achieved only at the expense of another?”

“The key parties involved in many cases may not be thinking rationally for many reasons” said Dr. Mark Siegel. “In the real world, the attempt to have a rational discussion about competing priorities often unravels in the context of fatigue, fear, misinformation, psychological disorders and many other factors.  The failure to acknowledge and address these factors may contribute to false choices that might otherwise be avoided

The fee for the event is $8 advance payment – $10 at the door.

To register & for more information log onto www.ChabadHartford.com, call 860-232-1116 or email JewishLearning@ChabadHartford.com

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Undocumented Parents of U.S. Born Children Wary of Obamacare


By Anthony Advincula

NEW AMERICA MEDIA — R. Ng and his wife, both from the Philippines, have overstayed their visas since 2003. They have a nine-year-old son who is a U.S-born citizen.

As the nation prepares for the new health system under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Ngs have found themselves in an immigration and health care bind: how do they enroll their child in a health care exchange without disclosing their immigration status?

“That would not be an easy thing to do,” said Ng, who is ethnic Chinese. “That’s scary, actually.”

It’s a dilemma faced by thousands of mixed-immigration-status families like the Ng’s here and around the country. Afraid of coming into contact with a government agency, many immigrant families are wary that mandatory ACA enrollment for documented members of the household may put those who are here illegally in harm’s way.

“It’s a no-brainer, because we’re going to enroll our child but not ourselves,” Ng added. “It’s almost an admission to the government that our child has undocumented parents.”

The ACA does not extend to undocumented immigrants.

Under the law, individual states will offer health care exchanges that serve as a marketplace for individuals — including those who have never had insurance, as is the case with many immigrants — to purchase an affordable health plan. Those individuals who are currently uninsured are required to apply for coverage through the exchanges or face a penalty.

Still, many undocumented parents of U.S. born children remain reluctant to seek health care and public assistance. U.S-born children of undocumented immigrants are in fact twice as likely as children born to citizens to lack insurance, according to a 2012 study by the Hastings Center.

Another study by the Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends project noted there are now about 11.7 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and, after the number bottomed out due to the Great Recession, that figure may be rising again.

Health reform advocates are concerned that fear and mistrust of government among undocumented parents may deter families like the Ngs from enrolling their U.S-born children in a qualified health plan. Open enrollment in health exchanges starts Oct. 1.

“This is the biggest challenge that we see in the enrollment process,” Noilyn Abesamis-Mendoza, health policy director with the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, said at a press briefing earlier this month with ethnic media in Manhattan. “There have definitely been some fears going around.”

Emergency room visit

Ng, who works in a retail store in Queens, says he feels fortunate that his family has remained relatively healthy, though the thought that one of them might fall ill frightens him. “I pray every day that won’t happen,” he says.

When one of them does get sick, Ng says the family typically self medicates. But in 2009, during the H1N1 scare, Ng’s son developed a high fever, prompting a trip to the emergency room. “It [the fever] was very high,” Ng recalled,” and I didn’t want to wait until it was too late.”

Since 2009, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has enforced executive ordinances — EO 34 and 41 — that ensure all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, have access to city services, including health clinics and city hospitals.

These ordinances also require city workers to protect the confidentiality of a person’s immigration status.

Still, Ng admits he is uncomfortable going to the emergency room because “our information gets recorded” and it may be detrimental when they eventually apply to legalize their immigration status.

But experts say such fears are misplaced.

Guarantee of confidentiality

Sara Rothstein is assistant director of policy and training for the New York Health Benefit Exchange.

“When enrolling in the exchanges for their U.S-born children,” she explained, “parents who are undocumented only need information such as proof of citizenship and Social Security numbers for their children, not themselves.”

While an applicant’s information is sent to a federal agency for verification purposes, she continued, that information is not used for immigration purposes. “It goes through a series of verifications. When the confirmation for each application gets back to us, it only says ‘residence confirmed’ or ‘residence unknown’,” she said.

According to Rothstein, when undocumented parents apply for the exchange, every member of the family, regardless of immigration status, is assessed. For example, she said, a family with two undocumented parents and one U.S. citizen child would be considered as a family of three and not one, which could make coverage for the child more affordable or qualify them for financial assistance.

