Notice:  Route 9 North, Exit 18 will be closed to traffic on Saturday, October 29th from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., due to an event!  Main Street (Route 99) in Cromwell will be closed to traffic from Route 372 (West St.) to South St. for “Halloween On Main Street”.  To access the event, take Exit 19 on Route 9 North.

Republican Leadership to Appear as Part of Legislative Leadership Series

April 18, 2016

By Larry McHugh

The spring season is moving right along, warmer weather is on the way, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

Last week was another busy one with a number of events and activities throughout our region. The chamber’s 2016 Legislative Leadership Series continued on Monday morning in Cromwell as we welcomed Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff to a special meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott. While he acknowledged that our state has its challenges, Sen. Duff shared a positive message with our members and urged cooperation on a wide range of important issues. This chamber legislative event was sponsored by Eversource, and I want to take a moment to once again thank Peg Morton, Dan Moore and the entire Eversource team for their longtime support of our Legislative Committee and of our organization. Dan did a fine job with his remarks and with his introduction of Sen. Duff.

The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s second installment in its legislative leadership series featured state Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bob Duff as its speaker. From left are: Chairman of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Vincent Capece, Duff, Vice President of Governmental Affairs at Eversource Peg Morton and Co-chairs of the chamber’s legislative committee Derek Phelps and Richard Parmelee.  

As I have repeatedly noted, it is very important that the chamber maintains a strong working relationship with not only the Middlesex County delegation, but with the leadership of both political parties and in both chambers of the General Assembly. 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 at the Courtyard by Marriott. We certainly look forward to another successful chamber legislative event, and thank the Republican Leadership for joining us at a very busy time in the legislative session.

A grand opening celebration for CrossFit Dragon City was held last Wednesday afternoon at its 180 Johnson Street location in Middletown. The event also celebrated the recent expansion and renovations to the CrossFit facility. I was happy to join Middletown Chief of Staff Joe Samolis, Small Business Development Center Counselor Paul Dodge, and Economic Development Specialist Tom Marano as we officially welcomed Julie Raymond and her team to the local business community. We wish them nothing but success moving forward with this unique workout facility.

An outstanding Business After Work networking event hosted by Lady Katharine Cruises was held aboard their boat Mystique last Thursday evening. Chamber members enjoyed complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks, as well as delicious hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Jim and his staff. The business networking while the boat was docked continued with a short cruise down river which proved to be very popular with those who attended.

Councilman Gerry Daley, who chairs the Economic Development Committee, provided an overview on the city’s plans for the riverfront redevelopment over the next few years. Nancy Stamler and the entire Lady Katharine Cruises’ team continues to do a great job with this special and unique event venue on the Connecticut River. I also want to thank owner Jon Manafort for his support of the event, and for hosting our group. We wish them continued success and thank them for hosting the over 225 chamber members that attended.

This week also features a number of important chamber meetings throughout Middlesex County. Our All Middletown Division will meet on Tuesday morning at The Village at South Farms on Saybrook Road. In addition to local updates from town officials, the meeting will include remarks from State Comptroller Kevin Lembo. Comptroller Lembo is a longtime supporter of our chamber and he takes time out of his busy schedule to meet with each of our divisions on an annual basis. He will discuss his office and some of his key goals and objectives in 2016 and beyond. The mission of the Office of the State Comptroller is to provide accounting and financial services; to administer employee and retiree benefits; to develop accounting policy and exercise accounting oversight; and to prepare financial reports for state, federal and municipal governments and the public. I appreciate his continued support and willingness to visit with our membership.

This Tuesday evening, the 19th graduation awards ceremony for the award-winning Side Street to Main Street Business and Leadership Development Program will be held at the chamber office. The program is a year-long entrepreneurial and business development course, with a rigorous curriculum, designed to assist minority small business owners in the community who have not had formal business training. We are so proud of this program and the fact that it has changed so many lives over the course of its history.

Since its inception in 1997, over 226 people have graduated from the program, and it has been a most successful and effective way in which we have encouraged the development of small, minority-owned businesses which are now part of the greater Middlesex County business community. I want to once again thank Aetna, Inc. who has funded and supported this program since the beginning. Aetna continues to be a great corporate citizen in our state through its support of this, and of many other important community initiatives. I also want to thank Jim Jackson of The Essex Group who continues to do a fine job in his role as the program’s facilitator. Finally, I want to thank Jennifer De Kine from the chamber staff who does a fantastic job as program coordinator and staff liaison.

The Side Street to Main Street Business and Leadership Development Program will continue to be an effective business development tool as we move forward.

The 2016 High School Career Fair Expo is April 28 at the Spurrier-Snyder Ice Rink, Freeman Athletic Center on the campus of Wesleyan University. Presented by the chamber’s Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council, The Middlesex Consortium of Schools, and Wesleyan University’s Center for Community Partnerships, this 11th Annual Career Fair Expo 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 business and career professionals who will be on hand to present and share their career experiences with the students.

This major annual event is made possible by sponsorship support from Eversource and Pratt & Whitney to the Chamber’s Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council, and Wesleyan University’s Center for Community Partnerships’ donation of the Spurrier-Snyder Ice Rink facility to hold this event.

This is truly a great partnership, many thanks to our Business & Education sponsors.

The 29th Annual Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Breakfast is 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 want to again thank Liberty Bank for its longtime sponsorship and support.

On May 6, the 33rd Annual Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament will take place at Portland Golf Course. The 2016 tournament is sold out for the 33rd straight year, with 144 golfers and over 80 more on the waiting list. It is hard to believe that another chamber golf tournament is almost here, but I am very grateful to our Golf Committee and all of our volunteers who are critical to the success of this important event for our organization. Chamber Vice President Johanna Bond has served as coordinator of our tournament for many years and she continues to do an outstanding job with the event. I will have more on the golf tournament as we get closer, but we are certainly looking forward to another great day at Portland Golf Course on May 6.

I am afraid I must once again close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of Thomas Kronenberger Sr. at the age of 89. Tom was a fine man who served our country with honor in the U.S. Navy during World War II. As we do with the entire Greatest Generation, we appreciate Tom’s service and defense of our freedom. Tom was an outstanding businessman who enjoyed success in a number of different ventures throughout his career. He did a terrific job overseeing the building and restoration of Johnsonville Village in Moodus where he worked for 23 years.

Tom recently served as a consultant to Kronenberger & Sons Restoration in Middletown which is a strong and active member of our chamber. Tom was a man of faith who had many interests and enjoyed many hobbies. However, above all else, Tom Kronenberger was a family man who was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and most recently, a great grandfather. Our thoughts and prayers are with Tom’s wife of 68 years, Rita, his three children, Thomas Kronenberger Jr., Karen Lewis and Brian Kronenberger, and his entire family and network of friends.

Brian Kronenberger is a longtime chamber supporter and a member of our Board of Directors and Legislative Committee. I was honored to coach Brian and his brother Tom Jr. while they played on the football team at Xavier High School. Thomas Kronenberger Sr. led a life well lived, and he will be missed by many.

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