This Is My Hartford is a new series from the MetroHartford Alliance where we connect with local business owners, community drivers, residents, and employees to find out how the Hartford Region has shaped them throughout their career, and what they have done to shape our city and region.
By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
Meet the next in our series, John Turgeon, Partner at CohnReznick.
WHY HARTFORD? WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE?
JOHN TURGEON: Being a lifelong resident of Connecticut, it seemed only natural when I graduated from college over 35 years ago to begin my career in the state’s capital city. What I learned about Hartford at that time was that it was vibrant and had a great deal to offer in terms of personal and professional opportunity, yet it was a city that would be much easier to navigate and enjoy unlike some of the larger more crowded cities I could have pursued.
As I look back now, I couldn’t have been more right in my assessment. Having traveled to, and worked in, several other places on assignments over the course of my career, I always found myself comparing them to what I knew and loved about Hartford. They were all fine places, but they weren’t what I enjoyed. They weren’t my Hartford.
HOW HAVE YOU BECOME A PART OF HARTFORD?
JOHN: To become part of something, you have to engage yourself in it. You can’t sit idle and wait for things to come to you.
In my case, that meant reaching out and proactively connecting myself to the people, the businesses, the cultural events, the not-for-profit organizations with wonderful missions, the teams, etc. I sought them all out. I wanted to find where I could contribute, who I could help, who might help me if I needed it, and what I could experience and enjoy.
In doing those things I quickly learned that I was creating a powerful bond between myself, the community, and the region as a whole. So much so, if something important is happening in Hartford today, I’d like to think people I know might expect to find me there.
I may not live inside the walls of the city itself, but it’s still home to me. My career is here. My colleagues and friends are here. A part of me will always be connected to Hartford.
HOW HAS HARTFORD BECOME A PART OF WHO YOU ARE?
JOHN: Like so many people around me, I’ve always tried to give the area my very best because of what it’s given to me. I’m coming up on nearly 40 years of working in the same city, which is because the opportunities have been here.
I feel a sense of obligation to serve as one of the city’s many prideful ambassadors. If being here has done good things for me, I’m certain it can do good things for others. I just want to chance to tell them more.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL MAKES HARTFORD UNIQUE?
JOHN: Cities, like businesses, have a culture inside of them. It’s not something you can mandate in a memo or dictate in a speech. Instead it comes about from the everyday actions of the people within it.
In the case of Hartford, the people here—and I like to think I’m one of them—are welcoming and inviting. They want to get to know you. They want to connect you to others. And they want to help where they can. Add to that the great arts, entertainment, and meeting places and you’ve defined a quaint city with a warm personality and a place people really want to be.
WHERE DO YOU SEE HARTFORD IN THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS?
JOHN: I think Hartford is going to continue to reinvent itself. Beyond the wonderful businesses and organizations that are already proud of being in Hartford and continue to make great commitments to the city, in the last few years, we’ve seen outside investors come in and buy commercial property in Hartford and the surrounding area because they believe there’s real value here.
People are buying into Hartford. We’ve seen new businesses come to the area and set up shop because they believe there is strong talent here. And we’ve seen people—young and old—move into all the great apartments that have come online because they believe they can enjoy a wonderful life here. Those are all positive signs and I’m convinced there are more to come.
I think we all agree it will still take some time and effort to get where we want to go, but there’s nothing wrong with that. If you start with something that’s not quite finished, it’s easier to finish it than if you’re starting with something that’s already built and you have to change it.
We’re working to shape the Greater Hartford area into what we know it can be. And while we have our share of challenges, just as any large metropolitan area might, I know we’re going to get it done. We’ve got this!