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History

The Entrepreneurial Center & Women's Business Center’s history parallels major social, political, and economic changes experienced by women in Connecticut's small business community. The women who founded the Center in 1985 looked at the rapidly shifting economic forces and listened to the concerns of Hartford College for Women (HCW) students and women around the state. They created a Center focused on meeting the needs women had for business advising and training to plan and implement their entrepreneurial goals.

The Center has remained flexible as it continuously evolves to meet the current needs of small businesses in Connecticut. The following are major highlights of the Center’s history.

Year History
1968 Hartford College for Women establishes the Career Counseling Center for Women (CCC), the first of its kind in Connecticut and one of the first in the nation.
1984 CCC launches the Association of Entrepreneurial Women to help women business owners network. The group becomes independent after five years.
1985 CCC opens the Entrepreneurial Center to serve the needs of women developing small businesses.
1990 During these early years, the Entrepreneurial Center focuses on providing business advising to low-income, displaced workers and unemployed or underemployed individuals to help them start businesses in the Greater Hartford area.
1991 Hartford College for Women merges with the University of Hartford.
1993–2007 Entrepreneurial Center develops training services for small businesses. Signature courses include a 2-session introductory course “Is Self-Employment for Me?” and the 16-week, 32-session course “Comprehensive Small Business Training.”
1995–1998 Entrepreneurial Center enters into a partnership with the CT Development Authority and People's Bank to create a $5-million loan pool for providing loans to eligible Center graduates.
1995–1997 Entrepreneurial Center opens satellite center in Norwich and expands programs into southeastern Connecticut.
1996–2006
Entrepreneurial Center opens satellite center in Bridgeport and expands programs into Southern Connecticut.
1999 Women’s Business Center is launched as the largest initiative of the Entrepreneurial Center, funded in part through a US Small Business Administration's Office of Women's Business Ownership initial 5-year award of $750,000. Tipper Gore, wife of US Vice President, comes to campus for official opening. CT Department of Economic & Community Development provides major portion of required match.
2006 The Career Counseling Center is re-named the Center for Professional Development (CPD). The Entrepreneurial Center and Women’s Business Center continue to be organized under this department. CPD is given a legacy endowment fund from the former Hartford College for Women to support career development services for women.
2011–present Entrepreneurial Center creates the Hartford Small Business Technical Assistance Program to help support Hartford-based businesses to achieve goals for sustainability and growth by offering in-depth services. Funded in part by a Community Development Block Grant through the City of Hartford.
2011–present Entrepreneurial Center hosts the first annual CT Business Matchmaker Event, working in partnership with the US Small Business Administration CT District, CT Procurement Technical Assistance Program, CT Department of Administrative Services, US General Services Administration, and other government agencies.
2011–present TD Bank Business Leadership Series is developed by CPD with the UHart Alumni Office and continues under the Entrepreneurial Center in 2013.
2012–present Women’s Business Center debuts first Power & Progress Business Women's Symposium and launches the Women's Business Roundtable. Funded in part by Farmington Bank.
2013–present Entrepreneurial Center develops the Small Business Technical Assistance Program to support the growth of small businesses in the Greater Hartford region through in-depth services. Funded in part by the Prudential Foundation.
2013 Entrepreneurial Center is reorganized under the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business when CPD is closed.
2014–present Entrepreneurial Center enters into a strategic partnership with The Metropolitan District and other organizations to provide academies, clinics, and business-match opportunities for small contractors focusing on supporting minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the Small Contractor Development Program.
2014-2018 Entrepreneurial Center becomes part of The Hartford’s Communities with HART initiative providing Financing, Credit, and Financial Education to small business owners and start-ups.
2016 Women’s Business Center ranks in top 20% nationally among Women’s Business Centers.
2017–present Center offers Work for Yourself at 50+, funded by AARP.
2018-present Entrepreneurial Center & Women's Business Center has grown to serving more than 1000 individuals and more than 500 businesses per year. 70% are women or women-owned businesses. Over 50% are minority or minority-owned businesses.

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