I had the distinct pleasure to participate in a luncheon meeting called by Mayor Pedro Segarra “Opportunities Hartford” – the citywide, strategically aligned, collaborative effort to enhance and expand existing educational, employment and economic empowerment opportunities in Hartford. This ongoing discussion and effort to coordinate opportunity for all Hartford residents was established in 2012 to create a pathway to economic independence. The team leaders of each segment gave talks on progress and milestones reached to date. In each area – Education, Employment, and Economic Empowerment -strides have been made to organize leaders from the city to address how to achieve goals. As the new guy, it was exciting to learn that so much good work has been accomplished. This is not a forum to allow people to talk but has actively engaged people to create methods of finding success.
Historic preservation does not leap to mind as a partner in this effort yet I see clear opportunity to make our work integral to Opportunities Hartford. Investment in Connecticut: The Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation, a statewide study completed in 2011 suggests that for every $ 100 spent on historic preservation $ 83 goes directly into the pockets of employees. This statistic exceeds other manufacturing sectors in Connecticut. Further, restoring or rehabilitating properties in neighborhoods contributes to overall community economic development. We who want to see the historic fabric of Hartford preserved recognize that creating jobs and sustainable growth are the true outcomes of our work. My point in introducing myself yesterday was to underscore that historic preservation can generate new employment opportunities. We know that renovation requires skilled labor. All too often we field requests for contractors with the experience and knowledge to renovate structures originally built by skilled craftsmen. It is my vision that historic preservation becomes a valued partner in any discussion regarding enhancing community in Hartford.
The Mayor spoke passionately of the work being accomplished to improve Hartford. It was rewarding to hear him specifically mention that historic preservation was a key element in future plans. His leadership is admirable and deserves our attention and support.