Category Archives: Economic Development

Should Hartford Have a Triple-A Team Instead Of Double-A Rock Cats?

by Categorized: Economic Development, Entertainment/Tourism Date:

My first thought on hearing that the Double-A Rock Cats’ owners agreed to move to a new stadium in Hartford was, why isn’t Triple-A the main goal?

This was the dream of the late Mayor Mike Peters, famously, and on the surface it seems to make the most sense.  Central Connecticut is not a viable major-league region in any of the four big American sports — sorry, Whalers fan club — but its population, wealth, location, history and aspirations place metro Hartford perfectly in the Triple-A International League, right below the majors.

Ranked by population, metro Hartford — comprising Hartford, Tolland and Middlesex counties — is larger than all but 13 of the 28 Triple-A markets that do not also have a major league franchise.  And ranked by economic size, or share of gross domestic product, this region is larger than all but 10 of those 28 markets.

Click here for a database of all minor league baseball teams.

And yet, there’s been barely a mention of Triple-A in all the talk about this deal. The $60 million outlay would give the capital city one of the finer double-A stadiums, with 6,600 seats and room for 9,000 fans in all, including outfield berms, luxury boxes and cafe seating. It would be a bit small by triple-A standards, which tend to hold at least 10,000 people.

In double-A, metro Hartford — which includes New Britain under the federal designation of metropolitan statistical areas — is one of the largest markets.  Among the 28 double-A locations that are not also in a major league franchise market, metro Hartford ranks fourth in population and second in economic size, after San Antonio, which leads in both categories.

The February report by the city of Hartford’s consulting firm, Brailsford & Dunlavey, defines double-A markets as a half-hour drive from the stadium. In that ranking, Hartford compares well with a list of double-A markets, but not at the very top because teams such as the Trenton Thunder and Bowie Baysox include much of Philadelphia and Baltimore, respectively, in their half-hour-drive radius.

But if the capital city were to build a stadium, why shouldn’t it consider paying a bit more for a triple-A-ready palace? That would keep alive the hope of  luring, say, the Las Vegas 51’s, who might like to be much closer to their New York Mets major league affiliate.

As it turns out, double-A might just suit Hartford perfectly because of the economics of the capital region and the way minor league baseball has evolved. Triple-A could be great but there’s no compelling need to sweat out the difference at higher cost, and higher risk.

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Why Metro Hartford Tops “American Dream Cities” List

by Categorized: Economic Development, Economy Date:

Metro Hartford often fares well in surveys that measure quality of life, but this one is a real surprise. The capital region came out No. 1 in the newly released “American Dream Cities 2013″ ranking of the largest U.S. metro areas, by Xavier University in Cincinnati and an Ohio marketing firm.

Metro Hartford is not just on top — it’s far and away ahead of the No. 2 metro, Jacksonville.

How can this be? Despite rosy predictions by a national real estate firm, the Hartford area housing market remains ho-hum. Job growth throughout the state was subpar last year, income gains have been spotty, the core city has an ex-mayor fighting a jail term and the governor is facing a tough battle after raising taxes three years ago.

We might think this is another of the many idiotic lists based on nothing that pollute the webosphere, but no, it’s based on scientific polling of random populations.

“The folks that live there feel really good about the lives they have,” said Greg Smith, a Xavier professor of information systems and director of the American Dream survey.

Okay then. It’s a broad look at social, personal and civic measures, not just economic. And it’s about how people feel, not just how well they’re doing by measurable standards such as income or home values.

Far from just owning a home and holding a middle-class job, the “American dream,” Smith said, “is all these things from having freedoms to having economic prosperity to having a clean physical environment and on and on.”

American-Dream-Cities-Report-2013-2In a series of monthly national surveys of about 1,000 people responding to 139 statements, Hartford came out on top in several sub-categories including “economic conditions,” “diversity,” “freedom of expression,” “support of friends,” “fruits of my labor,” “leisure activities” and “social status.”

And we aced my own personal favorite, “support of someone special.”

It’s a good thing that having a dysfunctional core city didn’t matter.

The ranking calls itself a measure of cities, but it’s not that at all. It looked at the 52 metro areas with at least 1 million people; Metro Hartford, with 1.2 million residents in 2012, the latest year with available Census data, is the nation’s 46th largest metro.

Here’s the ranking of the top seven and the bottom six in the American Dream ranking, produced by Xavier and the Burghard Group, a “place-branding” firm in Ohio. Index values are shown for each.

