Volunteer teams of economic development staff, innovators, business and community leaders from Hartford, New Haven Stamford and New London/Groton wrapped up the pilot year of the First Impressions Innovate! program this fall. As a part of this partnership with CTNext, UConn Extension faculty Laura Brown and Miriah Kelly provided education and facilitation among communities chosen as “Innovation Places” (New Haven, Hartford, New London-Groton) and Stamford to understand best practices in creating entrepreneurial ecosystems at the community level, establish meaningful evaluation, monitoring and assessment approaches, and engage peer learning between entrepreneurial innovation related programs and communities through the First Impressions Innovate! – a “boots on the ground” audit that allows communities to understand their entrepreneurial assets. UConn’s work impacted over 40 community leaders involved in the program steering committees (city officials, planners and economic developers, representatives of major employers, directors of incubators and accelerators) with an investment of 13.9 million dollars (50 state funds and 50% leveraged at the community level) in place and capacity based programming in the four designated communities. Read the Executive Summaries from each of the communities here.
Below: Debrief luncheons involving the teams from the First Impressions Innovate Communities.