Traveler’s Championship 2018.
David Griggs is President and CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance, the Hartford region’s business and economic development organization. Prior to the Alliance, Mr. Griggs worked for more than seven years at the Greater Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) Regional Economic Development Partnership, where he served as Vice President, Business Investment and Research and Vice President, Business Investment. Mr. Griggs also served eight years with Buffalo Niagara Enterprise (Buffalo, NY), the last four as Business Development Director.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
When I decided to make the move from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Hartford, it was a personal and professional decision. For my family, it was personal. A place to live and become entrenched in this community, a place to grow up and attend school for my kids and an opportunity to meet new people and create new memories as a family. So when I wake up, I want to work with the businesses and residents here to ensure this region is a viable place to do business and raise a family while enjoying a quality of life that is better than anywhere else in the world. Collaborating with our partners to highlight these assets and not keep Hartford the best kept secret is what drives me each day.
What sparked the rejuvenation of Hartford?
It’s about playing to the strengths that have existed for years. Hartford should be a global brand and reflect the fact that we are the Insurance Capital of the World, offer a proud tradition of manufacturing that is innovative and cutting-edge in technology, and an aerospace industry that can be felt not only locally but around the globe. It’s also important that we have a strong urban core that supports the region. We have more people living downtown, a minor league ballpark voted best in the country, eclectic restaurants, top hotels, parks and recreation and arts and culture. I am seeing more and more people in Hartford after 5 p.m. To me, that screams “renaissance.”
Many communities went through a major downslide following The Great Recession from ’07 thru ’09 — what lessons did Hartford learn?
I was not here during that time, but Hartford was not unique in the challenges faced by cities across the country – budget deficits, infrastructure issues, rising tax rates. I think one of the reasons Hartford is seeing growth today is because we have a dedicated community that is willing to collaborate and ensure we remain an economically viable place to do business. So the lessons learned? Play to our strengths, highlight our assets, invest in transportation and other development projects, and celebrate the successes of the region.
How important a role does The Traveler’s golf tournament play?
In addition to the tremendous amount of money the tournament gives back to charities in this community, the Travelers Championship is the ideal venue to highlight this region. First, it becomes the center of the golf universe for the week with some of the best golfers in the world and was voted last year as a top tournament by players on the PGA Tour whom have really taken to the course and all of the amenities for their families. Beyond the actual golf, it attracts thousands of people from the state and beyond who eat at our restaurants, stay at out hotels and visit other attractions in the area, pumping money into our economy. This is an opportunity for us to showcase our region, and to show people all that we have to offer not just during the tournament, but throughout the year.
Creating identify is an important element for any community — since Hartford is located roughly equidistant from both Boston and New York City — what kind of 21st century identify is being created now?
It’s like being in the middle seat on an airplane. Hartford has been that middle seat between Boston and New York, but it’s our time to get our elbows out and claim the arm rest so these markets and others realize all that we have to offer: top businesses, sports and recreation, arts and culture, tourism and hospitality, improved transportation systems including Bradley International Airport and the new Hartford Rail Line, vibrant cities, top colleges and universities. We’ll continue maximizing our close proximity to Boston and New York to increase business opportunities.
For those coming to the metro Hartford area for the golf tournament — what are the top three non-golf activities they should consider doing?
The number of food options in the Hartford region is quite diverse with authentic cultural offerings from around the world. To that end, I would encourage guests to explore our restaurants and experience the diversity of Hartford. Another option is the Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest continually operating public art museum in America with a great history all of its own, or a Hartford Yard Goats baseball game. One last thing I might encourage our visitors to do would be to get out and experience nature. The Hartford region is blessed with a huge variety of natural settings from the shore of the Long Island Sound and Hartford’s riverfront to the mountains along the Metacomet Trail.
When you attend the golf event — what’s the hole you enjoy watch being played the most?
I tend to prefer hole 14. It’s the middle of the back 9 and it’s often when the champions start to distinguish themselves from the field. This is a hole that people often overlook, maybe watching their favorite player before moving on to 15. But I have seen the nerves start to take over a bit at 14, and the strategy seems to pick up on this hole. If I were to use a business analogy, I think it would be risky waiting until the last hole to close a deal. You keep pace for the first 9 holes, then start to really build that momentum in the second half of the course. By 14, that’s when you start making your move and set yourself up for the victory.
Best advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
“You should go talk to her,” from a good friend speaking about a woman who would change my life, my wife, Amy.
What’s the biggest short and long term challenges facing the area?
Short-term would be to recognize the changes that are taking place incrementally and celebrate them; long-term is to create a more sustainable financial future for all of the businesses and residents of Connecticut and the Hartford region.
For more info go to: