Recipients: Wallingford Center, Inc.; Town of Wallingford Board of Education; Wallingford Economic Development Commission

Opportunities & Challenges

HUBCAP Wallingford was established to facilitate relationships between the business community, education system, and community leaders. Over the last three years, HUBCAP Wallingford has leveraged these relationships to focus attention on downtown economic growth while increasing opportunities for student learning in an authentic environment.

Highlights

HUBCAP Wallingford’s signature project is Credit for Life, a program that was created for all 500 high school sophomores enrolled at Lyman Hall and Mark T. Sheehan High Schools. The day of the program, students arrive at the Wallingford Park and Recreation Center with financial information about a self-selected profession. Having accounted for taxes and college loans, students then participate in a Game of Life. From buying a car to deciding where to live, students are offered a glimpse into the real world they will enter in the future.

In addition to predictable monthly expenses, students are also challenged by “chance” opportunities. These may include paying for car repairs or getting a cavity filled at the dentist.

At the beginning and end of the event, all students must consult with financial advisors to review their monthly financial plan. As they maneuver through the game, some students realize the need to go back to school for an additional degree while others may determine having a roommate may be most beneficial financial option. At the close of each session, the students come together as a large group to debrief and process on the experience. Time and time again, they share they are leaving with a better understanding and appreciation for the need to be financially aware and prepared for their future.

Another of HUBCAP Wallingford’s success stories, We Are Micro, started as a pop-up store during the holiday season. A recent college graduate and former Wallingford Public Schools high school student wanted to open a graphic t-shirt store. To get started, he opened a pop-up store at HUBCAP Wallingford. As a result of that very successful launch, We Are Micro now has a storefront on Center Street in Wallingford, one block up from HUBCAP, where young entrepreneurs can display their products before committing to a lease or storefront.

Additionally, HUBCAP Wallingford serves as host to numerous programs and events, including the Annual Holiday Stroll, and as a space for community leaders and business owners to meet to discuss the improvement of downtown.

HUBCAP has become synonymous with improvement and economic growth. From helping to facilitate a SWOT analysis with local leaders and business owners, to continuing the crusade for parking lot and beautification efforts, HUBCAP Wallingford has served as the headquarters for planning and ultimate implementation.

Funding

HUBCAP Wallingford’s headquarters, a downtown storefront location at 128 Center Street, was fully renovated through donations of good and services of local business. Valued at over $150,000, the renovations transformed the space, which boasts both a large and small conference room and three business incubators. Now, the self-funded HUBCAP Wallingford sustains itself through a variety of donations and contributions. The main conference room is sponsored by Allnex Corporation; donations for programming come from the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce and Wadsworth Family Foundation; and the Wallingford Board HUBCAP Wallingford has even enlivened the downtown community with student pop-up restaurants, as part of the Wallingford Public Schools Culinary and Hospitality Program. In 2017, the program planned and implemented fully functioning pop-up restaurants, including an Asian fusion experience and a bakery and café. Both ventures brought hundreds of people to downtown Wallingford, many of whom had not been there for many years. At the fall event, over four hundred people were served in under three hours. With lines running down the sidewalk, new businesses taking root, and students and merchants engaged in real-life training events, HUBCAP Wallingford has increased interest in downtown Wallingford and offered students valuable authentic learning experiences.

What’s Next

The board of HUBCAP Wallingford has prioritized key areas of focus, including expanding student and family programming in financial literacy, post-high school planning, and health & wellness. HUBCAP’s board continues to offer students, parents, and community members an opportunity to grow in their understanding of advanced manufacturing and business apprenticeships.

Lastly, HUBCAP Wallingford continues to market and expand their incubator spaces for emerging businesses. By creating partnerships with Quinnipiac University and Central Connecticut State University, HUBCAP is positioned to attract future entrepreneurs who may
benefit from incubator space in downtown.