BEST:

  • Hartford, 111
  • Jacksonville, 107
  • Riverside-San Bernardino, Cal., 106
  • Miami-Fort. Lauderdale, 106
  • Rochester, N.Y., 105
  • Columbus, Ohio, 105
  • Raleigh, N.C., 105

WORST:

  • Grand Rapids, Mich., 95
  • Pittsburgh, 94
  • Nashville, Tenn., 93
  • Sacramento, Cal., 93
  • Oklahoma City, 90
  • Birmingham, Ala., 90

The biggest metro areas tended to be in the middle of the pack. The list is a bit of a head-scratcher not because Hartford came out on top, but because places such as Oklahoma City and Pittsburgh have seen a renaissance in recent years that often shows up on quality-of-life surveys.

And Texas is the land of job and population growth. Before the survey, Smith said, “I’m thinking to myself, of course Texas is going to win.”

But growth is not the same as satisfaction, and it’s possible that some central cities are doing well while the metro areas around them are not.  Metro Hartford has a core city of just 10 percent of its population, so the city matters less in metro rankings than cities elsewhere.

Metro Hartford fared very well in how people feel about their jobs and their colleagues, but not so well in how they feel about their pay and benefits, and as we’d expect in a slow-growth state, not so well in job mobility.

Regardless, we will take the good with the bad. The report opens with a large photo of downtown Hartford in the winter when the Hartford 21 apartment tower was under construction, under the title, “American Dream Cities 2013.”

The obvious conclusion is that if metro Hartford is to upgrade its professional baseball franchise and make it work as a diamond asset for the region, it needs to do so as a region.

ESPN’s New $175M Studio: ‘Unlike Anything On Sports TV’

by Categorized: Economic Development, Entertainment/Tourism Date:

BRISTOL — Once you get past Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other politicians talking about jobs, and you’ve heard ESPN President John Skipper talk about how the network’s new Digital Center 2 brings amazing technology and people together, listen to Hannah Storm describe what the production palace will mean for viewers.

The longtime anchor and celebrity face of ESPN grows animated, striding out toward the main SportsCenter desk — where a huge video display built right into the floor shines light upward, toward a camera on a circular ceiling track.

Malloy and Skipper, center, cut a fiberoptic cable at ESPN's Digital Center 2. Cloe Poisson/The Hartford Courant

Malloy and Skipper, center, cut a fiberoptic cable at ESPN’s Digital Center 2.
Cloe Poisson/The Hartford Courant

Sure, it will be more fun and more efficient for ESPN’s personalities to broadcast from the $175 million building, with 6 million feet of fiberoptic cable, 25,000 square feet of studio space and a huge glass wall that looks out onto a glass “cube” with graphic artists sending images onto the screens.

But, I ask Storm, will the viewers see much of a change?

“It’s vastly different,” Storm said, “It will be a significant change, unlike anything on sports TV.”

Digital Center 2 opened Monday with a ceremonial fiberoptic cable cutting and a brief, live “sports report” from the anchor desk by Malloy and Skipper. “Welcome to SportsCenter from Olliewood,” Skipper announced from the set, repeating the play on UConn Coach Kevin Ollie’s name that ESPN used in the Final Four.

ESPN DC2 BustleIn a cut-rate bargain for Connecticut taxpayers, ESPN is expected to collect $10 million in tax credits. That’s instead of the $20-plus million package of grants, tax abatements and a large loan, much of it forgivable, that was announced on this spot nearly three years ago when Malloy made ESPN one of the state’s “First Five” companies with major development incentive money.

The employee level, more than 4,000, up from 3,872 three years ago, has risen less than some anticipated — in part due to a layoff of about 125 people locally last year. But that’s not why the terms changed. Lawyers on both sides simply came up with a different package from the one Malloy announced in 2011, several sources said.

The place goes live for real sometime in late June, producing ESPN’s flagship show a staggering 18 hours a day, with 42 anchors, and the NFL shows. Overseeing the operation is Rob King, the senior vice president for SportsCenter and News, formerly chief of the vast online network — and like Storm, he’s focused on what the building will look like in the 96 million homes that pay upwards of $6 a month for the ESPN.

Lobby of the new Digital center 2 at ESPN Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Lobby of the new Digital center 2 at ESPN
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

“We always felt that the smaller set kept us sitting behind the desk,” King said. “The point really is to give people more of a sense of who we are.”

