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Hartford business community moving forward with 'momentum' amid COVID-19 pandemic

More than 100 business leaders met for the first time in 18 months on Tuesday to discuss the industry's future.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Each year, MetroHartford Alliance creates a space for hundreds of business leaders to get together and meet with the governor. It's a way for them to network, review what the fiscal year looks like, and plan ahead for the future.

On Tuesday, more than 150 business leaders met up at Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford to hear from Gov. Ned Lamont.

After a difficult year, the president and CEO of MetroHartford Alliance used one word to describe what Connecticut business leaders are feeling right now: momentum. 

"It’s a time for us to try to take a small step to normalcy we need our downtown corridor to thrive," said David Griggs, President and CEO of MetroHartford Alliance.

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This is the first time the alliance gathered in person with their business partners in 18 months. Meeting in person was important to them, as they're all hoping to turn a corner now. 

"What we learned as a business community is you can run your business and keep it going remotely. But what we lose is mentorship for younger employees, you lose collaboration a new idea generation," said John Ciulla, Chairman, president and Chief Executive Officer of Webster Bank. 

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Ciulla said the future of banking in Connecticut looks brighter than it did in the last year, especially since his company is on track to the largest independent banking organization in the state

"M&T buying People’s Bank, and we’re merging with Sterling Bank (to) double our size basically. Both of those deals should close in the fourth quarter," Ciulla said.

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The event is an opportunity for people like Ciulla to network, but it's also an opportunity for the governor to ask the business community for their take on things. His number one question for them Tuesday was, how can the state get more people back to work?

"All of which I think is about giving kids an opportunity and allowing mom and dad to get back to work and yet we still have 70,000 jobs we can’t fill," Lamont said.

The governor said he is urging companies to continue to send messages about safety to their employees, showing them that being at work is the best place they can be.

"This is a small step to welcoming our businesses back and to remind them of what a great place Hartford is," Griggs said.

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jleblanc@fox61.com Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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