Student Fellowship

Providing Business Aid to Boost 
the Local Economy

Project Area:

Economic Recovery


Stamford, CT

Reporting to:

Director of Economic Development

The Challenge

As a city with multiple corporate headquarters and the largest transportation hub between Boston and New York City, Stamford’s residents and business community have been deeply hit by the current public health crisis that has closed many businesses and forced others to shift their workforce to telecommuting. Due to COVID-19 related industry shutdowns, Stamford has seen a peak of over 10,000 unemployed residents. Additionally, most of the city’s 17 million square feet of office space is temporarily unoccupied as major corporations reduced on-site staff to slow the spread of the virus. These factors have disproportionately impacted the hospitality industry, which provides services to the larger corporations in the city.

The city partnered with several organizations to assist restaurants and small businesses with direct outreach, street dining, and discount gift certificate support, but more needs to be done. The city would like to develop an 18-month recovery and growth strategy based on existing partnership programs and best practices that have been developed during the pandemic. In particular, the strategy should include a granular, quantitative analysis of which minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses in Stamford have been impacted most and what distinct issues these businesses face. A successful project would leave the city with a deeper understanding of the types of programs Stamford should invest in to support small businesses, the barriers that exist for specific sectors and populations, and recommendations for programs that demonstrate equity and inclusion.

What You’ll Do

The fellow will be expected to:

  1. Research and analyze publicly available data on the financial impact the pandemic has had on minority- and women-owned businesses; use data from a recent McKinsey Consulting assessment, as well as sector performance data from the Connecticut Department of Economic Development, the city’s Office of Finance, the Small Business Development Center, the Connecticut Department of Labor, Google Mobility, and Department of Economic Development, among others.
  2. Engage with local business leaders and state, regional, and local partners (e.g. the Stamford Partnership, Downtown Special Service District, and the Stamford Chamber of Commerce) through in-depth interviews to incorporate narrative and qualitative data into the analysis.
  3. Research policy, case studies, and evidence-based practices to develop recommendations on which programs would be most beneficial to businesses and residents.

What You’ll Bring

  • Highly analytical mindset
  • Experience in and passion for economic development, small business growth, and equity
  • Experience in organizational transformation
  • Data analysis (including quantitative and qualitative data collection) and policy analysis skills
  • Design thinking skills
  • Communication skills
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