Many Getting A Slice Of Adriaen's Pie

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Small businesses win more than one in three contracts
By Anthony Cronin, New London Day
Published on 11/12/2004

Hartford –– More than a third of the contracts awarded for the Connecticut Convention Center being built here have gone to small businesses, including minority and female-owned firms, convention officials said Thursday.

The convention center, which is being developed by the Waterford Group and will be managed by its Waterford Management subsidiary, has awarded about $171 million in contracts so far, and nearly 35 percent of that amount, or $59.2 million, has gone to small business firms, said Katie Blint, the center’s communications director.

Of that amount, $45.1 million has been awarded to minority and women-owned firms, she said. Contracts for the small business work include fire protection equipment, iron and steel work, glass installation and a variety of plumbing, heating and air conditioning supplies.

The $230 million convention center, which is under construction, is part of the $771 million Adriaen’s Landing project in downtown Hartford that will include a Marriott highrise hotel, residential and entertainment complexes and a science and exploration center. The Waterford Group, headed by Waterford-based developer Len Wolman, is serving as the project’s master developer.

Once completed, the 409-room Marriott Downtown Hartford hotel will be owned by the Waterford Group and managed by its Waterford Hotel Group subsidiary.

The 540,000-square-foot convention center, which features a 10-story atrium, will be the largest convention space between New York and Boston. Both the convention center and the 22-story hotel are expected to open next summer. Construction has not yet started on the science center and the residential and entertainment portions of the project.

Adriaen’s Landing is named for Adriaen Block, the Dutch navigator who discovered the Connecticut River. The project, which began in 2000, sits on the eastern edge of Hartford’s high-rise downtown, next to Interstate 91 and overlooking the Connecticut River.

Meg Yetishefsky, director of the small and minority business program for the state’s Department of Administrative Services, welcomed the strong showing by both minority-owned and small business firms working on the project.

State officials have said that improving the state’s economy through small-business development is a major part of the state’s ongoing Small Business Initiative.

“The project is a good example of how the integration of small (and) minority businesses can be successfully achieved,” said Yetishefsky. “The convention center is doing a great job,” she said.

Connecticut officials have mandated that 25 percent of contracts awarded on state projects must go to small business as well as minority- and women-owned firms. A majority of the financing for the massive Adriaen’s Landing downtown revitalization project is from state funds.

In addition to the awarding of contracts to small businesses and minority-owned businesses, convention center officials said that more than $11 million in contracts have been awarded to Hartford-based small businesses.

Patrick Delany, who is a purchasing agent for the Hunt-Gilbane construction firms that are the joint contractors on the project, said both construction firms recognize that small and minority-owned businesses are an integral part of such construction projects. “The (state’s) set-aside program (for such contractors) really helps to identify and reach out to those businesses,” he said.