On Monday, June 6, 2016, Connecticut Main Street Center presented the Founder’s Award in recognition of individuals and organizations who dedicate themselves to promoting an awareness of the necessity of a comprehensive management approach to the revitalization of Connecticut’s historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. This year, Connecticut Main Street Center has selected Upper Albany Main Street and the University of Hartford to receive this award.
Since June 2000, Upper Albany Main Street and the University of Hartford have partnered in creating an environment where the university and its neighboring community can benefit from one another – a partnership that has brought real world learning and service to the community, while engaging the neighborhood with an outstanding educational institution right in its own backyard.
The University of Hartford was created in 1957 with a vision of being a ‘private university with a public purpose.’ The University’s vibrant relationship with the Greater Hartford community, and especially with the Upper Albany neighborhood, is a hallmark of President Harrison’s leadership. The University is a recognized leader in helping to improve public schools. It was the first private university in the country with two public magnet schools on campus: the University of Hartford Magnet School and the University High School of Science and Engineering.
Upper Albany Main Street’s mission is ‘to preserve, revitalize and support the commercial district of the Upper Albany Avenue to create a neighborhood of choice.” By dedicating itself to a solution-oriented culture, building strategic alliances, and remaining focused in the face of competing issues, Upper Albany Main Street has positioned itself as the convener and professional manager of The Avenue, playing a central role in such activities as:
- The 2011 construction of the new 8,000 square foot Albany Avenue branch of the Hartford Public Library, at the corner of Albany and Blue Hills Avenue.
- The $28 million Route 44 (Albany Avenue) Safety Improvement Project (streetscape and realignment), which begins construction in 2017.
- The Upper Albany Commercial Facade Improvement Program, a $6.2 million investment in the neighborhood, which will improve 31 properties over the next three years.
The Upper Albany Micro Business Incubator (MBI) program was developed in 2002 as a joint project by Upper Albany Main Street, the University of Hartford and the Metro Hartford Alliance. The MBI program matches micro-enterprises in Upper Albany 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 to work together. Over the past ten years, this program has provided training and technical assistance to 153 businesses.
As a direct result of the MBI program, 28 businesses have received computers and training, and 50 businesses received loan assistance totaling over $3,270,000. More than 250 new jobs have been created in the neighborhood and 4 businesses significantly expanded their operations by opening satellite branches. There has been over $95.5 million dollars in private investment infused within the community of Upper Albany and $195 million in public investment. As least 415 students have participated in the program providing a staggering total of over 55,733 hours of training to the business owners of Upper Albany.
The board and staff of Upper Albany Main Street, in partnership with the University of Hartford, is committed to linking Upper Albany businesses to outside resources and to the residents, while working to promote The Avenue as a destination for arts, education and entertainment.
Connecticut Main Street center and Eversource are proud to recognize Upper Albany Main Street and the University of Hartford for their outstanding contributions to Main Street Revitalization.