Highlights of the studio include two giant vertical video screens, dynamic backdrops for studio anchors, reporters and guests.  Those are two of several stations where on-air talent can move around. But, King said, the idea isn’t more complexity, it’s more boldness.

“We want to make sure that we’re not letting the screen dissolve into a lot of little type,” King said. “What happens on these screens is complementary to what the anchors are doing.”

It’s twice as big as the old Digital Center building, which will remain in use for several shows. And the look ties together with the ESPN app and web site.

“I’m told it’s future-proofed,” Skipper crows, as the building has room for technology not yet invented.

A control room inside Digital Center 2. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

A control room inside Digital Center 2.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

What about ESPN’s business? It’s a $12 billion-a-year juggernaut that grew massively with cable TV contracts and mass viewership built around ESPN’s multi-faceted role as chronicler, original content producer and live sports programmer. I asked Skipper, can that keep growing as profitably as it has?

“It’s certainly more difficult to future-proof a business than a building,” Skipper said. But he added, “We are confident in our ability to grow.”

The challenges are tough. We saw on Friday how World Wrestling Entertainment, another Connecticut sports operation, could suffer on Wall Street with a 43 percent, one-day collapse after investors perceived a new contract and online strategy to be less than ideal. And with Comcast, which already owns Stamford-based NBC Sports, hoping to add to its nationwide cable franchise with the acquisition of Time Warner Cable, ESPN’s bargaining position might not remain as strong as it’s been.

A camera with John Skipper's introduction on the scroll; at right is a huge vertical video backdrop. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

A camera with John Skipper’s introduction on the scroll; at right is a huge vertical video backdrop.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Skipper’s confidence derives from the network’s long-term cable TV contracts, its broadcasting rights for the NFL and other leagues, its remarkable cross-platform coordination and what he called a great “head start” as the dominant sports media outlet.

Malloy, for his part, holds a more short-term and less dominant position as he seeks re-election against Republicans who blast his economic development strategy as jobs-for-money.

ESPN, NBC Sports, WWE, Cigna, United Technologies and many other big employers have expanded in Connecticut after inking multi-million-dollar deals, taking advantage of the state’s lucrative film and digital production tax credits, or both.

The overall jobs picture is improving and is certainly stronger than when Malloy took office at the start of 2011, but the progress remains mixed, with unemployment dropping below 7 percent while job-creation stays slow.

Malloy, claiming ESPN as an outright victory as he spoke with reporters inside the new studio, blamed much of the stagnant growth on Republicans, who held the governor’s seat from 1995 until 2011. “We became the seventh-oldest state in the nation. I didn’t do that, they did that,” Malloy said. “We’ve turned that around.”

Each deal is different but with ESPN adding studio space in Los Angeles and launching its SEC Network in Charlotte, its expansion here was not a given and the $10 million in tax credits is a rounding error compared with what the company brings.

Just after ESPN anchor Sara Walsh talked about how happy she’ll be to work in Digital Center 2 under a new contract, Malloy took the podium and said to Skipper, “If my contract doesn’t get renewed, maybe I can swing a job here.”

Malloy To Mark Benefit Corporations Measure As reSET Celebrates

by Categorized: Economic Development, Government, Politics Date:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy indicated he’ll commemorate the state’s new legislation that enables business owners to incorporate as “Type B” benefit corporations, set up for a broader social benefits beyond just profits for owners.

The event, not yet scheduled, won’t be a bill-signing ceremony since the measure was not a separate bill, but was instead included in the 300-plus-page budget implementation bill adopted at the tail end of the legislative session May 7.

Kate Emery, left, the founder of reSET, and celebrate at City Steam in downtown Hartford after the measure creating benefit corporations passed at the Capitol.  Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Kate Emery, left the founder of reSET, and Ojala Naeem, incubator and IT manager for reSET, celebrate at City Steam in downtown Hartford after the measure creating benefit corporations passed at the Capitol.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Members of the Social Enterprise Trust, a Hartford group known as reSET, gathered at City Steam in Hartford on May 9 to celebrate the measure passing.  The group had lobbied for the bill over the last three years at the Capitol, and had secured support from Malloy, who walked to the reSET office and incubator on Pratt Street in downtown Hartford early this year to back it.

The new rules won’t require any firm to do anything differently, but those businesses that establish themselves as benefit corporations, or social enterprises, will have to declare what their social benefit is, and report on it. And in Connecticut, unlike any other state that has a similar law, the registration is virtually impossible to revoke.

That provision could attract socially-minded start-ups to Connecticut, reSET founder Kate Emery and other advocates said.

