October 4, 2016

Larson Announces Approval of Funding for First Round of “Innovation Places” Grants

Grants will be used by communities like East Hartford to plan and create concentrated areas of talent for entrepreneurs and innovators

A critical step was taken in jump-starting Connecticut’s innovation economy at the recent meeting of the State Bond Commission. Senator Tim Larson (D-East Hartford) has announced that $500,000 was approved to support the first round of planning grants from the CTNext Fund, a program championed by Larson and his Democratic colleagues.

“We have seen the success of our state’s investments in East Hartford, as “Aerospace Alley” continues to ramp up production and jobs in high-tech industries, like those at UTC and Pratt & Whitney. Now we are working to capitalize on these existing assets, by encouraging growth of innovative businesses and startups around the economic anchors we already have,” said Sen. Larson. “‘Innovation Places’ will continue to draw the best and brightest minds to Connecticut, which will translate to more jobs, increased economic development and continued revitalization of our towns.”

A critical aspect of the innovation economy law passed this year is the creation of “Innovation Places.” The Innovation Places will be concentrated areas where entrepreneurs and innovators have easy access to tech talent, support organizations and research institutions. These dense areas are intended to be highly walkable, transit-connected, and mixed-use in zoning to facilitate interactions among entrepreneurs and innovators across different organizations, and to be conducive to the creation of startup companies. This environment is intended to be attractive not only for entrepreneurs to work in, but also to live in and for recreation, to help the community retain the most in-demand workers.

This $500,000 allocation will be divided and distributed as grants for use in the development of a strategic planning process to identify local conditions and build a master plan that identifies the resources and assets in each community (like a hospital, a university, a research firm, or a manufacturer) to create exciting new business opportunities. The program was designed to be publicly supported and privately led, with communities leveraging public funding to generate a larger amount of private investment and business growth.