And while undocumented parents are prohibited from purchasing health coverage through ACA exchanges and receiving tax credits, they are still qualified for services from safety-net providers such as community health clinics and public hospitals. Treatment in an emergency room also remains available for their care. All these programs, notably, have been in place even prior to the passage of the ACA.

“We will separately consider each person in a household and provide the most benefits for the whole family” based on the person’s eligibility and set criteria, including household income and number of members in the household, Rothstein said. “We will figure out how each member of the family gets covered.”

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CT AFL-CIO Aims for Green Jobs, Climate Change


LEDYARD, CT – Calling for “bold action” to achieve clean energy  economy for green jobs and to fight climate change, the Connecticut AFL-CIO on Friday approved a resolution affirming that “climate change poses a direct threat to the well being of the lives and livelihoods of working people in Connecticut, the United States, and the world.”

The group said it’s hoping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a scientifically safe level.

By approving this resolution during its annual convention held at the MGM Grand Hotel at Foxwoods, the CT AFL-CIO renewed its support for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, a collaborative effort launched in 2012 with the Inter-religious Eco-Justice Network, organizers said.

The AFL-CIO’s vote comes after President Barack Obama in June called for courage “to act before it’s too late to save the planet.”

He cited signs of a gloomy reality: the 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years.  Additionally,  temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs in 2012, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record — faster than most models had predicted it would.

“These are facts,” he said. “So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.  And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.”

In Connecticut and other parts of the Northeast,  states can expect more climate change related heat waves – with significantly more days above 90oF – and flooding from sea level rise and extreme precipitation events.    There is $2.3 trillion of insured coastal property at risk in New York State alone.  Northeasterners are already experiencing increased heavy precipitation.

Recent incidents provide a reminder of the impacts to our public health and costs due to extreme weather in Connecticut.  Although we cannot say that climate change is responsible for any individual event, climate change is already increasing our risks from these events, according to reports.

Ø  Tropical Storm Irene ravaged the East Coast in 2011, requiring over $16 million in federal assistance for Connecticut.

Ø  The US Department of Agriculture declared four counties as natural disaster areas after above normal temperatures in February-April 2010 affected maple sap production, resulting in losses for hundreds of farmers.

Ø   In 2010, there were 1964 cases of Lyme disease in the state.

Jeremy Brecher, CT-based historian and staff member of the national organization Labor Network for Sustainability, praised the CT AFL-CIO’s action:  “As the latest science paints a devastating picture of the impact of global climate change, and as Connecticut suffers serial devastation from climate-change related extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy, organized labor here in our state is taking a crucial stand for climate protection.  Too often, labor and its allies have been divided by the false opposition between jobs and the environment.  With the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s resolution on climate change, labor is recognizing that converting Connecticut to a climate-safe economy can be a crucial way to fix our jobs crisis as well as our climate crisis.”

Also, by providing opportunities for constituencies that have often disagreed on environmental issues to engage in dialogue, identify areas of common ground and embrace their diversity as a source of power, the Roundtable has played a constructive role in helping to shape the state’s energy policy, he said.

Organizers said that the roundtable on climate and jobs helps to strengthen the collaboration among Connecticut’s labor leaders, community organizations, environmentalists, and religious communities in advocating for state policies that are environmentally sustainable and produce good-paying jobs.

John Harrity, Director of GrowJobsCT and President of the CT State Council of Machinists, which introduced the resolution, expressed his satisfaction with the Convention’s action: “Here in Connecticut, we have a great vision for a sustainable, renewable energy future, creating jobs while improving our environment and facing the challenge of climate change. With this resolution, the state’s labor movement has affirmed our commitment to continue providing leadership to the Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.”

 

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Poverty Rate Holding Steady, But Fewer Children Uninsured


By Anna Challet,  New America Media 

While poverty remains at historically high levels, the percentage of people in the United States – especially children – who lack health insurance is declining, according to new data released by the Census Bureau.

“The big changes are in health insurance,” said David S. Johnson, the chief of the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division of the Census Bureau, in a teleconference last week presenting the agency’s most recent findings on poverty and health insurance. He said that the drop in the number of people who are uninsured is the “most significant change” from 2011 to 2012.

Johnson attributed the change to an increase in coverage by public health insurance programs, including both Medicaid and Medicare. Nearly one in three people in the United States now relies on government programs for coverage. The rate has increased every year for the past six years.

