St. Paul Travelers Cos. has a soft spot in its corporate heart for Hartford.
Recently, the firm demonstrated its faith in the city by agreeing to lease 210,000 additional square feet of office space at State House Square and renewing its lease for the 181,000 square feet of space it already occupies. The insurer also plans to take up another 90,000 square feet at the Gold Building on Main Street.
To say that the office space deal will have an impact on the city's economy would be an understatement.
Renovation expenditures alone are estimated at $66.6 million. Moreover, the expansion would so lower the vacancy rate for prime office space in the central business district that rental rates, now averaging $22.75 a square foot, could rise by 5 percent to 10 percent, the first significant boost in several years.
But the biggest benefit is that about 500 jobs will be added to the city's workforce. That translates into more disposable cash being spent in the city, thereby creating additional jobs and commerce for smaller businesses.
St. Paul Travelers followed up its leasing agreement with an announcement that the company's St. Paul Travelers Connecticut Foundation was going to help every Hartford grade-school student meet the city's new mandatory uniform policy by providing each with a white polo shirt embroidered with the words "Hartford Public Schools."
The Hartford Board of Education approved uniforms earlier this year to create a better learning environment and build student self-esteem by eliminating the distraction of fashion competitiveness that is so common in schools.
Uniforms also save parents money and aggravation. Studies show that in districts where students wear uniforms, there are significant reductions in crime and discipline problems. Finally, uniforms prepare students for the world of work, where employers, such as St. Paul Travelers, may require them to follow a dress code.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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