MAYOR BRONIN APPLAUDS BOND COMMISSION AND SENATOR FONFARA FOR SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES
HARTFORD, CONN. (Feb. 2, 2017) – On Wednesday, the State Bond Commission authorized $5M to provide grants to the Hartford Economic Development Corporation (HEDCO) to establish a revolving loan fund for minority-owned small businesses. The funds, which will be administered by both HEDCO and the Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA), can be used by minority business owners for acquisition or purchase of machinery and equipment, construction or leasehold improvements, relocation expenses, working capital or other business related expenses.
In a statement on Thursday, Mayor Bronin thanked Senator John Fonfara for his leadership in securing these funds, as well as the Governor’s office and the State Bond Commission for their support. “I want to thank Senator Fonfara for his tremendous leadership in fighting so hard for these funds, and the Governor’s Office and State Bond Commission for recognizing how important it is to support our small, minority-owned businesses,” said Bronin. "When local small and minority-owned businesses succeed, it helps create opportunities for residents throughout our city. We all know that there’s nothing more important than growing jobs and expanding opportunity, and this is one of the best ways to do it.”
Bronin noted that both HEDCO and SAMA have a strong track record of supporting small, minority-owned businesses. “HEDCO and SAMA have been working with our small, minority-owned businesses for decades, and they are both dedicated and effective in helping small businesses get access to much-needed capital so they can grow and reach their full potential.”
MAYOR BRONIN AND METROHARTFORD ALLIANCE PROMOTE EX-OFFENDER EMPLOYMENT
HARTFORD, CONN. (Jan. 31, 2017) – On Monday, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin joined Oz Griebel, President and CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance, for a forum on hiring returning citizens and promoting second chances. The meeting was presented in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Correction, Connecticut Business and Industry Association, Greater Hartford Reentry Council, and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
“I want to thank the MetroHartford Alliance and all of the employers who are a part of this important effort to eliminate barriers and give people a second chance,” said Mayor Bronin. “The most important message from this forum is that giving someone a second chance and looking beyond their past can actually be good for business. Employers tell me all the time that, when they hire individuals with criminal records, they often turn out to be among the most loyal, dedicated, hardworking employees – because they know how hard it was to get that chance.”
Bronin noted that, with the end of the Obama Administration, it’s even more important that we promote second chance initiatives at the local level and work directly with private employers. “We’ve been very lucky that the Obama Administration made re-entry and second chances a priority, promoting the Fair Chance Business Pledge and legislation to ban the box,” said Bronin. “We may not have that same perspective or vision in Washington with this new administration, and that makes the work being done here today by private employers and local organizations all the more important.”
Cheryl McDonald, one of the owners of Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ, spoke about her experience hiring individuals who have previously been incarcerated. Opening their first location in Windsor three years ago, Cheryl and Jamie McDonald’s first two hires were justice involved. Bear’s has since grown quickly and has established relationships with community providers in Hartford, and now approximately half of all Bear’s employees were formerly incarcerated. Bear’s has also been an exemplary employer by raising the minimum wage for all employees to $15 per hour. Ms. McDonald, coming from a background in human resources, said that she “goes with her gut” when interviewing people with a criminal record and discussed a mutual respect she has formed with her employees. Mayor Bronin praised Bear’s as the perfect example of a company that is “doing well by doing good.”
Oz Griebel, President of the MetroHartford Alliance, discussed the wide range of benefits in hiring formerly incarcerated individuals. “While we need to discuss the challenges people face in making the transition back to their communities and society at large, we want to promote the training and support available to help these individuals secure employment, an absolutely critical component to that transition, and to help employers that can benefit from this additional source of talent. The Mayor’s leadership and that of Commissioner Semple, the dedication of numerous service providers, the enthusiasm of employers who have already made successful hires, and, most of all, the stories of those who have been hired inspire all of us to commit to the sustained success of this important civic, economic, and social initiative.”
Two returning citizens shared their stories about completing education and working with Community Partners in Action to find employment after being incarcerated. A panel comprised of Commissioner Scott Semple from the Department of Corrections, Maureen Price Boreland from Community Partners in Action, Cheryl McDonald from Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ, and Brian Delude from the Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch also shared their first hand experiences in working with returning citizens.
Commissioner Semple, among other things, established dedicated reentry units inside prisons and is committed to reengaging employers. Under Governor Malloy, Connecticut has emerged as a leader for the nation in decreasing the prison population. “We have seen a 6.2% decrease in the prison population, and a 12% increase in the community supervision model. The Department of Corrections acts as an experimental site implementing creative new programs to get people educated and back to work,” said Commissioner Semple.
