OP-ED: North Hartford Businesses Say Go Rock Cats! – Conditionally

August 18, 2014 at 17:12


OP-ED: North Hartford Businesses Say Go Rock Cats! – Conditionally

Support Minor League Baseball Plan, Encourage Meaningful Participation

Open Letter from:

Hartford Enterprise Zone Business Association (H.E.Z.B.A.)

To: City of Hartford, Mayor Segarra, Council Members, Residents and Rock Cats Owners:

Hartford is a great City, one that has overcome many hurdles. Our strength lies in our diversity, but many City victories have come at a price to city business owners and contractors.

The latest proposal to bring the Rock Cats minor league baseball team to Hartford is a great idea and one that should be welcomed with open minds. That said, we understand the opposition, particularly to the original plan, which would have unfairly burdened Hartford property owners with covering the $60 million price tag. The Plan B, which calls for private investment, is a more reasonable idea, especially for a city with a tax rate that hovers near 80 mills.

HEZBA and its associated North End business owners welcome this idea. But we cannot support a project that is implemented in the way of past practice, where minority contractors and business owners have been shut out. We constantly find ourselves having to fight for inclusion and a seat at the table on the planning and execution of these projects.

So while we welcome the stadium idea, our support is contingent on the following:

• Inclusion of minority contractors on stadium construction;

• Preference in hiring for Hartford residents;

• Support for North Hartford businesses through advertising in community newspapers and marketing vehicles;

• Procurement processes the provide preference to minority-owned North End businesses;

• Infrastructure and streetscape improvements on North Main Street to Windsor town line, and a digital billboard to promote North End celebrations and community events;

• Commitment from stadium owners to provide youth baseball and other sports opportunities, as well as workshops on sports management and entertainment marketing.

In the past, we have had to fight for inclusion on major development projects (i.e., Legislative Office Building, Adriaen’s Landing, MDC Clean Water Project). These tough lessons learned allowed us to be thoughtful about ways that future projects could strengthen our communities, and resulted in the aforementioned conditions.

This proposal has had a rough start and is being debated in the court of public opinion. By ensuring inclusion of those who will be directly impacted by the plan, the City will foster trust and build a united front – something Hartford desperately needs.

Comments welcomed.


W. Reggie Hales, President – H.E.Z.B.A


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