January 14, 2019
Other Voices

Hartford’s tech sector is growing

Sarah Man

The city of Hartford could be on the edge of a tech-sector boom as a recent analysis by commercial real estate advisor CBRE showed it was the seventh-fastest growing tech market in the country in 2018.

Although the city still is far down the list of tech-friendly destinations overall, it has significant momentum, and could be just the place for expanding companies that will be creating new tech jobs.

The emergence of Hartford as a high-tech destination can easily mean it could become home to a host of companies and organizations that are reliant on high-tech capabilities, which could mean an increase in opportunities for workers and investors alike.

According to a 2017 survey, Connecticut is home to more than 4,000 manufacturing firms ranging from aerospace to chemicals, computer and electronic products to machinery and plastics. These firms generate approximately $13.5 billion in products produced annually. In terms of economic activity, these manufacturing firms generate an additional $1.35 of economic activity for every $1 spent in manufacturing

Much has been written about the downturn in Connecticut's manufacturing sector, but this upswelling of technology firms and jobs could be just the boost that is needed to reverse decades of financial setbacks.

With a booming economy, workers with a background in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — are in high demand, and there are not necessarily enough workers to fill available jobs. It was estimated that during 2018, the state had 116,000 such openings.

And even though Hartford places only 37th out of 50 total markets nationally in terms of its tech-sector concentration, its "momentum gain" is seen as a strong indication that the booming national economy may be helping an economic resurgence throughout Connecticut.

Hartford also has a proverbial ace up its sleeve: a double-digit office vacancy rate, which may provide "move-in" readiness for firms that are relocating, yet won't generate a sudden spike in rents. That is a major plus and it can also serve as a catalyst for spin-off sectors such as housing and entertainment.

And if you're skeptical about data saying Hartford is a growing tech sector, just take a look at the empirical evidence. There is significant factual information that supports an optimistic outlook.

For example, Infosys recently unveiled its regional tech and innovation hub in Hartford and a new advanced manufacturing center is opening downtown. There are also two new business accelerators in the city focused on incubating insurance and advanced manufacturing technology companies.

Individually, they may not make a trend, but taken together there certainly is movement in Hartford and the Nutmeg State. And viewed from any angle, that is a good thing.

Sarah Man is a financial advisor with the Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in CT.

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