Hartford Marathon Has Title Sponsor; New Haven Open Close

by Categorized: Economic Development, Entertainment/Tourism Date:

NOTE: An earlier version of the post said the New Haven Open would announce a title sponsor Thursday.

Seven months after ING sponsored its last Hartford Marathon, the race has lined up another corporate title sponsor, to be revealed Wednesday.

20th Running of the Hartford MarathonAnd the New Haven Open tennis tournament, which was bought last year by the state, is nearing a decision on its own title sponsor with negotiations underway, sources said. The list was recently narrowed from three companies, which included two from the Hartford area, a source said.

The Hartford Marathon Foundation is set to announce the sponsor for October’s race at a press conference in downtown Hartford, and the identity of the company has been a closely guarded secret.

This much we know: The sponsor isn’t Cigna, which seemed to be an obvious choice.  The company moved its headquarters from Philadelphia to Bloomfield two years ago; its CEO, David Cordani, is himself a triathlon competitor; the company is in the health care industry; and Cigna already sponsors the Walt Disney World Marathon in Orlando.

The health insurer is one of the largest local companies that has never sponsored the race. ING had the title for six years but spun off its U.S. operations, creating a new company, Voya Financial. United Technologies Corp. had its name on the race for several years and before that, Aetna was the founding nameplate for the race.

Industry sources say the sponsorship costs in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the company being named Wednesday will also be prepared to send hundreds of volunteers, as ING, UTC and Aetna did.

Beth Shluger, the Hartford Marathon Foundation chief, said of the secret title sponsor, “It’s a company that’s very concerned with every single person in Connecticut and in other places. …They are very community minded.”

Hmmm, so it could be a bank, and Northeast Utilities would make a lot of sense. We’ll just have to wait and see.

It was not automatic that the marathon would attract a banner sponsor. In Miami, where ING ended its run in February, 2013, this year’s race went off with no corporate branding.

Shluger said she’s been generally choosy over the years, turning away such names as Red Bull, which sells a product the marathon board does not want to endorse.

“The one thing we have here is, there are a lot of great companies in our area,” Shluger said. “It speaks well of our Connecticut economy, doesn’t it, that we’ve got two big events and both are in position to name title sponsors.”

 

 

Half of Connecticut Residents Want To Leave, But Why?

by Categorized: Economic Development, Economy Date:

There’s a lot of hand-wringing in the Land of Steady Habits over a new Gallup poll that shows just under half of Connecticut residents — 49 percent — would flee their home state if they could.

We come in at No. 2, barely behind Illinois, where exactly half the population dreams of departing.  Lowest on the list are Maine, Montana and Hawaii, where less than a quarter of residents say they’d head for the borders if they could.

Gallup: States Where The Most Residents Would Leave If They Could (%)

  • Illinois 50
  • Connecticut 49
  • Maryland  47
  • Nevada  43
  • Rhode Island 42

Gallup: States Where The Fewest Residents Would Leave If They Could (%)

  • Montana  23
  • Hawaii  23
  • Maine  23
  • Oregon 24
  • New Hampshire  24

The tax-conscious business lobby would have us believe our problem is largely about high levies, regulations and road congestion.  Yes, of course, Connecticut has some of the highest costs, in fact we rank No. 6 overall in cost of living according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

But is that really why 49 percent of people want to leave?  Nope. Hawaii is the most expensive state by far. What we have here is a much more complex picture, a conundrum with a contradiction and a story that might not be so bad for Connecticut.

Thousands of people who head for the exit are hauling their young, professional, mobile butts to Brooklyn, Manhattan, Boston, DC, Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta — metro areas that are not known for their low cost, and except for Atlanta, are among the most expensive places to exist on the planet.

Having been here for a lot of years, I certainly recall a time when people left for the Carolinas and other low-cost destinations, especially in times when jobs were shrinking. But lately I can hardly think of anyone who left Connecticut other than to stake out a big metro — and that includes several who are well into middle age.

So from that viewpoint it looks like Connecticut’s problem is our lack of urban vibrancy — a major metro area that doesn’t have to fork over $100 million in taxpayer graft to attract apartment dwellers, concert venues and university campuses.

In fact, when we look at the actual numbers of people uprooting from Connecticut to other states, New York is by far the biggest destination. And get this news bulletin: They’re not moving to low-cost Utica or Syracuse.

Click here for a fabulous interactive graphic by Vizynary.com showing migration patterns from every state.

