Small Business Showcase: The Connection Institute for Innovative Practice

01.08.2024
The Connection
Small Business

Each month, we profile a Connecticut small business, showcasing the ingenuity and innovation driving the state’s economy. For January, we’re featuring The Connection Institute for Innovative Practice, a Middletown-based organization providing professional development, training, and consultation.


When was your company founded?

1972

What does your company do? What service does your company provide?

The Institute for Innovative Practice is a social enterprise that provides professional development, training, and consultation to other organizations to generate revenue that supports the programs and services of The Connection.

Some ways that we can help you meet your mission include:

  • Practical skills training for business and human service professionals
  • Leadership development and coaching
  • Strategic planning and implementation
  • Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging assessments and planning

How many employees work for your company?

Approximately 400 people work for The Connection. The Institute for Innovative Practice social enterprise business unit is a team of seven.

Who are your customers?

We can work with anyone who would like to increase their business, leadership, and emotional intelligence skills. 

Professional development provided by social workers offers invaluable insights and tools to business professionals, enhancing the understanding of diverse perspectives and equipping professionals with crucial skills to navigate complex human interactions within the corporate landscape. 

We have worked with more than 314 different organizations in the past three years which include educational professionals (both K-12 and higher education), law practices, municipal departments, and other nonprofit organizations.

What makes your company unique?

As a social enterprise we operate with a unique purpose—to make a meaningful impact helping you meet your own mission while generating revenue that supports the programs and services of The Connection.

What is a fun fact about your business or its history?

Our organization was founded by two women in 1972 in Middletown.

Why did you choose Connecticut?

They chose Connecticut because it was their home community, and while volunteering they were inspired to write a grant to create safe housing for people after exiting treatment programs.

What is the greatest advantage to operating in Connecticut?

The top three advantages for operating in Connecticut are its central proximity to New York and Boston, which bring significant business opportunities, its highly educated and skilled workforce with access to renowned universities and specialized talent, and the well-developed infrastructure the state has created to support efficient business operations.

How do you try to give back to your community?

The revenue raised by the Institute for Innovative Practice is reinvested in the human services programs operated by The Connection around the state. 

The Connection operates more than 40 programs that provide assistance for homelessness, substance abuse treatment, and behavioral healthcare.

Where do you see your company in five years? Ten years?

In the next five years, our social enterprise aims to improve access to quality continuing education by leveraging innovative technology, partnerships, and funding. 

Our commitment to fostering inclusive, impactful learning experiences will drive social change. 

Our vision is to contribute to cultivating a skilled workforce equipped with the tools and knowledge to thrive in an evolving professional landscape.

What is the main thing policymakers could implement to make your company more competitive?

  • Public procurement policies: Advocate to implement policies that encourage government agencies to procure goods and services from social enterprises. 
  • Partnerships and collaboration: Foster collaboration between social enterprises, corporations, NGOs and educational institutions. Encouraging partnerships can enhance the reach and impact of social enterprises while promoting knowledge exchange and innovation, a win for everyone. 
  • Measuring social impact: Develop standardized metrics or guidelines to measure and report the impact created by social enterprises around the state. This transparency can help attract investors and build credibility.
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