Courant: “‘Adult’ Businesses Add To Hartford’s Image Woes”

Citizens of Northampton are not the only ones concerned about how adult businesses present themselves. The 12/10/06 Hartford Courant reports:

Hartford has an image issue.

For those trying to sell it, the city is all about New England charm, wholesome family outings, high culture, good food and vibrant neighborhoods…

But…[f]rom either direction [on I-91], big billboards sell the city’s sex industry…

“We want to be known as a destination for that convention center, and we want people to come here and visit and enjoy the heritage and cultural richness that the city has, including its diversity in its neighborhoods,” said Mayor Eddie A. Perez in a recent interview. “Adult entertainment does nothing for any of those kinds of strategies…”

[The adult] industry is facing challenges – both public and political.

[Michelle] Freridge, [head of the Free Speech Coalition, an industry trade group based in California], said that the industry as a whole saw significant growth until some time in 2005 when the sale of DVDs and Web-based content slowed.

“There have been several laws that have been passed recently that make it much harder for the industry to do business,” she said. “The cost of doing business has increased, and the legal risks of doing business have increased. As a result, a lot of people have gotten out of the industry…”

Kenneth R. Kahn, an influential voice in the city’s marketing strategy and the head of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, says that while stores shouldn’t be banned and billboards can’t be forcibly removed, a little cooperation would be nice.

“Everybody in the world has a different sense of what is fun, so you need to be careful about trying to eliminate all these things,” Kahn said. “But we’re talking about exercising a modicum of good taste and restraint…”

Yvon Alexandre champions economic development in the North End that he likes to call “Uptown…”

“We’ve been spending a lot of money, a lot of time to really change the whole image of the North End,” he said. “We don’t particularly want that side of Hartford to be considered the adult entertainment district.”

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