The poverty rate remains 15 percent nationally, or over 46 million people – the same number as in 2011, and up from 37 million in 2007 (the year before the recession began). For children, the rate is higher, at 21.8 percent. African American and Latino children fare the worst, with poverty rates of 37.9 and 33.8 percent, respectively.

People living in poverty are defined as those whose household income is below the federal poverty level; in 2012, the FPL was just over $23,000 a year for a family of four.

“The child poverty rate in our country is still so painfully high. One in five children is living in poverty,” says Dinah Wiley, a senior research fellow at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families. “The good news is that more children have health insurance in 2012 than in 2011.”

The rate of children who are uninsured fell from 9.4 percent in 2011 to 8.9 percent in 2012, which represents about 400,000 children gaining insurance.

For children living in poverty, the rate of those who are uninsured is 12.9 percent, as opposed to 7.7 percent for those living above the poverty level.

The percentage of the general population that lacks health insurance dropped for the second consecutive year, from 15.7 percent to 15.4 percent, or from 48.6 million people to 48 million people.

Wiley says “it’s a shame” that many of the remaining uninsured children nationwide are actually eligible for public programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

A study released last week, conducted by the Urban Institute for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that as of 2011, 4 million children were eligible for public health insurance programs but not enrolled.

While that number represents a decline from nearly 5 million, which occurred between 2008 and 2011, over a third of the remaining 4 million who are eligible but not enrolled live in just three states – California, Texas, and Florida.

Wiley says that states with high numbers of uninsured children need to “put out the welcome mat” in terms of their public health insurance programs, and that “outreach and simplification of the enrollment process” are the main strategies for doing so.

Additionally, she says that one of the most important measures states can take to increase the rate of children and families who are insured is to accept the federal dollars being offered to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Texas and Florida have both rejected Medicaid expansion.

Kelly Hardy, Director of Health Policy at Children Now in California, attributes the decrease in the rate of uninsured children to greater efforts within the context of the Affordable Care Act to enroll and retain children in coverage.

Hardy points out that in California, when the transition of children out of the Healthy Families Program (California’s CHIP, which is being eliminated) and into the Medi-Cal program is complete at the end of this year, nearly one in two children in the state will be enrolled in Medi-Cal.

She agrees with Wiley that there’s more work to be done in closing the coverage gap for kids. She notes, as Wiley does, that children are more likely to be insured if their parents are insured, and is optimistic because more adults will be required to enroll in coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“I’m hopeful that as we reach October 1 [the start of open enrollment] and January 1 [when coverage under the ACA begins], there will be even more positive buzz around health care and that more parents will be enrolled, which means more children will be enrolled,” she says.

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Nursing Program Seeks Applicants


MIDDLETOWN — Applications for the Connecticut Technical High School System’s Licensed Practical Nurse Program are now being accepted for the January 2014 session. The program is open to anyone, from recent high school graduates to adults seeking a new career direction in a sought-after field.

“As the elderly population increases and demand for long-term care rises, LPN employment is expected to grow faster than any other health occupation through 2017,” said Patricia Fennessy, R.N., M.S.N., education consultant with CTHSS. “In fact, the Connecticut Department of Labor expects a nearly 13 percent jump in LPN jobs from 2010 to 2020. With the extensive clinical experience the CTHSS LPN Program provides, our students have both the experience and connections to join the workforce immediately after graduation.”

The program, which has the lowest tuition of all LPN programs in Connecticut, is offered in six locations: Bridgeport, Hamden, Hartford, Middletown, Norwich and Waterbury. Sessions run from January to June and August to December.

Students complete a series of nursing classes and two levels of diverse clinical experience at multiple facility sites featuring state-of-the-art technology, including electronic health records. As a result of the program’s articulation with the Connecticut Community College Nursing Program, students have the opportunity to transfer to an RN program in their second year (if accepted) or receive college credits that can be used toward completion of their associate degree with the Connecticut Community College Nursing Program.

“We welcome graduates from the CTHSS LPN Program,” said Gayle Barrett, M.S., nursing admissions specialist for the Connecticut Community College Nursing Program. “Our long-standing agreement with the LPN Program assists graduates in a smooth transition to an associate degree nursing education with pathways to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.”

