Labor Day well-deserved day of rest for Middlesex County workers

September 6, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Today, we celebrate Labor Day in Middlesex County and around our great nation. Labor Day is designed to provide a day of rest for working men and women, but it also represents the traditional end of summer and serves as an ideal time to chart a path for the rest of the year. The chamber's far-reaching membership, 2,125 businesses that employ nearly 50,000 people, allows me to observe the outstanding diversity in the Middlesex County workforce. The men and women of the Middlesex community not only provide the economic productivity that allows us to maintain a high standard of living, but they give back each and every day, and provide a great example for our young people. Despite the many differences in occupations, there is a definite common theme among those in our county and statewide workforce, everyone works hard. A job in any field requires a personal commitment and a lot of time and effort. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce has continued to implement successful workforce development programs throughout the past year. As a result of our great working relationships with a number of key partners, the chamber is able to serve as a bridge that connects job seekers to employers. A strong workforce is the key to a strong economy, and the chamber is proud of its workforce development initiatives. Enjoy your Labor Day Middlesex County, but let us not forget our fellow citizens who are currently looking for work. 

This first full week of September is packed with a number of chamber division and committee meetings. Our Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Committee will meet tomorrow at 8 a.m. in the chamber conference room. This group is charged with planning and executing the chamber’s annual Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting which is always a huge event for our organization. This year’s event is scheduled for Monday, November 7, 2016 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell with guest speaker Captain Paul Whitescarver, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine Base New London. We look forward to another outstanding Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans event and continue to appreciate the good work of this important committee which is led by its Chairman, Phil Cacciola.

Wednesday morning features meetings of the chamber’s Portland and East Hampton Division and the Environment, Land Use and Energy Committee. The division meeting, to be held at Portland Library, will feature local updates from key municipal officials and chamber members. The chamber’s divisions continue to be a vital link to our member towns and to each individual local business community within our service area.

The Environment, Land Use, and Energy Committee is comprised of attorneys, engineers, environmental specialists, developers and other professionals. The committee focuses on important environment, land use and energy issues that have a direct impact on the business community in Middlesex County. This committee, as all of our industry based groups do, also continues to be an important piece of the chamber’s infrastructure.

Following the division meeting in Portland, I look forward to joining Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield for the Grand Opening Celebration of Waterview Wellness Center on Portland Cobalt Road in Portland. The team at Waterview is a group of dedicated and professional practitioners providing compassionate care to assist clients on their journey to wellness. I look forward to the event and wish them nothing but success moving forward.

Our Cromwell Division meets on Thursday morning at The Mattabassett District's Water Pollution Control Facility. The Cromwell Division, under the leadership of Chairman Jay Polke, is a very strong chamber sub-group and we look forward to another full meeting of updates and reports.

Finally, our Chester, Deep River and Essex Division will meet this Friday at Tri-Town Youth Services where Betsey Chadwick, director of the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC), will provide an update on the many initiatives she has engaged in over the past few months.

All of this, combined with a meeting of the Prevention Committee on Thursday morning, makes for a busy week for the chamber team. We continue to be on the move in support of our membership and of the business community in Middlesex County.

The chamber’s September Business After Work Networking Reception will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex from 5-7 p.m. This event will feature a terrific spread of food and drink for members and their guests, and as always, the best networking around. The Valley Railroad Company, operating the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, has been serving the lower Connecticut River Valley since 1971. The company’s mission is to keep alive the rich mechanical, industrial, and transportation heritage of our state through the ongoing operation of vintage steam and diesel locomotives, passenger coaches, and the facilities and infrastructure that support these. Their unique facilities and programs attract visitors from all over the state and the northeast region. In fact, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat is one of the top tourist attractions in Connecticut. We are very proud of the work that Kevin Dodd, Rob Galiette, and the entire team is doing to make sure that Middlesex County continues to be a great place to live, work and play. Our membership certainly looks forward to the Business After Work event on Sept. 15.

Our September Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Friday morning, Sept. 16 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Guest speaker for this event is Pratt & Whitney President Bob Leduc. As I noted last week, Pratt & Whitney is an extremely important employer and corporate citizen in Middletown, in Middlesex County, and in the State of Connecticut. In addition to the company’s direct contributions to the state’s economy and to our national security, Pratt & Whitney’s operations are also critical to a large number of supplier companies and other support operations. Bob Leduc has been President of Pratt & Whitney since January 2016. He has held numerous senior executive roles over 38 years at United Technologies Corp., most recently as President of Sikorsky in 2015. We very much appreciate Pratt & Whitney’s support of our chamber and of our state, and are honored to welcome Mr. Leduc to this chamber Member Breakfast Meeting. Those interested in attending the event can register online at

The chamber’s 2016 Membership Drive will kick off immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting on Sept. 16. I will have much more on this important initiative for our chamber in next week’s column, but our staff is already working hard on the planning.

September is also the home of the Durham Fair, a major event for Middlesex County and the State of Connecticut. The 97th Durham Fair will be held from September 22-25 on the famous fairgrounds in the heart of Durham. Durham Agricultural Fair Association President Dan Miramant and his team of committed volunteers have been hard at work preparing for the week, and we certainly appreciate their efforts. The Durham Fair continues to provide four days of good clean wholesome fun and was recently recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s Best of Connecticut edition. From entertainment headliners like Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, to Foreigner and Old Dominion, to livestock barns featuring prize-winning animals, to the educational Discovery Tent, to arts and crafts and a number of shopping options, the Durham Fair has it all. The Fair will also once again feature an array of food options, a number of games, and outstanding events and activities. As I have noted many times and will continue to note, we are very lucky to have this large-scale agricultural event in Middlesex County.  The Durham Fair is the largest fair in North America managed entirely by unpaid volunteers, and it is truly a unique event. For more information, please visit I look forward to seeing everyone on the Fairgrounds!

Labor Day in upon us in Middlesex County, the summer is winding down, but the chamber team is just getting warmed up.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit