Category: Community News

HEDCO Highlights Temple Body Butter LLC

HEDCO showcased Temple Body Butter, LLC  (TBB) in an article titled, Temple Body Butter: Nourishing Lives with Nature’s Touch, written by Itzel Martinez Garcia on April 30, 2024.

Lyons was lauded as a visionary and a bright gem with the promise of natural healing and the warmth of Caribbean wisdom. Under the caption Crafting Organic Butter for the Skin and Soul, TBB was touted as offering solace to anyone seeking to avoid the chemical-laden products of mass production. TBB has twenty-one enchanting scents. Each whipped body butter is a diverse blend of Shea, Cocoa, Nilotica, and Mango, butters catering to fragrant and fragrance-free personal preferences, that are available for purchasing online at TBB’s website: www.templebodybutter.com

In acknowledgment, Lyons said, “I want to provide our customers with products they can be confident knowing are sourced from natural, pure, and organic ingredients that are Fair Trade Certified. We live in a society where everything is mass-produced and filled with chemicals that are harmful to the body. Using our products eliminates that worry.” 

Additional information may be viewed on the HEDCO website at: https://hedcoinc.com/temple-body-butter-nourishing-lives-with-natures-touch/ 

Photo Source Credit: Itzel Martinez Garcia, HEDCO and June Lyons

 

June Lyons poses with assortment of butters
tbb-product-assortment

Hartford’s four-mile underground tunnel

According to an article in the CT Insider,  Capital Region, in 2022, a tunnel boring system called IRIS – which is a major component of MDC’s Clean Water Project that was established in connection with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – had churned its way through the Earth, 200 feet below the surface, creating a tunnel four miles long and 18-feet in diameter, which is intended to catch overflowing water across the southwest portion of Hartford.

The red cutter-head which is the front of the tunnel boring machine, was lowered 200-ft into the tunnel launch shaft on Brainard Road, Hartford, in August 2018
The red cutter head, the front of the tunnel boring machine, was lowered 200 feet into the tunnel launch shaft on Brainard Road, Hartford, in August 2018. Credit: MDC

This is a view at the bottom of the tunnel looking up toward the retrieval shaft in West Hartford. Source Credit: Contributed phone/MDC
This is a view at the bottom of the tunnel looking up toward the retrieval shaft in West Hartford. Source Credit: Contributed phone/MDC

City officials have concurred that the sewer system in Hartford is outdated – stormwater and sewage share the same pipes. IRIS was born from the challenges encountered by the MDC while trying to implement sewer separation in the Hartford community. This tunnel is the first of its kind in Connecticut. The project began in 2018, creating a tunnel that starts at Brainard Road in Hartford and ends at the MDC’s retrieval facility on Talcott Road in West Hartford.

The project is expected to be functional in 2026 after construction on the pump station is finished. When implemented, the overflowing water, upon entering the tunnel,  will be treated before being deposited into the Connecticut River.

Source Credit: Emily DiSalvo, Staff Writerhttps://www.ctinsider.com/capitalregion/article/ct-hartford-underground-tunnel-mdc-iris-18612681.php

Hartford initiative to help entrepreneurs

Hartford officials have announced the formation of a new office dubbed  “The Business One-Stop”  intended to ease the challenges to entrepreneurs creating small businesses in the City of Hartford.

The Office of the Business One-Stop will be part of the Department of Development Services and will liaise with small business owners seeking direct help navigating the process of starting a business. According to the Hartford Courant,  Randall Davis, interim director of the department, said that to ensure streamlined communication, this newly created office will report directly to the mayor’s office.

Don Chapman, a long-time urban planner and a previous Director of Small Business and Community Development for the City of Hartford, has been tapped to lead the new office after Mayor Arulampalam noted that in conversations with small business owners, they all repeatedly mentioned Don Chapman. Chapman’s primary role will be to help small business owners navigate city hall and ensure timely responses to their questions.

Mayor Arulampalam has expressed his hope that this process will open doors to more investment in the city via a simple process that ensures entrepreneurs opening a small business do not have to hire a lawyer or a lobbyist to navigate city hall.

Source: Stephen Underwood, Hartford Courant, January 17, 2024. 

Downpayment Assistance Program for Low and moderate income homebuyers in Hartford

According to information from the City of Hartford’s website, the HouseHartford Homebuyer Assistance Program was created by the City of Hartford, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Fannie Mae.

The program offers low and moderate-income home buyers down payment assistance for the purchase of one- to four-family homes located in the City of Hartford.

HouseHartford promotes livable and sustainable neighborhoods by making the dream of homeownership attainable for many families who may not otherwise qualify for a mortgage.

The City of Hartford partners with local and national banks, real estate attorneys, and home buyer counseling agencies to administer this program, and since its inception, the program has assisted more than 1,300 families in attaining the dream of homeownership.

A  copy of the HouseHartford brochure may be downloaded by clicking here. Additional information is located on the City’s website.

Step 1. Review the Guidelines

  • What type of properties are eligible?  1-4 family homes and condominium units located in the City of Hartford.
  • What is the amount of home buyer assistance that one can receive?  Potential home buyers can receive up to 20% of the purchase price in down payment assistance up to a maximum assistance of $40,000. Restrictions may apply.
  • Who can apply?  Low and moderate-income potential homeowners can apply for assistance under this program. Program restrictions are based on the total annual household income of the applicant. The total annual household income of the home buyer cannot exceed the income limits as shown on the HouseHartford brochure, based on household size. These maximum income limits are established by HUD and are based on 80% of the Hartford Area Median Family Income.

Step 2. Contact a Participating Lender

Contact one of the participating lenders below and inform them of your interest in applying for the HouseHartford program. The lender will submit the HouseHartford application to the City on your behalf.

  1. American Eagle Financial C.U. – 860.568.2020
  2. Embrace Home Loans – 860.919.7755
  3. Fairway Independent Mortgage – 860.803.0810
  4. First World Mortgage – 860.785.4066
  5. Guild Mortgage Company, LLC – 860.462.8553
  6. Liberty Bank – 860.982.6601

Step 3. Complete the Program Interest Form

Interested in learning more about the House Hartford program? Complete and submit the form after clicking the link below and a member of the City of Hartford Housing staff will contact you.

Click Here!

 

Source: City of Hartford

 

International Hartford Micro Grant Program to assist small business owners

In a meeting with members of the Upper Albany Merchant Association, Erwin Hurst, Sr. informed that International Hartford works closely with several organizations including HEDCO to offer various business services and micro-grant opportunities to minority entrepreneurs. There is currently a micro-grant program in amounts up to $10,000 for which small business owners may apply. Grants will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis until funds are depleted.

According to its website, International Hartford is a non-profit organization dedicated to the creation of jobs in Hartford for immigrants and refugees by helping them become entrepreneurs and build their businesses. Through business classes and financial consulting, as well as loan preparation and step-by-step assistance, the organization focuses on supporting the entrepreneurial initiative of Hartford immigrants to ensure starting a business in Connecticut is easier and more feasible with help from the organization. Connecticut welcomes immigrants and International Hartford helps them create jobs in Hartford.

Regardless of your country of origin, if you need help starting a business in Connecticut or finding your way, International Hartford will assist you on diverse projects. Contact Erwin Hurst at (860) 490- 4557 or visit the International Hartford website for further details.

Stalled Development, Mounting Fees, and Court Delays: Uncertainty for Planned Development around Dunkin’ Park

The future of development around Dunkin’ Park remains unclear as the latest legal endeavors by the City of Hartford to regain control of the land are pushed closer to the end of the year. A hearing scheduled to commence this week was delayed potentially until late November. Consequently, plans for the mixed-use development of parcels close to the City’s minor league ballpark remain stalled as the City’s legal fees continue to mount.

Both the City and the former developers – Centerplan and Do No Hartford – have been in a legal battle that has ensued since Mayor Luke Bronin fired the developers, thus creating a need to determine who has the legal right to develop the land around the ballpark. This long-running dispute could last for years, but earlier this summer both sides publicly hinted at a potential settlement, but they are still firmly dug in for the long haul.

According to the Hartford Courant, an attorney for Centerplan and Do No Hartford suggested a potential opportunity to resolve the dispute regarding claims that the City wrongfully terminated the developers. In late July, Louis R. Pepe, a partner in the law firm McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney, & Carpenter in Hartford, told the Courant, “… litigation is seldom the best way to resolve disputes like this. Centerplan and DoNo are open to any reasonable proposal to end the current standoff or to engage in mediation for that purpose.”

Pepe continued, “Unfortunately, the city has made it clear it will not sit down with Centerplan and DoNo, and so there can be little doubt who must bear the responsibility for the freeze on the parcels in question.”

In a statement to the Courant, City Corporation Counsel – Howard Rifkin – disputed assertions that the City was not open to talks to resolve the litigation. He agreed that litigation is not the best approach to resolve these kinds of issues, and the City is confident it will prevail – yet again -in a jury trial, as it did in the first trial. Rifkin continued, ” … we take seriously our fundamental obligation to protect taxpayers. The City has never closed the door on [the] discussion to resolve this litigation, and we are certainly open to reasonable resolutions – but I’d put a lot of emphasis on the word ‘reasonable’.”

City records indicate that Legal fees have already topped $6 million.  This long-standing legal battle has been pushed back until at least mid-November. A delay was granted due to the Judge’s trial schedule. Centerplan and DoNo Hartford blame the city because its flawed designs resulted in cost overruns and delays in the ballpark construction. The previous developers also moved to regain control of the development around Dunkin’ Park.

In retrospect, after terminating Centerplan and DoNo from the contract, the City hired another developer to complete the  6,100-seat Dunkin’ Park. It opened for the 2017 season of the Yard Goats (a year later than previously scheduled). In 2019, a superior court jury sided with the City’s decision to terminate Centerplan and DoNo Hartford.

After its 2019 victory in the wrongful termination lawsuit, the City of Hartford contracted RMS Companies to take over the redevelopment. The 270 apartments included in the first phase are now completed, but the litigation regarding who has the right to develop has prevented RMS from breaking ground on the second phase of four planned phases.

Last year, the Superior Court ordered a new trial due to the ambiguity of who has legal control over the stadium and its design. Centerplan and DoNo Hartford have argued that the City of Hartford’s flawed design created cost overruns and delays in the construction. The barrier to further development intensified when a Superior Court judge ruled that a decision regarding the right to develop should be made after the new trial and a decision on the wrongful termination issue. The new trial is scheduled for April 2024.

In the meantime, RMS Salvatore,  in his commitment to move forward, entered into a contract to purchase the neighboring campus of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and has announced plans to build a phased-in-mixed-use development on the RPI campus. Hence, approval is now sought for $16.6 million in financing (set aside for the next phase of North Crossing) to be potentially used for the first phase of the planned development on the RPI campus.

 

Source: Kenneth R. Gosselin, Hartford Courant, (Monday, October 2, 2023) kgosselin@courant.com

HEDCO – SAMA Small Business Grant

According to information retrieved from the HEDCO website, HEDCO and the Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) have partnered with the Officer of the Governor, the State of Connecticut, and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to provide grants of up to $30,000 to small businesses throughout the State of Connecticut.

The program will not only assist with funding but it will also connect small business applicants to the organizations’ Ecosystem of Providers. Info from HEDCO’s website is provided below:

This ecosystem will include lawyers, accountants, human resources, insurance agencies, marketing firms, and other providers to supply small businesses with the resources they need to start-up, sustain, or grow their enterprises – many resources which are too expensive or unattainable otherwise.