MAYOR BRONIN NOMINATES MEMBER TO BOARD OF EDUCATION
HARTFORD, CONN. (Jan. 30, 2017) - Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin today announced that he is nominating Kim Oliver to serve on the Board of Education. The nomination is subject to approval by the City Council.
“Kim Oliver will be a tremendous addition to the Board of Education,” Mayor Bronin said. "Kim has been a key part of my administration’s efforts to strengthen youth engagement and workforce development. By serving on the Board of Education, Kim will also serve as a crucial link between the Hartford Public School system and the Department of Children, Families, Youth and Recreation – just as her predecessor, Dr. Jose Colon-Rivas, did. I’m proud to nominate Kim.”
Ms. Oliver is the Director for the City of Hartford’s Department of Family, Children, Youth and Recreation. Before joining the City of Hartford, she served as the Director of Youth Services at Capital Workforce Partners, providing leadership and oversight for youth workforce development. In this role, she partnered with government, employers, service providers, philanthropy, and other stakeholders to provide in-school, at risk, and out-of-school youth (ages 14 to 24) learning opportunities in career competencies, occupational skills, and work experiences.
She also served as the Director of Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative and partners with the Aspen Institute, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, employers, service providers, philanthropic organizations, and other key stakeholders to implement a comprehensive plan that integrates education, youth development, and workforce development systems. The Hartford Opportunity Youth Collaborative addresses the needs and challenges of 6,300 “Opportunity Youth” — young workers (ages 16-24) who do not have a high school diploma or who have a diploma but are not in school and not working — and successfully reconnect them to education and employment.
Born and raised in Hartford, Ms. Oliver attended Thomas Snell Weaver High School in Hartford, graduating as a Jacob & Lewis Fox Foundation Scholar. She received a B.A. degree in Economics from Yale University and an M.A. in Business Administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is a member of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals.
“As a graduate of Hartford Public Schools, I am honored and deeply humbled by the opportunity to serve the children of Hartford and their families in this capacity,” said Kim Oliver. “I look forward to working with the other members of the Board to support policies and allocate resources in a way that best serves students and families in Hartford. We all succeed when we ensure that every child in Hartford has access to a high quality education that sets them up for success in college, career, and life.”
MAYOR BRONIN ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT OF DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
HARTFORD, CONN. (Jan. 27, 2017) - Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin today announced that Marilynn Cruz-Aponte will retire from her service as Director of Public Works, effective March 10. Mayor Bronin appointed Ms. Cruz-Aponte as the Director of Public Works upon taking office last year.
“Marilynn’s expertise, commitment, creativity and dedication to the City of Hartford and to the DPW team will be deeply missed, and we wish her and her family the very best. Marilynn has led our Department of Public Works through a challenging time, overseeing a dramatic reduction in the workforce while at the same time making dramatic improvements in morale and performance. She has been a leader on environmental issues, has quarterbacked the overhaul of our snow plowing operation, has implemented new initiatives like the traffic signalization improvement program and the new blue light program, along with many others. Marilynn will be hard to replace, but I am confident that our DPW team will remain strong – in large part thanks to Marilynn’s tremendous work.”
Ms. Cruz-Aponte has been the first Latina to serve as Director of the Department of Public Works in Hartford and one of very few female DPW directors in the nation. Prior to Mayor Bronin’s nomination of Ms. Cruz-Aponte, she served as Deputy Director of Public Works. She has also held public works leadership positions in New Britain over the course of her career, specializing in solid waste, fleet and streets operations planning including policy, procedure and program development, review and implementation. Her earlier career was spent working for nearly ten years as an Environmental Aide to Connecticut Governor William A. O’Neill. She prepared and successfully advocated for the United States’ first mattress recycling law, and she drove the implementation of Hartford’s single-stream recycling program in 2008, which increased recycling by 111% that year and has resulted in waste disposal savings of more the $3.2 million over the past seven years.
“The role and responsibilities of the Director of Public Works requires every ounce of my energy and given my personal obligations, I've made the very difficult decision to take a step back and focus my attention on achieving a better work life balance. I thank Mayor Bronin and the Common Council for the opportunity to lead many noble and hard-working Public Works employees. Over the past year we have faced many challenges head-on and the Department is well prepared to continue its service to the City at a level of excellence," Marilynn Cruz-Aponte said. “It's been an honor to be a member of Mayor Bronin's cabinet and to promote his clear vision for a financially stable and vibrant Capital City.”