The Hartford Chamber of Commerce is highlighting local Hispanic and Latino business owners and community drivers in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. Yanil Terón, Executive Director at the Center for Latino Progress – CPRF spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about her passion for Hartford.

NAN PRICE: Why Hartford?

YANIL TERÓN: Hartford insurance companies, United Technologies Corporation (now Raytheon Technologies Corporation) and General Electric conglomerates, and public school boards have relied on recruiting teachers, engineers, information technology, business administration majors, and other graduates from universities and colleges in Puerto Rico to diversify their professional pools.

In the early 1980s, I became part of the group when I wed a graduate and settled in the Hartford Region from the Island. I’ll never forget the feeling of well-being when I found a vibrant community of Puerto Ricans here. At that moment, Connecticut transformed from the place I resided to the place I call home.

In the last 20 years, I’ve been fortunate to work for and on behalf of mi gente [my people] and the extended families that make Hartford a great city. In 2007, the Center for Latino Progress – CPRF board directors trusted me to lead the Center.

Opened in 1978, the Center is a multiservice agency that focuses on workforce programs and quality of life issues. It advocates for equity, diversity, and inclusion. Since 2011, it offers legal immigration services with the recognition of the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 2015, as a workforce activity, the Center opened the bike focus youth program with a shop. BiCi Co. (Bicicleta y Comunidad) is a community space that sells upcycle bikes everyone can afford, repaired by our trainees. And, in a city where 30% of the households do not own cars, the need for affordable transportation and pedestrian safety is critical. The Center’s Transport Hartford Academy program addresses such needs.

The impact of the Center is in and beyond our barrio. The Center builds social capital by connecting neighborhoods and neighbors and mobilizing adults and youth to be civically engaged and be valuable members of our society. As the city’s largest ethnic group and the second major group in the nation after whites, we are poised to all advance together.

NAN: How do we tell Hartford’s story?

YANIL: Hartford has significant advantages over other midsize cities. Uniquely centered in New England, Hartford has excellent resources, history, and beauty. It many ways, it is a microcosm of New York City with a vibrant and diverse population, mid-size and large corporations, and entrepreneurial energy but better with affordable and distinctive homes, an abundance of green parks, recreational alternatives— and all without the high price and congestion of NYC.

Hartford is home to recognized higher learning institutions, museums, and cultural facilities, all between walking distance or a bike ride away. The city’s reasonably flat topography makes it easy to walk/bike to restaurants, go for a stroll at the edge of the river, play a soccer game, attend a concert/theater, or visit its distinctive ethnic communities. Hartford has something for everyone.

NAN: Where do you see the future of Hartford?

YANIL: Hartford’s future is bright. It’s the quintessential New England city. And it’s being rediscovered by those fleeing the large metropolis and those living behind the suburban sprawl. Along with the newcomers, there is a robust base of committed and dedicated residents. I see a resilient city where its residents are willing to roll up their sleeves, take charge, and effect change. I also see a lot of entrepreneurial spirit, an engine of the economy.

Veo más progreso y mejor calidad de vida para todos.
[I see more progress and a better quality of life for everyone.]