(Hartford, CT) – The Upper Albany neighborhood’s commercial corridors will receive customized assistance to recruit new businesses through a new project launched by the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) and Upper Albany Main Street (UAMS). Funded through a generous grant from the Travelers Foundation, the multi-phase project aims to strategically fill vacancies, strengthen existing businesses, and increase the number and type of businesses in this vibrant neighborhood.
Established in 2000, the Upper Albany Main Street program’s mission is to preserve, revitalize and support the commercial district of Upper Albany by working with residents, merchants and stakeholders to create a neighborhood of choice. In keeping with this mission, UAMS recently embarked on an ambitious strategic visioning process with the community and local partners to attract visitors, new businesses and residents with its rich African American and West Indian heritage. Among the goals of this exercise is to see more economic activity along Albany Avenue and its spurs. During this process, area residents also identified various types of businesses they hope to see along the Avenue.
“We know what businesses the community wants in Upper Albany,” stated Marilyn Risi, Upper Albany Main Street Executive Director. “This partnership with Connecticut Main Street Center will support an important phase of this process by updating our inventories in a new way that will assist with marketing and recruitment.”
Using the grant provided by Travelers, CMSC will conduct a full, updated building, business, and vacancy inventory using a robust new tool, Ginko.City. Once the opportunities for investment and new business occupancy are established, CMSC and UAMS will co-create a marketing strategy that will support area entrepreneurs and help attract the kinds of businesses residents identified. UAMS will additionally tap into their Micro Business Incubator (MBI) participants to grow into available spaces. MBI, developed in 2002, is a joint project by Upper Albany Main Street, the University of Hartford and the Metro Hartford Alliance that matches micro-enterprises in the Upper Albany community with students from the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business to cultivate business capacity using an on-site, one-on-one training model that enables students and business owners.
This new collaboration between CMSC and UAMS is a pilot for a larger program, Diversity on Main, currently under development at CMSC. Diversity on Main is a planned approach to filling vacancies, creating vibrancy on main streets, and ensuring a mix of building and business ownership that is diverse and inclusive.
“We are very excited to partner with UAMS to curate a mix of new businesses that reflect the aspirations of the community while potentially providing opportunities for underserved businesses and entrepreneurs,” stated CMSC Executive Director, Michelle McCabe. “It’s wonderful to have a partner in UAMS to explore how we can energize our main streets in an inclusive way, test ideas and new tools, and support a business ecosystem. We are especially grateful to the Travelers Foundation for making the project possible.”
CMSC will work with Upper Albany Main Street over the next three months to collect data, convene stakeholders, and create a marketing plan to promote the revitalized area.
You can find information about CMSC, its members, and programs on their website.
Communications & Strategy Director
CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.
CMSC is supported by its Founding Sponsors, the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and Eversource Energy. CMSC is also supported by its Growth Sponsors, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at www.ctmainstreet.org.