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The Voice of Reason

Hope in the City

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Lads and lasses,

I felt the need to write this post in light of recent news that has conspired to give me hope in this city. You all likely know that I have hope even in the worst of times, but if you look at everything going on in the capitol region, there is plenty of room for hope.

Here are three major downtown development projects currently underway.

Public safety complex

AI Engineering building

Front Street

Regardless of how you might view each of them, they are all major projects costing more than $40 million each. One will bring a more visible police presence downtown, and station hundreds of officers and emergency workers downtown contributing to the vibrancy of the area. One will replace a vacant dated office with the most modern and green building in the city. It will be taller and more attractive and a better scale for the area. It will bring more workers, and new industries (engineering/green building) into downtown. And one will fill a long vacant parking lot across from the cities and the states primary point of introduction for visitors. The hundreds of thousands of visitors to the capitol each year will see a place to shop and eat across from their convention site/hotel. They will not know anything about its failings over the last 10 years, that is our burden alone. They will go home and talk about the shopping center across from the convention center, not the dirt hole.

3 projects, each of them creating MUCH higher uses than previously at their respective locations. Two of them increasing the tax base.

On top of the improvements in the built enviroment, there have been some nice moves that should set us up for the future as well.

On Monday night, Stanley Works bought Black & Decker effectively doubling the size of Stanley. While this may not bring too many more jobs to Hartford, it is certainly a major positive for a local company, and will lead to a few more high paid execs living here and their supporting assistants. This will help all of the areas charitable organizations, and sports teams as sponsorships and donations come from the corporate leaders. It adds to our regional reputation, and will increase Bradley traffic between here and Baltimore as well as to overseas and manufacturing divisions. It will someday hopefully continually ass HQ employees as the combined company gobbles up the small brand focused competitors. and this is the real victory since S/B&D is the biggest tool around now.

Last week we heard about ING Group of the Hague being broken in half by the European government. This severely damaged my 401K(I lost like 25%) but otherwise should be a boon for the area. While the banking units of ING direct will likely end up bought by some other entity, the insurance and investment units will likely stay mostly intact and will, it seems, be spun off in an IPO creating a new company that would be valued at over $20 Billion, and Headquartered in Hartford. I doubt this would bring many jobs to the area right away, but again company leadership would move here and corporate giving would be focused here. As long as there were not sales or whatever, the company should grow here and in time bring more jobs to the area. Plus, yes, another fortune 500.

In the next few weeks I would bet good money that UTC will announce the purchase of GE Security for around $2 Billion. This again would not be a major change in terms of jobs, but would effectively transform UTC fire/Security into a $6 billion company, bringing a few moew high end execs to their Farmington HQ.

Oakleaf Waste Management is still growing strong, and getting ready for an IPO. This company employs over 750 (july) and has something like 50(one of my old interns is one of them) temps on top of that working in the accounting dept alone trying to clean things up from the past so they can move forward in an organized way and go public. Management expected their growth to continue at the 20%+ level, meaning revenues will likely hit 940+million in 2009. The company will surely continue to hire at an impressive clip, and as I posted a while ago there is the real possibility of the construction of a new HQ building. The growth of Jim Barnes’s other company also bodes well for this.

FM facility Maintenance, Oakleaf’s sister company just signed the largest contract in commercial maintenance outsourcing history with 7-Eleven. The company is currently hiring in bulk(20 in one week at the call center) and expanding into Canada and opening an office in Dallas with 40 employees). The call center has experienced the most growth, but all aspects of the company have to grow significantly to handle the increased volume of work brought on by 7-11. If this deal is a success, the company has an even bigger fish on the line waiting for us to be able to onboard them, so expect this 300 employee company to outgrow its current space. We will likely have 500 within a year. And the mid term plan is to go public down the line (3 years?)

Magellan Health has made some recent acquisitions, so it is a company looking to expand in this market. No idea how much growth is planned, not how much space they take up out there in Avon

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That's a nice synopsis.

However, the city needs to deal with some systemic problems that hold it back, mainly, a corrupt mayor and a pro-union business punishing environment. The larger issue, a state government that thinks it can tax its way to prosperity also remains.

