Tag Archive | "Pedro Segarra"

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Hartford Entrepreneurial Center Offers Help to Small and Minority Businesses, But Few Knew

By Krishna Scully, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Many small and minority-owned businesses in Hartford are seemingly missing out on opportunities to grow so they can hire city residents.

Maria Sanchez, an owner of the registered business, “Fiesta Time”, says that she will take any opportunity to better her business, but she has never heard of any programs.

“I feel I need the most help in financial management and I can use the publicity,” Sanchez said.

There’s actually a city program that does just that.

Since 2011, the University of Hartford Entrepreneurial Center has been receiving a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant from Hartford for the Hartford Small Business Technical Assistance Program. This ongoing program provides free training, advising and technical assistance. Business owners work to improve marketing, operating and financial strategies.

So far, officials said, the program has helped 41 businesses in the last two years.

“The mission of our program is to help Hartford businesses improve their economic position,” said Shellie McMillen, CBDG’s Program Administrator.  “Each business has different specific goals they are working on attaining, including access to capital, improved human resources process, enhanced marketing strategy, etc. Our overall goal is that they use these improvements to take their business to the next level and increase profitability.”

The program has greatly benefited Balam Soto, a local artist and one of 16 local artists and small businesses awarded more than $100,000 from the city through Hartford Arts and Heritage Jobs Businesses Development Grant program, designed by Mayor Pedro Segarra and the Greater Hartford Arts Council in 2009 to spur job growth and innovation in the creative industry.

The Entrepreneurial Center’s HSBTAP program complements that program as well.

“The benefits of the EC program are great and worth it every single minute”, said Soto, who develops his own technology shop,  “Open Wire Lab.”  “The staff is kind and easy to approach.  They know what they are doing.  The atmosphere in the program shows how much they are committed to help your business.  They support you in the process no matter how unorthodox your idea is.”

ec-photoWord of the EC’s HSBTAP has been spread through various events, referrals from other organizations, and the distribution of marketing material, but without the help of the city’s out reach efforts in social circles not likely to get information through “word of mouth,” many businesses remain stagnate.

The city has hired outreach coordinators. But there’s seemingly not much outreach beyond “word of mouth.”

“I’ve never heard of it, “ said Ace, who refused to give his last name. “I don’t see anybody coming up here in until election time.”

Ace, the owner of Ace’s Smoke and Cell Shop on Albany—now Boost Mobile, said he’s been doing business in the city and surrounding areas for about 10 years.

The lack of awareness of programs such as these has impacted many city small and businesses and unemployment rate in the city. Reports show that local businesses tend to hire local residents, as opposed to corporation and nonprofit organizations based in the area.

According to the Survey of Business Owners (SBO) by the Department of Economic and Community Development, there are 2,488 minority-owned businesses in Hartford, representing 37.5 percent of the 6,638 total firms in the city.

Overall, the number of minority firms in Connecticut is a 39,832.minority firm in Connecticut.

Recently, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that the state would provide $2 million to support minority contractors through the Hartford Economic Development Corporation (HEDCo). But that money is allocated only for contractors.

“Connecticut’s small businesses are the drivers of innovation, entrepreneurship, and job creation, and minority-owned businesses play a vital role,” Malloy said. “As the construction industry recovers, it is important that we have programs and funding in place that ensure minority contractors have opportunities to bid and win contracts and play a more active role in the state’s economic resurgence.”

At all levels of government, there is a consensus about the role small and minority businesses play in putting a dent in the unemployment or under-unemployment rate in urban areas.

“According to the latest data, 12 percent of the state’s businesses are minority-owned and the health of our economy will depend on these businesses having the same opportunities to succeed as others,” DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said.  “By supporting local economic development organizations this way, we are broadening participation in public works projects and ensuring a more fair, competitive bidding process that will lower costs for the state.”

But first, business must have the tools to succeed, said Ace, who refused to give his last name.

“We hire mostly city residents,” Ace said. “ We should be getting all the help we can get. I’m  all for that.”

The Entrepreneurial Center is currently assessing businesses interested in participating in HSBTAP. For more information, contact the Entrepreneurial Center at 860-768-5681 or visit www.hartford.edu/ec.

Photos: Courtesy of Photo Stock

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Malloy Commits To Education Funding

HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel Malloy on Wednesday said education funding will remain untouched as the state grapples with its $3.7 billion budget deficit.

Flanked by mayors of Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, Malloy said he will continue to fund the educational cost sharing grant, which is money to cities and towns to “equalize” school funding. Currently, the ECS grant is $1.9 billion and is partly funded by a $271 million emergency federal stimulus grant that ends June 30.

“We will, in fact, honor our commitment to hold our communities harmless for the loss of ECS dollars,” Malloy said.”We will not ding the cities.”

To honor his campaign commitment, the governor will consider merging state agencies to eliminate redundancies to close the state’s budget deficit.

The ECS funding is critical to towns and cities, but especially urban areas–hence the reason why the three big-city mayors, John DeStefano of New Haven, Bill Finch of Bridgeport and Pedro Segarra of Hartford. That’s because more than half of the cities’ tax base comprise of nonprofit organizations such as hospitals, colleges, community-based organizations, museums, theaters and churches. The cities would also hurt the most if the ECS grant was reduced.

The grant allows cities such as Hartford to make up for that shortfall in revenue, Segarra said. ECS grant makes up 60 percent of Hartford’s budget.

So far, the governor’s announcement is welcome news, Segarra said.

“Any shortage would have to be made up from local taxes,” he said. “And that would be difficult to do with properties that are untaxed.”

DeStefano said the governor’s pledge is the right investment at the right time because ECS money is helping urban schools to close the drop out rate and the achievement gap.



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Segarra Preps for Perez’s Possible Resignation

HARTFORD –As news of Mayor Eddie Perez’s guilty verdict echoed in city hall, the Democratic caucus met in chambers to decide the process to possible impeach Perez next week—if he refuses to step down.

The mayor’s Spokeswoman Sarah Barr said after the verdict was announced, Perez went to church.

Meanwhile at city hall, employees continued on, seemingly with business as usual, and as if news of the guilty verdict had little impact.

On the second floor of city hall, Councilman Pedro Segarra readies for a horde of reporters. As city council president, Segarra is next in line to be mayor if Perez resigns next week.

“I thought it was pertinent that the council start the process of making the best decision possible for each and everyone of our residents,” Segarra said.

Councilman Matt Ritter, who showed up for a Democratic caucus to craft a joint statement about today’s verdict, agreed.

“Today is just a raw and emotional day. It’s not a great day. It is what it is,” Ritter said.

As for the topic of discussion in the caucus meeting, Ritter said: “I think it’s fair to say we will discuss the possibility of a resignation…We’re always mindful of process and will continue to follow the process correctly.”

Larry Deutsch, who was in the wings, also piped up. He said it was important to hear other voices on the matter. He is calling for the mayor’s resignation today.

But that’s not going to happen on Father’s day weekend.

After the caucus meeting, Segarra read a two-minute statement for the media.

“Early next week, the city council is prepared to take action, if necessary, to move Hartford forward,” Segarra said, flanked by Democrats and Working Family members on the council. Absent were Calixto Torres and Republican Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson.

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