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Calling All Visionaries

Feb 10, 2015
Bonnie J. Malley

As the new chair of the MetroHartford Alliance, I’ve been asked to gaze into my crystal ball and reveal what the future holds for our capital city and region. I don’t claim to have the power of prognostication, but I can make a reasonable prediction based on current progress, challenges and opportunities. And, I can say with certainty that together we can shape the future by our actions and choices today.

Momentum continues to build in downtown Hartford. Front Street is hopping with restaurants and entertainment. New apartments and condos will soon result in more people living downtown and  UConn and Trinity students will contribute to the vibrancy of the city. Public and private infrastructure investments spurred by the iQuilt plan are contributing to the greening of the city and providing pedestrian-friendly links to our many cultural assets. In the coming years, Hartford will continue to grow as a dynamic urban center, with more people of all ages and stages of life working, living and playing in the city. Additional businesses and services will emerge to meet the needs of new residents, workers and visitors. City neighborhoods and surrounding suburbs will benefit from this growth and development.

We are in the process of realizing this exciting vision. It’s important to remind ourselves that the development coming to fruition now is, in many cases, the result of years – even decades – of planning and hard work by a number of parties, including public and private sector partnerships. Newer downtown employees may not realize their lunchtime walks from Phoenix’s Boat Building to East Hartford and back are made possible by an audacious idea 30 years ago to lower I-91 and recapture the riverfront. Or, that the Science Center sits on a former Phoenix surface parking lot, the result of business and civic leaders envisioning a new entertainment district that now also includes the Hartford Marriott, Connecticut Convention Center and Front Street.

Good things happen in our city and region when people share ideas, big and small, and work collaboratively to make them a reality – even if that takes years or decades. We know there will always be obstacles to change and challenges to work through. The necessary resources may not be in place or the right solution not quite apparent. And, no single group or sector can do it alone. Working together, the Hartford region’s businesses, government and civic institutions can leverage our collective resources for our future benefit. 

This year, the MetroHartford Alliance will engage in a strategic planning process to chart its priorities for the next four years. Please join the conversation on how we can continue to strengthen the city as the dynamic urban core of the region. Share your thoughts about what we can do to market the region and attract people, jobs and capital. Let’s see what ideas of today take hold and lead to the Hartford of tomorrow.

Bonnie J. Malley is executive vice president and chief financial officer of The Phoenix Companies, Inc. and chair of the MetroHartford Alliance.

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