Stanley Black & Decker's decision to open an advanced manufacturing training and research center in downtown Hartford is exactly the type of approach needed to strengthen Connecticut's economy.
CBIA Education & Workforce Partnership vice president Andrea Comer said Stanley's decision offers a model for industry engagement and urban revitalization.
"Industry plays a critical role in ensuring a competitive workforce and crafting economic development strategies," Comer said.
"Too often, industry and government fail to collaborate as true thought partners in developing solutions.
"Stanley's decision sends a strong message to other manufacturers—and sectors—that investing in urban centers is an investment in the entire state."
The 23,000 square-foot center, expected to open in the second quarter of 2018 at One Constitution Plaza, will create 50 jobs for industry professionals and provide a much needed boost for Hartford.
'Sense of Urgency'
Like many urban centers, Hartford is grappling with a reduced tax base, disproportionate unemployment, and a critical need for private sector investment.
Stanley president and CEO Jim Loree said the decision was driven by a need to help drive solutions that will address the economic challenges faced by both the state and its capital city.
"Strong urban cores, and in particular a vibrant capital city, are essential to Connecticut's ability to thrive," Loree said in a statement.
"With the budget now passed, the hard work can begin to solve some of the state's structural fiscal challenges and put the state on a more sound economical path.
"We cannot lose the sense of urgency and must recognize that the state is at a critical juncture.
"As a company founded in New Britain, Connecticut, almost 175 years ago, we have expressed our commitment from a social responsibility perspective to being part of the solution."
Advanced Manufacturing Accelerator
Stanley also announced a partnership with startup accelerator Techstars to run an additive manufacturing accelerator at the new Hartford facility.
The program will identify 10 startups in the additive manufacturing space and provide them with mentoring and resources to grow their ideas into viable businesses and bring new technologies to market.
With the budget now passed, the hard work can begin to solve some of the state's structural fiscal challenges.
Stanley officials said its Hartford site "will serve as the epicenter for the latest technologies and processes with respect to Industry 4.0," adding that Connecticut can be a leader in advanced manufacturing, including the internet of things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and robotics.
Earlier this year, CBIA organized discussions with representatives from the public sector, education, industry, and philanthropy about bringing manufacturing workforce training to under-served communities.
Comer said there is significant untapped talent in neighborhoods across the state and improving access to training for urban residents establishes a new pipeline for addressing critical workforce development needs.
"Our younger generation of workers are leaving Connecticut for states that have thriving urban centers with easy access to live, work and play," she said. "That fact has prompted relocation of businesses, decline in post-secondary enrollment, and a desperate need for talent.
"Turning those disheartening facts into glimpses of hope isn't impossible, but it will take a commitment to bring all stakeholders to the table, and a willingness to embrace disruptive strategies.
"The concept continues to gain momentum and Stanley's bold move will only bolster that plan."
Comer added that CBIA will launch an initiative next year that helps businesses—particularly small businesses—readily access interns, resources and a scorecard that provides information about training and workforce development programs.
"The goal is simple," Comer said. "To strengthen the connection between employers and job seekers and promote the retention of talent and business."