Thus the conundrum. Depending on who they are, people want to flee Connecticut because costs are too high; because urban energy and vibrancy, which usually means higher cost, is too low; because the job they want is elsewhere; because it’s too cold; or because they’re miserable wherever they live. And we can’t do anything for the cold and miserable.

So the issue comes down to value. It’s neither about cost nor urban vibrancy, but rather, how you feel about what you’re getting back in exchange for your $1,800-a-month rent or mortgage payment, your half-hour commute, your 45-hours a week of toil, your hard-earned engineering degree.

States are a poor measure if we want to gauge lifestyle choices. Massachusetts, for example, is 2 percent less expensive than Connecticut according to the federal government measure. But metro Boston, where more people want to be, is more expensive than metro Hartford or New Haven. Likewise, in Illinois, where the highest percentage of people want out, are they eager to abandon Chicago or corn country? Maybe they should just switch places for half of each year.

Connecticut’s problem is this: If you’re willing to live in a 700-square-foot apartment for 40 percent of your income and travel 45 minutes to a job where there are lots of people like you with hip glasses and the whole world is at your sidewalk — there are better places to be than here.

And if you’re willing to live in a region with no great urban centers nearby, where the political and cultural climate is far more conservative but you can buy a big house with a greener lawn or maybe a few acres of woods — there are better places to be than here.

As for the number who told Gallup they are at least somewhat likely to actually pack out in the next 12 months, Connecticut is closer to the middle of the pack — 16 percent, compared with a national average of 14 percent, well within the margin of error.

And as for the actual number of folks who move out compared with the number moving in, Connecticut’s departure rate is far smaller than that of Illinois and New York. It was also a smaller departure rate than Minnesota had in 2012, and that state had only 25 percent who wanted out in the Gallup poll.

Cutting through the clutter of numbers, the Gallup poll measured this, when it comes to Connecticut: A majority don’t think it’s perfect. But for an even larger majority, it could still be very good.

Cities Must ‘Get Their Act Together,’ Malloy Says

by Categorized: Economic Development, Politics, Public finance Date:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, standing in front of a bank of Rentschler Field upper-level windows overlooking Hartford and East Hartford, recounted his achievements to a roomful of local and regional economic development officials Wednesday — but added a blunt twist.

Malloy at Rentschler Field Wednesday Dan Haar/the Hartford Courant April 23, 2014

Malloy at Rentschler Field Wednesday
Dan Haar/the Hartford Courant April 23, 2014

When someone asked the governor about struggling cities, he didn’t just cite all the money his administration has spent, and will spend.

“Cities have to get their act together,” said Malloy, who’s seeking re-election this year. “I did this for 14 years.”

Malloy had a somewhat easier time of it as Stamford’s mayor, since that city, alone among the Big 5 of Bridgeport, Stamford, Hartford, New Haven and Waterbury, has a vast, stable base of rich and upper-middle-class neighborhoods, not to mention Wall Street firms.

But as governor, even his critics must admit he’s had some success bringing a bit of efficiency to entrenched agencies.

“We have more than 1,000 fewer people working in state government than the day I came in,” Malloy told the gathering, organized by the state Department of Economic and Community Development. “But some of this has to be done at the local level.”

Was he suggesting staff cuts at cities and towns? No, at least not right away. Rather, he’s calling on them to find ways to be more efficient through technology and management — and therefore less dependent on the state and able to operate with fewer people.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra proposed a budget this week with deep cuts and perhaps layoffs. Without referring to that, Malloy said, “I can look you in the eye and say I am not responsible for a single layoff at a municipality,” as state aid to cities and towns has remained stable.

 

Bagging Earth Day With The Hartford Marathon

by Categorized: Commerce, Economic Development Date:

Among the gazillion Earth Day releases that crossed my inbox Tuesday, an offer from the Hartford Marathon Foundation stood out for its advance planning and sentiment.

HMF bagLast October, the marathon folks didn’t throw out all those plastic banners that lined the start and finish in and around Bushnell Park and the state Capitol — the end of the line for ING’s lead sponsorship.  On Tuesday, they rolled out a line of bags and wallets made of those very banners in blue, orange, black, white and other colors.

They know runners like to own race-related stuff — though in this case, it isn’t free with a registration. It’s sold at www.shophartfordmarathon.com,  prices ranging from $15 for an 8-inch “zippered caddy” to $38 for a 14-inch “messenger bag.”

No word on whether the bags were sewn by local runners.