In reality, the city is quite amazing given the uphill battle it fights with local and state government.

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VOR, great analysis of the positive things going on in the city. I definitely agree that the 3 major projects you named will have a huge positive impact on the city and the situation with ING is one of the most intriguing events in the Hartford Business community in years. I think the public safety complex is going to improve that area in all sorts of ways and obviously the Convention Center area will look like pretty much a finished and shiny area of the city once Front Street and AI are finished with it. I do agree with BeerBeer that we need to resolve the situation with the mayor. It's time for new blood with a clean record to take the helm and govern the city in a truly professional manner. Overall though, I think Hartford as a city is moving in the right direction.

Things are not moving fast enough, but we have to always remember that this is Hartford we are talking about. This city had been completely written off during the entire 90's and now it is actually showing some signs of life. Hartford just needs to continue to build upon what it has and then expand. Right now Hartford is a good place to party and work. We need to make it an even better place to party and work and making Downtown safer is a huge part of that which the public safety complex should go a long way towards. Front Street and AI Technology also go a long way towards these goals. Hartford has a long way to go before it can call itself a great place to live but it's better than it used to be considering the fact that at the very least there are actually nice complexes and buildings to live Downtown and a few on the periphery.

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The Brazilian consulate is taking up 11,000 square feet on the street at the corner of Market and American row.

I have seen the work being done here for months, but am really psyched this is the location they chose.

very visual, and it now just makes me hope that a Brazillian resturant opens near by :)

anything that fills retail is good as far as I am concerned, and a few flags out front would be nice. :)

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Hartford Region Rises In Rankings Of Nation's 'Best Performing Cities'

By ERIC GERSHON

The Hartford Courant

November 12, 2009

The Hartford region rose more than 100 places in an annual ranking of the nation's "Best-Performing Cities" released on Wednesday, more than any other metro region in the nation...

http://www.courant.com/business/hc-milkenindex.artnov12,0,1478865.story

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The Brazilian consulate is taking up 11,000 square feet on the street at the corner of Market and American row.

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In the next few weeks I would bet good money that UTC will announce the purchase of GE Security for around $2 Billion. This again would not be a major change in terms of jobs, but would effectively transform UTC fire/Security into a $6 billion company, bringing a few moew high end execs to their Farmington HQ.

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Did we miss the announcement that Travelers has moved their HQ back to Hartford? This is not the only recent article I've come across labeling them as Hartford based. If this is the case, Hartford has added 2 Fortune 500 headquarters over the past year with Northeast Utilities and possibly Travelers. Add those to United Technologies, The Hartford, and Aetna within the city and Stanley Black & Decker in New Britain and new ING spin off in Windsor we may seriously be getting some of that old Hartford business clout back. Now that would be hope in the city! 5 Fortune 500s in Hartford with 2 more in the burbs. 7 Fortune 500s in Hartford County would also put us on equal footing with the 7 Fortune 500s that Fairfield County boasts and bring the total in CT to 14. Pretty damn impressive!

Hartford Business Journal

Former Travelers Cos. chairman and chief executive Robert I. Lipp will leave the Travelers board when his term expires, the Hartford insurer said.

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Did we miss the announcement that Travelers has moved their HQ back to Hartford? This is not the only recent article I've come across labeling them as Hartford based. If this is the case, Hartford has added 2 Fortune 500 headquarters over the past year with Northeast Utilities and possibly Travelers. Add those to United Technologies, The Hartford, and Aetna within the city and Stanley Black & Decker in New Britain and new ING spin off in Windsor we may seriously be getting some of that old Hartford business clout back. Now that would be hope in the city! 5 Fortune 500s in Hartford with 2 more in the burbs. 7 Fortune 500s in Hartford County would also put us on equal footing with the 7 Fortune 500s that Fairfield County boasts and bring the total in CT to 14. Pretty damn impressive!

Hartford Business Journal

Former Travelers Cos. chairman and chief executive Robert I. Lipp will leave the Travelers board when his term expires, the Hartford insurer said.

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