More information on the CTHSS LPN Program, as well as a program application, can be found at cttech.org/lpn. The application deadline for the session beginning in January is NoV. 8.

 

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Health Clinic to Offer Free Dental Care this Saturday


HARTFORD — Several hundred Greater Hartford residents are expected to seek free dental care on Sept. 28 at the fifth annual Inner-City Dental Clinic to be held at Community Health Services at 500 Albany Ave. in Hartford.

The free clinic is available to Greater Hartford residents, including children, with limited or no dental insurance. Hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with services available on a first come, walk-in basis. Services will include exams, cleanings, extractions, fillings and sealants. The clinic will also supply free screenings for HIV, vision, diabetes and blood pressure.
 
Last year, also with support from the Hartford Foundation, a staff of 116 volunteer dental professionals treated 270 patients – children and adults. More than 1,231 procedures valued at almost $12,425 were performed.
 
The volunteers included students and faculty from the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Connecticut, private practice dentists, assistants, hygienists and Lions Club members and community volunteers, as well as Community Health Services staff.
 
The clinic is funded by a $30,000 grant from the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in partnership with the West Indian Foundation, Inc.

 

 

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Murphy to Co-Host Healthcare Reform Conference


HARTFORD —  In less than one week before the Affordable Care Act is set to launch, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn) will co-host a large-scale health policy conference with the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies.

The aim of the conference, scheduled for Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. at Yale’s Kroon Hall on Prospect Street, is to examine the policies contained in the Affordable Care Act–otherwise known as Obamacare– and discuss what the law means for Connecticut residents, officials said. The discussion will also center on what’s next and how to improve the law.

Entitled “Ready to Launch: The Affordable Care Act and US Health Policy,” the event coincides with the Oct. 1 launch of the health insurance marketplace in Connecticut, and it  will bring together leading policymakers, academic experts, and the medical community to engage and educate the public about how the ACA impacts Connecticut residents and businesses owners.

Some of those guests include Diana Rowland, Executive Vice President, Kaiser Family Foundation, Jonathan Swartz, Regional Medical Director, Montefiore Medical Group and  Jacob Hacker, Director of the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies.

Ready to Launch: The Affordable Care Act and US Health Policy is open to the public and is free of charge.

To register for the event, please visit http://isps.yale.edu/conferences/aca-ready-to-launch#.UkHCfYZeZQQ . The event will also be livestreamed through the link below for those unable to attend in person.

 

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Malloy Bill Simplifies State Processes for Veterans


HARTFORD — Connecticut veterans will now have an easier time to get occupational certifications and licenses.

That’s because Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday announced that he has signed an executive order that will streamline the process for veterans of the United States military. The bill simplifies the process for awarding college credit to veterans for military education.

Connecticut has about a quarter of a million military veterans and another 9,000 residents currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“These are people with special training, skills, and education who, upon returning to civilian life, are ready, willing and more than qualified to enter our workforce,” Malloy said.  “We must make it as easy as possible for these accomplished men and women to apply their skills to the goals they seek to accomplish after having served in our military so admirably.

Under Governor Malloy’s Executive Order No. 36, all state departments, boards, and commissions will review and revise their procedures when issuing occupational certifications and licenses to take into account relevant military education, skills and training when determining equivalency.

In addition, the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education, which governs four state universities, 12 community colleges, and Charter Oak State College, and the University of Connecticut will be responsible for conducting a thorough review of their current policies and identify recommendations to simplify the process for U.S. veterans when seeking to apply their military education towards college credit.

”This is a very concrete way that we can begin to repay them and their families for their service and their sacrifice by helping them find employment and earn an education as they transition back to civilian life,”  Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said.

Monday’s order builds upon a directive Governor Malloy issued last year, instructing the heads of executive branch state agencies to consider hiring and recruiting veterans who have recently returned from military service or will be returning in the near future and are looking for employment.

For additional information on services available to veterans and their families, visit veterans.ct.gov.

 

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Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle Film Screenings and Lectures


HARTFORD —  On the heels of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington, the Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities, Inc. in partnership with the Hartford Public Library and other community organizations will offer a series of screenings, scholarly presentations and community conversations centered on three documentaries: Freedom Riders, Slavery by Another Name, and The Abolitionists from October 2013 to March 2014.