State Offers $6.5M To Corporate Relocation Firm To Stay — And Grow

by Categorized: Economic Development, Real Estate Date:

No one knows how to move out of state like the folks at Cartus Corp., a Danbury company that offers relocation services such as home-buying and rentals to corporations.

So the state stepped in with a $6.5 million forgivable loan at 2 percent interest after Cartus, a longtime Connecticut presence, thought hard about moving to Texas or New York.  Cartus will keep the whole $6.5 million if it maintains its current local staff of 1,275 and adds at least 200 more people in the next five years.

Cartus will also invest $15.4 million in a facilities upgrade, as part of its state-aided expansion. And if the company keeps its staff intact for five years and doesn’t add more people, it will be allowed to keep $1.95 million of the loan principal.

All in all it’s a good deal for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the state taxpayers, a cost of about $32,000 per new job if Cartus adds 200, or $4,400 for each job added or retained if we count 1,475 present and future jobs.

The deal is not part of Malloy’s “First Five” program, also called “Next Five,” because the total invested by Cartus is less than the threshold for that program. But each deal is custom-designed anyway.

And for each deal, we ask, would the company have really left? That’s the question we can never answer. Cartus and its parent company, Realogy Holdings Corp., were part of the old Cendant Corp., which broke up a few years ago. Realogy, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, also owns Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, CENTURY 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA, Sotheby’s International and other real estate businesses.

“Cartus has been proud to call Connecticut home for nearly 60 years, and we are committed to growing our operations here,” said Kevin Kelleher, the Cartus CEO “This new investment will position the company for future success.”

Now that Cartus is staying, we’ll have a home run if Malloy and his economic development commissioner, Catherine Smith, can get Cartus to move more people into Connecticut than out.

 

 

 

UConn Parade Raises, Spends $90K; How Much Economic Benefit?

by Categorized: Economic Development, Economy, Entertainment/Tourism Date:

The final tally is in for Sunday’s UConn victory parade in downtown Hartford: Exactly $90,000 raised from 23 corporate sponsors.

And that’s exactly how much the Hartford Downtown Improvement District, the organizing group, will spend, said Mike Zaleski, executive director. As of midday Monday the bills totaled $86,500.

The most important economic effect of the UConn celebration: Cheerleading for Hartford. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

The most important economic effect of the UConn celebration: Cheerleading for Hartford.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

The figure is up from $50,000 that Zaleski has set last Wednesday as a minimum needed to mount the celebration, and it’s up from the $70,000 that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced as the total early Friday morning.

The added dough enabled the organizers to rent a 20-foot video screen for the rally at the north steps of the state Capitol — for $13,475, delivered from a firm in Philadelphia.

Seems like a lot in an age when large-screen TV’s are dropping in price.  But I was at the event with friends, and one said, “This has a big-time feel.”

And that’s the economic point. Forget the money the 200,000 visitors to the Capital City did or did not spend. That’s small stuff. What makes an economy move is an improvement in how people feel about a region.

This event, one of the few mass-happenings that was truly racially integrated, accomplished that, though it can’t be measured. And it was problem-free except for one guy who fell out of a tree in front of the Hartford Public Library.

Aside from the obvious double championship, part of what made up the “feel” of the parade was a larger event, with 51 marching and rolling units, up from 33 last year, and a shorter route than in the past.

Metro Hartford is an $80 billion-a-year ecosystem of commerce. We don’t have a lot of growth but we do have a lot of wealth.  As we’ve learned, it’s not easy to convert that wealth into energy and positive feelings by the wide population.

In other words: Just as money doesn’t buy happiness, it doesn’t buy the sorts of good feelings that can lead to decisions by people and companies to spend in a region. That takes things like quickly organized parades that have a “big-time feel.”

Here’s the list of corporate sponsors who donated cash. It doesn’t include “in-kind” sponsors such as the Peter Pan bus company.

  • Webster Bank
  • Mohegan Sun
  • Cigna
  • The Travelers Companies, Inc.
  • The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
  • Northeast Utilities
  • United Technologies Corporation
  • AT&T
  • Virtus Investment Partners
  • The Connecticut Buick and GMC Dealers
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
  • Coca-Cola
  • Bank of America
  • The Hartford Financial Services Group
  • Aetna
  • SNY
  • Capital Region Development Authority
  • XL Center
  • CBS Radio
  • Rogo Distributors
  • Peel Liqueur
  • Robinson & Cole
  • Foxwoods Resort Casino