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Lamont Announces Two Initiatives for Place-Based Economic Development in Connecticut

  • Connecticut debuts initiatives for “place-based” economic development committing up to $200 million over the next five years
  • Innovation Corridor will fund at least two proposals seeking to make transformational change to major urban areas or regional economic centers
  • Connecticut Communities Challenge will provide smaller grants for projects to improve the livability, vibrancy, and appeal of communities

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Connecticut is launching two competitive grant programs designed to improve “place-based” economic development in the state’s cities and towns, committing up to $200 million to these initiatives over the next five years.

Both programs will be administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development, and both encourage municipalities to form partnerships with entities such as private businesses and developers, postsecondary educational institutions, and philanthropic or other not-for-profit organizations. Each has the goal of creating jobs, improving the livability of Connecticut cities and towns, and accelerating economic growth.

“Investing in our communities and high-growth industry sectors is a key part of our plan to accelerate long-lasting and equitable economic development in Connecticut,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “These two new programs will have wide-ranging impacts as we emerge stronger than ever from the pandemic, creating thousands of new jobs, improving the vibrancy and quality of life in our communities, and making all corners of the state even more attractive for investment and opportunity.”

The grants are part of Lamont’s Economic Action Plan, a five-year plan with $750 million in strategic initiatives. The funding is matched approximately dollar-for-dollar by private investors and other non-state funding, and is expected to create 80,000 new jobs in Connecticut.

“Connecticut continues to take a careful, strategic approach to its investments, and these two new programs have the opportunity to be truly transformational for participating communities,” said David Lehman, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. “Both programs encourage public-private partnerships that will foster collaboration at the local level and leverage state dollars, strengthening both the quality and the impact of the projects being submitted for consideration.”

Awards are tentatively set to be announced in March or April of 2022.

Innovation Corridor

The Innovation Corridor initiative will choose at least two proposals aimed at making transformational change to major urban areas or regional economic centers. Applicants should seek to pursue projects designed to facilitate the creation of at least 15,000 new jobs in the fields of data science, advanced manufacturing, insurance technology, or other high-growth industries.

Grants awarded through these initiatives can be up to $50 million, and a total of $100 million will be awarded. Applicants must declare their intent to apply by Nov. 19 and submit an application by March 4, 2022.

Full information on the Innovation Corridor initiative can be found here.

Connecticut Communities Challenge

The Connecticut Communities Challenge program aims to fund a wide range of projects to “improve livability, vibrancy, and appeal of communities throughout the state.” The initiative also looks to create up to 3,000 new jobs, and allocate at least half of the program’s funding to support projects in distressed municipalities.

Grant sizes range from $1 million to $10 million. The Connecticut Communities Challenge will be funded with up to $100 million over the next five years, meaning the money can support as few as 10 or as many as 100 projects.

DECD gives several examples of qualifying projects, including:

  • Development to densify commercial or residential development near transit hubs
  • Development of downtown areas or major hubs through the improvement or reuse of existing properties
  • Essential infrastructure to facilitate future development
  • Housing to support affordability, accessibility, and the local workforce
  • Mobility improvements to increase connectivity to transit and promote economic development, including pedestrian and bicycle paths as well as Americans with Disabilities Act improvements
  • Public space improvements to provide community amenities, including open spaces, public art projects, wayfinding, and lighting and safety improvements

Applicants must submit an intent to apply form by Dec. 3 and a full application by Jan. 14, 2022. Full information on this program can be found here.

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