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Hartford set to host first small business convention, focusing on emerging entrepreneurs

Duane Wilson of Design Studios stands for a portrait after the city of Hartford announced a full-day conference focused on small business entrepreneurs that will take place of October 26, 2023 at Dunkin’ Park. The event will have workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.
Dave Wurtzel
/
Connecticut Public
Duane Wilson of Design Studios stands for a portrait after the city of Hartford announced a full-day conference focused on small business entrepreneurs that will take place of October 26, 2023 at Dunkin’ Park. The event will have workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities.

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The city of Hartford will host its first small business convention on Thursday, Oct. 26. The event's goal is to provide support and resources to small local businesses and entrepreneurs, focusing on helping underrepresented communities.

Mayor Luke Bronin said the city had invested millions of dollars from the American Rescue Plan into three programs for small businesses. He encouraged all entrepreneurs, regardless of their background and immigration status, to participate.

"We've invested millions of dollars in support for our small businesses — the Hartlift Program, where we've invested close to $10 million,” Bronin said. “The small business investment program, we've invested about $2 million in that program and then another $2 million in the facade improvement grant program. Those facade grants will go out shortly; that's the last of the three programs that we rolled out."

A U.S. Small Business Administration 2022 study showed that women in Connecticut comprised 40.8% of business owners, while Hispanics comprised 9.4% of business owners. Racial minorities owned 12.8% of businesses in the state.

Yvonne Zhao, a director at the Department of Development Services, coordinates the upcoming event. She said that the exhibit is a result of conversations within the community.

"We will have a panel discussion on small business foundation, and then we will have a panel specifically on the state of Connecticut programs that are currently available on accessing capital, and then will have another panel on the city of Hartford on opportunity and challenges of small businesses," Zhao said.

According to the officials, 100 of the 300 total spots are available as of Monday morning.

Kim Hawkins, President & CEO of Hedco, speaks as the city of Hartford announces a full-day conference that will take place of October 26, 2023 at Dunkin’ Park. The event will have workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities addressing the most challenging issues faced by small business entrepreneurs.
Dave Wurtzel
/
Connecticut Public
Kim Hawkins, President & CEO of Hedco, speaks as the city of Hartford announces a full-day conference that will take place of October 26, 2023 at Dunkin’ Park. The event will have workshops, panel discussions, and networking opportunities addressing the most challenging issues faced by small business entrepreneurs.

Now is the perfect time to provide technical assistance, resources, funding, and networking to small businesses, said Kim Hawkins, president and chief executive officer at the Hartford Economic Development Corporation.

Design Studio owner, Duane Wilson thanked the city for offering programs and information for small businesses.

The small business fair will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the YG club at the Dunkin Park stadium. The event will feature workshops and pannell discussions and all entrepreneurs, regardless of their background and immigration status, are encouraged to participate. Officials ask people to register online.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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