This program is designed for businesses seeking growth and long-term success. It will require an assessment process to identify and analyze areas of need. Experienced professionals will be available to guide participants through the process. The outcome offers valuable insights into strengths, weaknesses, growth opportunities, and strategies for overcoming challenges.

Eligibility
This grant program requires that your small business must:

  1. Go through the assessment process provided by the program
  2. Be a for-profit business with no more than 25 full-time and/or part-time employees.
  3. Be a registered business operating in Connecticut.
  4. Be in good standing with the Department of Revenue Services (DRS)
  5. Be in good standing with the Department of Labor.
  6. Have been conducting business for a minimum of one year.

Terms and Conditions

  1. Grants up to $30,000 are offered subject to the following disclaimer, “The amount you have requested may not equal the amount you are approved for.”
      • Zero percent interest rate
      • No application fee
      • Closing fee of $500.00
      • Grants do not have to be paid back to HEDCO, Inc. unless funds are used to cover ineligible expenses. The business must show documentation of expenditures in accordance with your cash flow projections.

Application and Approval Process – Submit the following documents:

Application Apply Online, (before starting the application, be sure to have the relevant documents [itemized below] ready to upload).

  1. Latest tax return for 1 year (business and personal) or Profit and Loss for prior year
  2. Year-to-date Profit and Loss Statement
  3. Status Letter from Department of Revenue Services How to get a Status Letter
  4. Status Letter from Department of Labor Request Letter of Good Standing
  5. Cash flow projections for 12 months Download Cash Flow Projections Sheet
  6. Source and Use of Funds Form Download Source and Use Form
  7. Statement about how these grant funds will be utilized to help grow your business.

Apply Now!

For additional information about the program and assistance with the completion of your application call HEDCO at (860) 527-1301 or email applications@hedcoinc.com

Repeated flooding brought an end to this CT business. ‘My heart was crying, because we work hard.’

The Hartford Courant reports that when Max Kothari and his wife bought the Star Hardware store their vision was to provide jobs and service to the city and its residents. However, to the Kotaris’ dismay, the last four storms that brought flooding and sewage to the neighborhood have forced them to close their doors for good to the community that they have loved and cultivated throughout the years.

Kothari said that the most recent two storms finally did the store in, as he kept acquiring inventory damages. He said that the remaining inventory will be given to Habitat for Humanity. While the store is permanently closed, the appliance and window portion remains open at the building next door and no employees will lose their employment, he said. He expressed his belief that the closing of the hardware store is a casualty of the city government choosing not to take action.

Kothari said that every time it rains, a nearby retention pond overflows into the building, which causes flooding damage within the hardware store – and which has happened to him four times.

“The mayor knows that the leaks are coming from the pond (in the back of the store), but we are not getting (help)…,” Kothari said. “It’s just put a nail in the coffin for the hardware store, as we are struggling with other things…closing the hardware store has nothing to do with our hardware community or our customers. Our customers are still coming…We believe (it was due to) lack of competency on the part of the city government.”

“It is an incompetency factor that we need to bring out…that people are just not managing our affairs with the city correctly, and then hiding behind this always (as an) environmental issue and…a weather issue…that was a conscious decision to ignore the North End and it’s very disheartening,” he said.

Mayor Luke Bronin said Monday, “I suspect that Star Hardware was suffering from the understandable challenges of competing as an independent business in an industry dominated by chains, and it’s perplexing that Mr. Kothari feels the need to make the statements that he’s made — which are neither accurate nor fair — about a city that has tried very hard to help him.

“The city has committed significant investment in the north end of Hartford, with tens of millions of dollars of additional investment in process today — including along North Main Street near Mr. Kothari‘s property, from broadband expansion, to housing, to the recent announcement of a $19 million streetscape grant for North Main,” Bronin said.

