June 14 - 21, 2006
By ALEXANDRA ANWEILER, The Hartford News Staff Writer
Upscale residences are rising all over Downtown Hartford, but will they be able to attract the young professionals who work at the area’s major corporations, law firms and other businesses?
A surprisingly positive outlook on Hartford and its future was supplied by several participants at the HYPE Premier Party last week at 960 Main (the former G. Fox Building).
HYPE is the MetroHartford Chamber of Commerce’s latest push to keep young professionals living, working and playing in the capital city. Last week’s event drew approximately 400 young people to wine and dine, meet and greet and generally enjoy what Hartford has to offer.
Many attendees agreed they would like to see more events like the HYPE party in the future. The event gave Hartford’s working 21 to 35-year-olds an outlet for much desired mingling. Guests sampled diverse cuisine from Hartford restaurants, visited booths featuring upcoming cultural attractions and networked with their peers over drinks and music.
The HYPE party was part of the Chamber of Commerce’s campaign to stop talented young people from moving to other parts of the country.
Some HYPE attendees cited the recent and highly publicized rash of shootings in the city and the high cost of living in newly constructed condominiums as deterrents to living in Hartford. But others, like Joe Urso of Design Professionals, Inc., plan to make the move to Hartford and recognize the immense change that the city has undergone in the past decade. “Everywhere you look you see development,” Urso remarked. “Development is the key word.”
While some remain content in seeing improvement, others actively seek ways to boost Hartford’s morale and diversity. Employees from a management company who showcase undiscovered local talent handed out flyers for an upcoming poetry slam at the Comet Lounge. One of the promoters explained, “If there are things to do here, people will come. [We] should perceive [Hartford] as growing and expanding.”
Others suggested additions to the downtown area such as a movie theater, supermarket and more affordable housing and parking.
Hartford has been associated with the stigma that there is nothing to do here, according to one HYPE attendee. The Chamber of Commerce and other organizations are just at the cusp of a successful campaign to erase that reputation.
Several people at the HYPE gathering said they were grateful for the event as it allowed them to socialize and sample what the city has to offer. More events like it in the future may just keep them in the capital city.