What is our project about?

Liberal Arts Action Lab (LAAL) with Capital Community College and Trinity College has partnered with Hartford NEXT to understand the socio-economic impact and challenges of small businesses in Hartford with a focus on three Neighborhood Revitalization Zones which are pre-selected by our community partner, Hartford NEXT. By understanding their socio-economic impacts on neighborhoods and the difficulties they experience sustaining their businesses, we make recommendations on how to engage  local small businesses with NRZs in order to strengthen the relation among them and support mechanisms that small businesses have.

Our Community Partner Organization

The community partner we are collaborating with is Hartford Next. Hartford Next is the coalition of Hartford’s Neighborhood Revitalization Zones (NRZs) and the City of Hartford. In 1995, an Act establishing a Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Process was passed by the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Rowland. Hartford NEXT was established in 1997 (State of Connecticut, 2022.) There are many small and locally owned businesses in the region, and Hartford Next’s mission is to be “A collective voice of Hartford residents and stakeholders working to strengthen and improve the community.” NRZs regularly hold meetings with the owners to engage with them and better understand their impact on community health. NRZs also represent a new kind of partnership and cooperation between the communities and the government. The City government used Hartford NEXT as a principal mechanism for soliciting community involvement in decision-making on neighborhood development. The benefit of NRZs includes bringing all stakeholders together to plan the neighborhood and establish a more flexible and creative government response to the demand of residents. (Hartford NEXT, 2022)

Hartford Next Logo
Hartford Next Logo

There are about 13 NRZs in the City of Hartford. As requested by our partner Hartford NEXT, our project is mainly focusing on the three NRZs: Clay Arsenal NRZ, Frog Hollow NRZ, and Southwest & Behind the Rocks.

NRZ logos
Clay Arsenal, Southwest/Behind the Rocks, Frog Hollow NRZ Logos

Our Research Area

NRZ borders and area map (Clay Arsenal, Frog Hollow, Southwest/Behind the Rocks) Source: Adapted from City of Hartford NRZs Map.
NRZ borders and area map (Clay Arsenal, Frog Hollow, Southwest/Behind the Rocks) Source: Adapted from City of Hartford NRZs Map.

Our Research Questions

  • What is the socio-economic impact of small businesses on neighborhoods?
  • What are the challenges small business owners face?
  • What is their support system and what kind of relations do they have with business groups and other organizations?
  • What is small business awareness of NRZs?
  • What can be recommended to NRZs for an effective engagement with small businesses?

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