“The city has taken a direct and active role in attempting to resolve the issues of flooding near Mr. Kothari’s property, including submitting an application to the state’s Community Investment Fund to expand the retention pond adjacent to his property. That project, which would cost more than $6 million…and would primarily benefit Mr. Kothari’s property, was not selected for funding — but it has remained a priority ask for the city,” Bronin said.

Further, Bronin said, “following the severe floods in 2021, we convened multiple conversations between the Housing Authority, the MDC, and Mr. Kothari, in an attempt to broker a resolution that would help address Mr. Kothari’s issues— even though those conversations were complicated by the fact that Mr. Kothari had threatened legal action against the MDC and the Housing Authority. Ultimately, the only way to eliminate the risk of flooding on Mr. Kothari’s property is the same as it is elsewhere, and that is massive, long-term investment in upgrading an ancient storm sewer system that’s overwhelmed by the increasingly intense storms.”

Bronin also, in previously offering support to residents, has noted the sewer systems were built more than a century ago, “for the most part. It’s an ancient system” and that there is work being done to separate the sewer from the storm sewer, “so that when there’s flooding, it doesn’t back up and put sewage back into people’s basements.”

Kothari’s decision to close came less than a month after Gov. Ned Lamont and his administration in June committed $85 million in state funding from the state Clean Water Fund and related funding for a pilot program to address sewage overflows in streets and basements in North Hartford. Residents and businesses there have been chronically impacted by the long-term recurrence of flooding.

The Clean Water Fund is administered by state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and is used by the state to provide financial assistance to municipalities for projects addressing wastewater. The new money is expected to be applied to 12 projects proposed by the Metropolitan District to increase protections from sewer and stormwater-related flooding and backups in North Hartford, with the project estimated to cost $170 million in total.

Officials also have said that, coupled with the $85 million commitment, the biennial state budget that Lamont signed creates the Hartford Sewerage System Repair and Improvement Fund, a pilot grant program overseen by State Comptroller Sean Scanlon that will provide support to Hartford residents impacted by flood damage on or after Jan. 1, 2021.

Kothari said that making the decision to close the store has hit residents and his employees the most, as they have developed strong friendships with community members who have patronized the store throughout the years.

“It’s been the hardest on the employees, because they every day helped people. And suddenly those same people when they come through the other door, (and) say ‘Hey, can I just get a can of paint? Hey, can I just get this? Hey, can I get that?’ We have to now say no…,” he said.

“Even though you don’t realize it, it’s the same contractor that walks into the neighborhood that does X amount of work, this will be the same person that lives down the street. Emotionally, it’s very, very hard to absorb, after such a long history, something like this can happen,” he said.

Kothari said that while many of his employees disagreed with the decision and wanted to try to figure out a way to keep the business open, the losses kept coming one after the other with the recent storms, leaving him with no other choice.

One of his employees, Sam, has been working at the store for 25 years – opening and closing the store, said that it was very hard for him to hear the hardware store is closing, as he made many friends with community members.

“My heart was crying, because we work hard…the heartbreak. We miss friends, it’s been 25 years…we feel it bad in our heart, because we have been through every day like that…When we see the weather, we are scared,” he said.

Another employee of the hardware store, Lloyd Brown, has also worked there for 25 years and said that it is difficult to see the store close.

“To be honest, I felt really bad about that. Because I’ve been in the system with the hardware (for) so long…I have other customers that come in and feel the same way,” he said.

Now that the hardware store is closed, the workers said, residents will have to travel to other surrounding towns. as this was a primary business for many community members to get their keys made, get screws or locks for their home projects, or buy a can of paint.

Kothari said that he is truly grateful to the North End Community for supporting the store throughout the years.

“The most important thing (that) needs to (be said) about today: I cannot be more thankful to the North End community,” he said. “There are folks in our community that will leave Home Depot to buy stuff at my place. The only reason is because they cared, because they knew we cared here. We used to issue credit to contractors, just at face value, all those things the community (will) miss,” he said.

Source: Deidre Montague, Hartford Courant, July 11, 2023