Published on December 02, 2021

HARTFORD, CONN (December 2, 2021) – Today, Mayor Luke Bronin and the Hartford Chamber of Commerce announced a newly created "Hart Lift" Program to support the activation of storefronts left vacant during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The $6 million program uses funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and will be available for retail spaces both in downtown and on neighborhood commercial corridors.

Property owners with vacant storefronts are eligible for grants of $50 per square foot, up to a maximum of $150,000. Grants can be used for interior and exterior buildout costs for new businesses opening in new or existing ground floor retail spaces. The grants must be matched 100% by landlord/tenant investments in the downtown and 50% along neighborhood commercial corridors.  The program will be administered on behalf of the City by the Hartford Chamber of Commerce.  

“A lot of commercial property owners have been hit hard the last couple of years, but we've also heard from more and more small businesses and restauranteurs that want to lease space but just need a little extra help to do it, and we're thrilled to have this chance to help make that happen," said Mayor Bronin.  “By providing these funds, we're helping owners of vacant property recover, while at the same time helping new businesses get started in Hartford and bringing new vibrancy and activity to our downtown and neighborhood corridors.  I want to thank our Department of Development Services, as well as Julio, Max and the rest of the Chamber of Commerce team for working together to design and implement this program. And I also want to thank our federal delegation for passing the American Rescue Plan Act to make this Hart Lift program possible."

“As this pandemic continues to create unexpected challenges and impede progress made by this city and our small business community, we must continue to offer support in creative ways,” said Representative Julio Concepcion, Executive Director of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce. “I believe the Hart Lift Program will provide the necessary tools to property owners who have been negatively affected by the pandemic while helping to incentivize a new generation of entrepreneurs to call Hartford home.”

“As the Chair of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce and a business owner, I have personally seen the impact that this pandemic has had on our own small business community,” said Max Kothari, Chair of the Hartford Chamber of Commerce. “I am confident that this program will help spur economic growth in all our neighborhoods and provide much needed resources to property owners and small businesses.”

"Small businesses that have been devastated by this pandemic will receive the critical help they need – and deserve --  as they climb back towards vibrancy,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal. “Hartford continues to find creative ways to help meet the needs of our small businesses and residents – and this is one more example of how the city is using federal American Rescue Plan funds to help revitalize our communities.” 

“COVID-19 has been tough on our local businesses, and these federal dollars will make a big difference in helping downtown Hartford continue to bounce back stronger than ever. I’m proud to have secured funding in the American Rescue Plan that makes this program possible,” said Senator Chris Murphy.

“I applaud Mayor Bronin, Rep. Julio Concepcion, and Max Kothari for this innovative use of American Rescue Plan funding to bring small businesses to Hartford and activate vacant storefronts. This is exactly why we passed the American Rescue Plan, to give local cities and towns the money needed to help their communities recover,” said Rep. John B. Larson.

Property owners are deemed eligible if they were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, are in good standing located in the City of Hartford and have vacant ground-floor retail space.  Special considerations will be given to properties located in major commercial corridors throughout Hartford neighborhoods, Downtown spaces, restaurant spaces, vacant properties adjacent to other vacant properties and property owners leasing their spaces to MWBEs. To learn more about the program, or to fill out an inquiry form, visit www.hartlift.com.

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