Forty years ago Hartford-based M.Swift & Sons was the “largest supplier of gold leaf in the United States,” according to The Hartford Courant, and about 50 years back the company’s publicist claimed it was the ”world’s largest producer” of both gold leaf and stamping foils. But the tide was about to turn; the factory closed in 2005. Today Community Solutions’s $34-million adaptive reuse project at the Swift Factory site is the first significant investment in the neighborhood since. Expected to open in March 2020, Swift Factory, a food business, health, and jobs hub for North Hartford, as its website describes it, is expected by its developers to bring 150 permanent jobs to a neighborhood with a reported 27.1 percent unemployment and 45.3 percent poverty rate. The construction phase alone has created 225 direct and 295 supplier jobs, with 30 percent of those going to city residents. What was old and blighted is new and shiny again, with this renovation representing a return of jobs to the neighborhood. It fulfills Community Solutions’s mission “to end homelessness and the conditions that create it” by “spurring job growth, economic development, and community health in North Hartford,” as the project’s website states.
For 10 years, Community Solutions has worked to end homelessness. Here’s what we’ve learned.