Essex Steam Train & Riverboat hosts this month’s networking event

September 12, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

In clear sign that the summer is winding down and the fall is approaching, football season is underway and the baseball pennant races are heating up. I look forward to taking a trip up to Fenway Park tonight to enjoy a big game between the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Past chamber Chairman Anthony Assante purchased the tickets during the auction portion of the chamber’s Golf Tournament which was held in May. My good friend Albert Hamrah secured the tickets and will join us for the game. I appreciate Albert and Anthony’s long-time friendship, and long-time support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.


Our First Niagara Seminar Series continues on Tuesday morning with a session on Engagement Networking - Especially at a Trade Show. Attendees will learn how to pursue more meaningful and productive connections with people they meet at networking events and trade shows. Ellen Ornato and Jenny Drescher of ConnectAnd Improv will lead this fast-paced, impactful and fun skill-building session. Our First Niagara Seminar Series has been very successful throughout 2016, and I again want to thank New England Regional President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team for their strong and continuing support.

The chamber’s Automotive Council will meet Tuesday evening at the Cantina Café Ristorante, 74 Court Street, Middletown at 6:00 p.m. The group will be joined by Commissioner Michael Bzdyra of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles for a discussion on the many important issues facing our auto dealers, repair shops and other members in the industry. I appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to attend and continue to appreciate the leadership of council co-chairs Michael Turner of Turner Automotive and Rich Jukonski of Jukonski Truck Sales.

The September meeting of the chamber’s Durham and Middlefield Division will take place on Wednesday morning on the historic Durham Fairgrounds. Durham Fair President Dan Miramant will provide a preview of this year’s fair which is scheduled for September 22-25. As I noted last week, Dan and his committed volunteers have been hard at work preparing for this year’s fair, the 97th in its rich history, and we certainly appreciate their efforts. The Durham Fair was recently recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s Best of Connecticut issue as the Best Country Fair, something we have known for quite some time. The fair continues to provide four days of good clean wholesome fun. 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 www.durhamfair.com. I look forward to seeing everyone on the Fairgrounds!

The chamber will be well represented at the One MacDonough Place Annual Open House Reception this Wednesday evening. One MacDonough Place continues to provide excellent care to its residents and continues to be a strong member of our organization. We wish them the best for a successful Open House Reception.

Thursday is a busy day for the chamber team as the calendar features meetings of the Transportation Committee, Board of Directors and the Tourism Steering Committee. In addition to those important meetings, the chamber’s September Business After Work Networking Reception will be held at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex from 5-7 p.m. This event will of course 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. 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 President Kevin Dodd and the entire team is doing to help ensure that Middlesex County continues to be a great place to live, work and play. Our membership certainly looks forward to this unique Business After Work event this Thursday evening.

The chamber’s September Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for this Friday morning, Sept. 16 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Guest speaker for this event is Pratt & Whitney President Bob Leduc. Bob Leduc has held numerous senior executive roles over 38 years at United Technologies Corp., as President of Sikorsky in 2015, and is currently serving as President of Pratt & Whitney since January 2016. As I have noted many times over the years, 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. 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 www.middlesexchamber.com. The chamber’s 2016 Membership Drive will kick off immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting on Sept. 16. The membership drive will run through October 11th. Our staff looks forward to partnering with a number of committed chamber volunteers as we collectively work to invite more businesses in our service area and beyond to join our organization.

I want to take a moment to recognize that the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial Dedication Ceremony will be held this Saturday, September 17 at Veterans Memorial Park. The event will feature a 65K run for the Fallen-CT, the opportunity to meet military and Gold Star families, music, and other demonstrations of patriotism throughout the day. The Dedication Ceremony and 65K Finish Line will be presented by keynote speaker, former Navy SEAL Officer, Chris Fussell, who was Aide-de-Camp to then-Lieutenant GEN Stanley McChrystal during his final year commanding the Joint Special Operations Command. I wish the entire Trees of Honor Memorial team nothing but success for this important event and beyond.

I am excited to announce that the chamber’s 2016 Business to Business Expo will take place on Tuesday, October 11 at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell. The chamber’s Expo, one of our signature events, will feature a hall with over 110 exhibitors from a wide variety of industry sectors, workshops on important topics such as energy choice and sustainability solutions, women in leadership and developing young professionals, and much more. Expo will also feature the Middlesex County Health and Wellness Fair, the Middlesex County Career Fair, and the 5th Annual Small Business Awards Luncheon. I am proud to announce that this year’s honorees are: Business of the Year Award (1-30 Employees), Cromwell Automotive, Cromwell; Business of the Year Award (31+ Employees), Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook; Business Growth & Expansion Award, Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant, East Hampton; Manufacturer of the Year, Pratt & Whitney; Minority Owned Business of the Year, Tonia’s Tailoring, Middletown; Outstanding New Business Under 5 Years, iCRV Radio, Essex; Retail Business of the Year, Malloves Jewelers, Middletown; Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year, Nehemiah Brainerd House, Haddam. We are very proud of our 2016 Small Business Award winners who were all nominated by other members of the chamber. They come from many different industry sectors, but they all share a commitment to Middlesex County and they are all great representatives of our business community. We look forward to celebrating their success on October 11. I will have much more on the 2016 Business to Business Expo as we get closer, but please be sure to save the date.

I want to take a moment as we close this week’s column to honor the 15th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country. All of us who lived through 9/11 will never forget that terrible day when we lost so many of our fellow citizens. We should also never forget the shows of patriotism, togetherness, and sense of a common purpose that we all experienced in the aftermath of the attacks. We will always remember those we lost, and will continue to move forward as a strong and free United States of America.

Summer may be coming to a close, but the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County.

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

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