Unique business networking event this week aboard Mystique

April 11, 2016

By Larry McHugh

As April moves along, the chamber continues to be on the move, and the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County.

The chamber’s 2016 Legislative Leadership Series continues Monday morning in Cromwell as we welcome Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff to a special meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott. Senator Bob Duff represents the 25th Senatorial District, which includes Norwalk and Darien. Re-elected to the State Senate in 2014, he was chosen by his senate colleagues in 2015 to serve as Majority Leader. He is also Chair of the Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee and Vice Chair of the Legislative Management Committee.

This important event is sponsored by Eversource, and I want to take a moment to thank Peg Morton, Dan Moore and the entire Eversource team for their longtime support of our Legislative Committee and of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. The 2016 Legislative Leadership Series concludes on April 25, when we welcome House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano to a special meeting sponsored by Connecticut Water Company.

This event will also be held at the Courtyard by Marriott. It is critical that the chamber maintains a strong working relationship with the leadership of both chambers of the General Assembly, and with both political parties, and these events are a big part of that effort.

 The 2016 First Niagara Workshop Series continues Tuesday with a business workshop, “Workplace Conflict Resolution.” Attorney Joshua A. Hawks-Ladds of Pullman & Comley, LLC will discuss best practices in dealing with workplace conflicts, including having an appropriate problem resolution policy, recognizing and dealing with problem employees, and how to best train employees to avoid conflicts. Cost is $35 for chamber members and $45 for nonmembers. Registration information can be found atwww.middlesexchamber.com. I want to once again thank First Niagara New England Regional President Jeff Hubbard, and the entire First Niagara team for their great support of this important workshop series.

This week is another busy one which features two important chamber division meetings. The Durham & Middlefield Division will meet on Wednesday at The Lyman Homestead in Middlefield. Middlesex Hospital Vice President for Strategic Planning and Ambulatory Operations Gary Havican, and Vice President for Clinical Affairs Dr. Bud McDowell, will give a presentation on the hospital’s recent initiatives including its exciting partnership with Mayo Clinic. This presentation continues to be very well received throughout our county and I thank the hospital’s leadership team for sharing this important information with our members.

The Cromwell Division meets on Thursday at Adelbrook Behavioral & Developmental Services. This meeting will feature updates from Mayor Enzo Faienza, Town Manager Tony Salvatore, and other key town officials. Both of these divisions have enjoyed a long stretch of productive meetings, and I continue to appreciate the support of our members in each of the chamber’s member towns.

Our Golf Committee meets this Wednesday evening at Luce Restaurant to continue planning for the sold-out 32nd Annual Golf Tournament which is scheduled for May 6. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament supports many chamber initiatives including the Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship Fund and a wide range of workshops and seminars that help promote business growth and economic development in our region. I know our players, our staff, and all tournament supporters look forward to another great day at Portland Golf Course on May 6.

Our most unique chamber Business After Work Networking Reception will happen this Thursday evening on Lady Katharine Cruises’ Mystique. Chamber members will enjoy complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks, as well as delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Jim and his staff. The Mystique is a terrific place to meet and network with other business people because as our friends at Lady Katharine Cruises’ say, “Everything is Better on the Water.” The Mystique will be docked at Harbor Park Landing and boarding begins at 5 p.m. The event will kick off with a welcome from Lady Katharine Cruises, and the Hors d’oeuvres buffet will be revealed at 5:15 p.m.

Networking will continue on the boat while it is docked until 6:30 p.m. when the Mystique takes a short cruise down the beautiful Connecticut River. A City of Middletown official will brief chamber members that are on board on the ongoing process of Middletown’s riverfront development. Our members are very much looking forward to this special event, and I want to thank Nancy Stamler and the entire Lady Katharine Cruises’ team for hosting us and for their strong support of our chamber.

The 2016 High School Career Fair Expo is April 28 at the Freeman Athletic Center on the campus of Wesleyan University. This major annual event, presented by the chamber’s Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council, The Middlesex Consortium of Schools, and Wesleyan University’s Center for Community Partnerships, will be attended by students from Middletown, Cromwell, Durham, Middlefield, Portland, East Hampton, Chester, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth and Vinal Technical High School.

The Career Fair Expo is an exploration event, a way to introduce our high school students to the many different career fields out there. We believe that it is very important to connect local students to the many industry sectors that are critical to the economy in our region and in our state, and this event is an important part of that effort. I would like to express a big thank you to those professionals who will be on hand to present and share their career experiences with the students.

The 29th Annual Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Breakfast is scheduled for April 29. The chamber’s Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council serves as a link between member businesses and educational leaders from Middlesex County Schools. Its mission is to facilitate and encourage the development of mutually supportive partnerships, and to prepare students for what is an increasingly global and competitive economy. The Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, initiated in 1992, is a partnership between the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and the Middletown Board of Education, and has achieved notable success.

This program provides students with Mentors. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, people who want to help young people bring out the strengths that are already there. The keynote speaker for the event will be Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan University. President Roth has been at the helm at Wesleyan since 2007, has served as Professor of History and the Humanities for many years, and has written extensively on a number of scholarly topics. The Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Breakfast has become an important annual event for our chamber, and I thank Liberty Bank for its longtime sponsorship and support.

I must once again close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of two truly special Middletown residents.

Louis D. “Cleats” Colavito passed away recently at the age of 85. Cleats was a terrific man who loved his home city of Middletown. He served our country with honor in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict and we will always appreciate his service. Cleats was a fine athlete who enjoyed an outstanding career in high school and at the semi-pro level in football, track and basketball. He was an avid fan of Xavier football, and I was honored to coach his two sons, Scott and Chris, and his son in law Tony Jaskot, during my tenure at the school.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Rosemarie, to whom he was married for sixty years, his daughter Donna Jaskot, Scott, Chris, his brother Anthony, all of his grandchildren, including Dan Jaskot who is an active member of our chamber and Chairman of our Young Professionals’ Alliance, and his entire network of family of friends at this difficult time.

I also want to take a moment to honor the passing of Barbara “Bobbi” Eddinger who was tragically taken from us at the young age of 61. Bobbi was a staple in our community who supported a number of civic and church initiatives and contributed mightily to the beauty of downtown Middletown through her floral and greenery arrangements. Bobbi was the owner of Buds & Blossoms greenhouses and co-owner of Stone Post Gardens with her son Matt. She was also a lover of music, a woman of faith, and just an all-around great person.

Most importantly however, she was someone who loved her family above all else, and they certainly loved her. Our thoughts and prayers are with Barbara’s husband Richard, their five sons Matthew, Luke, Joshua, Samuel, and Zachariah, their 15 grandchildren, and their entire network of family and friends at this very sad time.

Louis D. “Cleats” Colavito and Barbara “Bobbi” Eddinger will be missed by many. We will always take comfort in the memories, and the fact that they both had lives that were well lived. May they rest in peace.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com.