The first screening and lecture will be Freedom Riders, Tuesday, October 29 at the Hartford Public Library’s Center for Contemporary History and Culture, 500 Main Street, First Floor, Downtown Hartford. This, and other events, will introduce these documentaries with riveting new footage illustrating the history of civil rights in America.

Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history. NEH has partnered with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to develop programmatic and support materials for the sites.

freedomriders2CABC Inc., doing business as The Hartford Guardian, is one of 473 institutions across the country awarded a set of films chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. The powerful documentaries, The Abolitionists, Slavery by Another Name, Freedom Riders, and The Loving Story, include dramatic scenes of incidents in the 150-year effort to achieve equal rights for all.  Freedom Riders received an Emmy in 2012, and The Loving Story and The Abolitionists have been nominated for Emmys in 2013.

The Hartford Guardian‘s program will feature three films.

“These films chronicle the long and sometimes violent effort to achieve the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—for all Americans,” said Founder and Editor Ann-Marie Adams. She will moderate the screening and conversation on Freedom Riders.  “We are pleased to receive a grant from NEH to provide programming around these films.”

In a “Teaching the Movement” report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Connecticut received an “F” for teaching about the Civil Rights Movement. Local organizers and volunteers said they hope these lectures and film screenings will help jump-start a community effort to educate Greater Hartford residents about a very important moment in American history.

Each of the films was produced with NEH support, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation. Created Equal programs bring communities together to revisit our shared history and help bridge deep racial and cultural divides in American civic life.

Visit www.neh.gov/created-equal for more information.  To volunteer or donate, email editor@thehartfordguardian.com, or call 860-993-1094.

The Created Equal film set is made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

About Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities

Founded in 2004, the Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities d/b/a The Hartford Guardian is a nonprofit organization that promotes civic engagement through quality journalism. CABC Inc. increases civic engagement by educating youth and families about various social services and how best to access those services, educate residents about how government and media work and how to effect positive change, as well as explore and engage directly with civic journalism through our three main programs: The Hartford Guardian, Summer Journalism Institute and Community Conversations. Visit: www.thehartfordguardian.com

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit organization that promotes excellence in the teaching and learning of American history. Programs include publications, teacher seminars, a national Affiliate School Program, traveling exhibitions, and online materials for teachers, students, and the general public. www.gilderlehrman.org.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities. NEH grants enrich classroom learning, create and preserve knowledge, and bring ideas to life through public television, radio, museum exhibitions, and programs in libraries and other community places. www.neh.gov.

 

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Hartford to Launch iConnect Downtown October 11


HARTFORD — Out of 40 applications, the city of Hartford selected five businesses for its iConnect project, an effort to revitalize the city’s storefronts in downtown Hartford. The official launch is set for Oct. 11.

The City’s Marketing Events and Cultural Affairs Department, who administers the project, received over 40 applications from which a total of 5 businesses were selected: WNPR, Naturally Dogs & Cats and Hartford Prints!

“iConnect offers a glimpse of what Downtown Hartford will look like in the future,” said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra. “It’s great to hear the excitement from the businesses about being in the Capital City. Change takes time but this is a first step towards pushing our creative economy forward and creating a roadmap to success for some of our entrepreneurs.”

WNPR will set up its satallite office at 231 Trumbull St., to host two weekday-shows at least once a month. Naturally Dogs & Cats, located on 100 Trumbull Street will offer premium pet food and supplies made and sourced within the U.S.A. with a concentration on products made in New England. Owners expressed interest in collaborating with local artists to create a line of pet attire and accessories and exhibit pet inspired artwork in the store. And Hartford Prints!, a letterpress studio owned by three sisters born and raised in Hartford, will be located on 42 1/2 Pratt St.

Two other businesses, National Exhibitions & Archives and State of Makers stores, will open in early winter.

The iConnect program is partially funded through a grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Office of the Arts for the purpose of converting empty storefronts into mixed use spaces. Selected businesses receive up to $2,000 for build-out and set up assistance and free rent in a Downtown storefront for 6 months. iConnect has received commitments from two property owners including Northland Investment Corporation and Lexington Partners for approximately 6,000 square feet of retail space.

“The iConnect Program gives a small business a jump start while providing a much needed service to Hartford residents and visitors alike,” said Maria Lamari, Property Manager.

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