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UConn Legal Initiative Receives $100,000 Grant
(Released: 12/12/00)

By Alison Thompson, Office of University Communications

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Connecticut Urban Legal Initiative (CULI), which is affiliated with and housed at the University of Connecticut School of Law, has received a $100,000 grant from the federal Economic Development Administration to help revitalize Hartford.

The grant, together with a $5,000 matching grant from the MassMutual Foundation and in-kind contributions from several local public authorities, will help finance CULI's work with a task force devoted to implementing economic development in the greater Hartford area, says William Breetz, CULI's president and executive director, and an adjunct professor of law. The Regional Economic Development Council is made up of leaders of major organizations in the region, labor leaders, executives from local companies and area lawmakers.

"The goal is to support and strengthen the region's economic development through the efforts of a broad, high-level group of local leaders with access to unique federal resources," Breetz says. "The task force is likely to focus on a few strategic projects in the region which will have broad impact throughout the area."

The council, which held its first meeting in August, is the brainchild of U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, who Breetz says encouraged several federal agencies to assist in the effort. CULI, which provides legal services to nonprofit groups engaged in reducing urban blight, will provide staff and support for the group.

According to Breetz, the Hartford initiative is based on a model used by the federal Department of Defense in communities where military base closings have resulted in high unemployment rates and related problems. Breetz is particularly interested in finding consultants who can explain how to adapt the Department of Defense's experiences to Hartford.

Another goal is to make the oft-discussed science and technology park in East Hartford a reality.

"The idea is to find major opportunities to create new, well-paying jobs," Breetz says.

As a result of high-profile layoffs at Pratt & Whitney, the withdrawal of financial services corporations and the demise of Colt's Manufacturing Co., the area's economic engines are changing, Breetz says. The council wants to focus on workplace efforts and employment opportunities in the region.

"We're losing a base of local, committed businesspeople," Breetz says. "How do you build on that?"

Breetz also wants to find ways to work in cooperation with other relevant graduate schools and programs at the University.

"The University of Connecticut is a unique resource in our state which our tax dollars have supported," says Breetz. "If we can successfully build an interdisciplinary alliance of relevant expertise at the University as they relate to building new forms of technology training to benefit the state's employers and employees we will have once again repaid the state's taxpayers for their support of this singular institution."

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