By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
MetroHartford Alliance Senior Director of Investor Relations Raina Giddings built a career she enjoys in the Hartford Region.
RAINA GIDDINGS: I’m a native of Hartford. I went away for college and lived and worked in other cities. I moved back to the Hartford Region six years ago. No matter where I’ve lived, Hartford was always home to me and it’s a great place to raise a family, in terms of education, parks, activities, and events.
What impact do you hope to make in the Hartford Region through the MHA?
RAINA: I come from a corporate background and I’ve worked for a lot of well-known companies including Oracle, IBM, Johnson Controls, and United Technologies Corporation (now Raytheon Technologies). In addition, because I’ve had the opportunity to do some international travel for business, I bring a lot of experience to the MHA.
It’s fulfilling to engage with different industries and meet so many interesting people who help achieve positive gains for the region with regard to growth and economic impact. In my role, I have access to information about internships, workforce development-initiatives and programs, so I can share opportunities that can make a meaningful impact for students, professionals, small businesses, and established organizations.
In addition, being able to have a lasting, positive effect on young people through MHA is personally gratifying. I’m passionate about finding innovative ways to solve problems, identify creative solutions, and cultivate critical connections to help people from all walks of life find their success.
I’m also proud to lead the MHA’s Racial Equity and Economic Development (REED) Leadership Committee, which was formed in the summer of 2020. The committee’s goal is to help the MHA achieve progress on racial equity in economic development by increasing issue awareness and developing impactful programming that results in concrete actions. Through that committee, we’re working to enhance our internal and community efforts to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Companies are responding positively and even developing their own internal actions to address these issues.
We do so much for the region from an economic development standpoint. It’s exciting to gain insight about plans for future real estate ventures or projects that drive growth and economic opportunities for the region and to witness our area’s nonprofits gain critical funding through the generosity of corporate and private donors, which enable them to continue to do the valuable work they do within the community.
How have you become a part of Hartford and how has Hartford become a part of who you are?
RAINA: Growing up here, I had my first experiences and made connections to corporate America, which catapulted me into other opportunities. I had internships when I was in high school and college with Travelers and the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC). Travelers offered me a job right after college, where I worked in Atlanta, GA. It was an awesome opportunity to get my first work experience.
What makes Hartford unique?
RAINA: Hartford is very vibrant and diverse—from its people to its food. I’m a foodie and enjoy visiting new and different restaurants and experiencing other cultures through food. It’s also great being able to make suggestions about local restaurants or places of interest to visitors so they can also experience the best of Hartford’s food scene.
Another thing that makes Hartford unique is the diversity of our communities (Jamaican, Indian, Polish, Jewish, and Hispanic, to name a few) and impressive divergence within our industry sectors (including insurance and financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, aerospace, and biotech).
How do you tell the story of Hartford?
RAINA: When I talk about Hartford, I touch on all aspects, reinforcing that it’s a great place to work and play. So, I make sure people know about our arts and entertainment and, of course, the incredible food! All these aspects make Hartford an exceptional place to build a business or a life. I also reinforce the fact that our region is home to several well-known Fortune 500 companies, which makes it an attractive business hub.
As a region, when we narrate our story, we can use plenty of data that highlights our strengths, distinguishes us from other regions, and showcases all we have to offer. I encourage everyone to be an ambassador and help share about all the things that make Hartford remarkable.