BUILDING AN EQUITABLE ECONOMY
August 9, 2023
The Greater New Haven region is currently in a stage of economic growth, as displayed by the success of several growing industries, a bustling airport, our growing arts and culture scene, and the local talent generated by our strong colleges and universities. Just recently, Avelo announced new flights to Puerto Rico from New Haven! While the success of the region is something to celebrate, we must ensure that the economic success of the region is being shared by all of its residents, and that we are building an equitable economy. There are many initiatives underway that will support the equitable economy we seek to see here in New Haven – the Baby Bonds program, the New Haven Tutoring Initiative, the New Haven Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (NHE3) grant program, and many more.
The Chamber has been supportive of the Baby Bonds program which officially launched on July 1st. Through the program, every baby whose birth is covered by HUSKY, is eligible for up to $3,200 to be deposited into the CT Baby Bond Trust. Beginning at age 18, the money can be used to pay for higher education, purchase a home, invest in a business, or save for retirement. The program has the potential to be an avenue for the state to alleviate poverty and support underserved communities. Investments like this are critical to address economic disparities.
The City recently launched the New Haven Tutoring Initiative to tackle the challenges New Haven students face. In 2022, 84% of New Haven third graders read below grade level and 88% were below grade level in Math. This is everyone’s problem to address. The initiative seeks to increase access to academic and enrichment opportunities after school and during the summer to increase literacy and math skills in students. The Chamber is working to recruit tutors for this program, as we commit to supporting students and their education.
In 2023, the $8.7 million NHE3 grant program, led by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, launched. The program plans to award grants to about 750 local businesses over the next five years, with an average of $6,000 each. This type of initiative is what we need to encourage entrepreneurship and support underserved entrepreneurs.
While these efforts are having real impact, there is more work to do. We ask the business community to come together to support and build on these efforts. Our Annual Policy Summit, on September 14th, will focus on “Building an Equitable Economy: Generating Wealth.” The Policy Summit will feature expert speakers and legislators who will have thorough conversations regarding K-12 education, supporting minority entrepreneurs, and generating wealth. You will hear experts share their experiences and ideas on how we can build an equitable economy in New Haven and create a model for the rest of the state to follow. We invite you to participate in this important conversation.