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.

Pratt & Whitney will hire 8,000 new employees in Connecticut over next decade

September 19, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Durham Fair week is upon us once again in Middlesex County, and we certainly look forward to four days of good, clean wholesome fun. This year’s fair, the 97th in its rich history, will be held from Thursday through Sunday on the historic Durham Fairgrounds. Our Durham & Middlefield Division held its annual Durham Fair meeting last Wednesday in the Public Safety building on the fairgrounds. It was a productive meeting which featured reports from town and state officials, and a preview of this year’s fair from our friend Dan Miramant who serves as Durham Fair Association President. Dan showed an outstanding video about the history of the fair and what it means to the town of Durham. I would like to once again commend Dan and his committed team of volunteers that have been hard at work preparing for this year’s fair. The Durham Fair was recently recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s Best of Connecticut issue as the Best Country Fair and it is prepared to prove that yet again. The fair will certainly have something for everyone when it comes to entertainment. The Main Stage will host Old Dominion on Friday, Foreigner on Saturday, and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas on Sunday. Demolition derbies, a tractor pull, a figure eight competition, a garden tractor pull, a truck and SUV pull, a monster truck show, animal pulls, a marvelous mutts show, and the redneck games will also take place throughout the four-day event. Livestock barns featuring prize-winning animals, an educational discovery tent, arts and crafts, shopping tents, an array of food options and more can also be found throughout the grounds and throughout the event. As I have noted many times, 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!

There is an important meeting of downtown Middletown Property Owners, Washington to Court block, scheduled for this Tuesday morning at the chamber office. This group has gathered periodically over the past six months to make sure there is an ongoing dialogue about the plans for parking and infrastructure changes in the downtown area. I look forward to another productive meeting.

I am pleased to be attending the Grand Opening Celebration for Middlesex Shades & Blinds in Main Street Market along with Mayor Dan Drew and Middletown Small Business Development Center Counselor Paul Dodge. This event is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon. We look forward to celebrating this new venture with Mike Uliano and his team and wish him nothing but the best moving forward.

The Connecticut Employment and Training Commission (CETC) will meet this Thursday morning at the DOL offices in Wethersfield. CETC provides workforce-related policy and planning guidance to the Governor and General Assembly and promotes coordination of the state’s workforce-related investments, strategies, and programs. Appointed by the Governor, its members represent Connecticut businesses, employers, key state agencies, regional/ local entities, organized labor, community-based organizations and other stakeholders. I am honored to represent our chamber on the commission and look forward to another productive meeting.

The chamber’s Young Professionals’ Alliance will host an important meeting this Thursday evening in the chamber conference room. The Young Professionals’ Alliance, chaired by Dan Jaskot of EMPOWER Leadership Sports and Adventure Center, is a personal and professional development committee that is comprised of young chamber members looking make a difference. YPA is designed to help young businesspeople interact socially, exchange ideas and interests, and gain an insider's view of the regional business scene. Recently, the Young Professionals’ Alliance embarked on a strategic initiative to get its members more involved in other aspects of the chamber including committees, divisions, events and eventually, the Board of Directors. We are reaching out to a number of young professionals from a variety of different industry sectors in Middlesex County to invite them to attend the meeting which will essentially be a brainstorming session designed to extract feedback from attending young professionals on what they would like to see the YPA focus on in the coming year. Whether it is ideas for events, leadership programs, seminars, or anything else, this feedback will help us plan a successful year for the Young Professionals’ Alliance, and more importantly, its members.

The chamber’s October Member Breakfast Meeting featuring UConn Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Ollie is scheduled for Friday, October 7 at the Radisson in Cromwell. This major chamber event, which we expect to sell out once again, is sponsored by ConnectiCare. Coach Ollie always fills the ballroom for his visit with our membership and always does a very nice job with his remarks. We look forward to not only hearing about this year’s Huskies team, but about Kevin’s thoughts on coaching and leadership in the modern age. I want to once again thank ConnectiCare for their continued support of this event and of our chamber, and Coach Ollie for his willingness to once again visit with our group.

The 2016 Middlesex County Business to Business Expo is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the Radisson. Expo will once again feature a full day of important events and activities including a Connecticut Tourism “Outlook” Breakfast, the Middlesex County Career Fair, the 2016 Small Business Awards Luncheon featuring DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith, a number of terrific workshops, the annual Health and Wellness Fair and the extremely popular Executive Evening Business After Work Networking Reception.

 The Middlesex County Fall Career Fair, featuring over 50 employers that are currently hiring, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Professional Resume Writers will be on site to assist in the development of resumes and cover letters. For a list of participating companies and positions available, please visit

The Health and Wellness Fair, sponsored by Middlesex Hospital, will highlight best practices for promoting health and wellness in your company and in your life. The Health and Wellness Fair will include a flu vaccine clinic, blood pressure screenings, cholesterol screenings, bone density testing, balance testing, and much more. Information will also be available on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, rehabilitation, sleeping disorders, diabetes, adult and pediatric asthma, weight management for children, chronic heart failure, smoking cessation, urgent care services, and wellness programs.

A number of important workshops will take place at the 2016 Business to Business Expo. The first is a session on Women in Leadership and How to Succeed in the Modern Age. This workshop will be led by Portland First Selectman Susan Bransfield, Durham First Selectman Laura Francis, and Haddam First Selectman Lizz Milardo. The second workshop for women in business is titled: Empowering Women: One Woman Can Change Anything, Empower Yourself and Others! This session will be led by Ellen Ornato and Jenny Drescher of ConnectAnd Impov. An energy-focused workshop titled: Your Energy, Your Choice: Helping out Business Customers Understand Competitive Energy Supply, will be led by Kevin Charette, Director of the Call Centers at Eversource, and Daryush Donyavi, Supervisor, Electric Energy Supplier Services at Eversource. A workshop focusing on Digital Strategy for your Tourism Business will feature information on how to create an up to date digital strategy to enhance your business practices, increase your productivity and grow your revenue. Finally, a workshop geared towards young professionals titled: Communicating in the Digital Age, will provide best practices for tapping one’s personal and leadership capabilities around communication of digital social media, written communication such as business writing and blogs, personal branding, public and small-arena speaking, as well as non-verbal communication.

We recently announced the winners of our Small Business Awards which will be presented at the annual Small Business Awards Luncheon featuring DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith. The 2016 winners 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, Middletown, Minority Owned Business of the Year-Tonia’s Tailoring, Middletown, Outstanding New Business Under 5 Years-ICRV/Radio, Ivoryton, Retail Business of the Year-Malloves Jewelers, Middletown, Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year-Nehemiah Brainerd House Bed and Breakfast, 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.

The Middlesex County Tourism Council will host our third edition of our “Let’s Make a Deal” which is designed to help our tourism partners create amazing package deals in Middlesex County.

The members only Executive Evening Event, to be held from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., will feature a great spread of complimentary food, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks, over 100 exhibitors, raffle prizes, and terrific networking.  Also included in the Executive Evening event is the Witch’s Brew, Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship Benefit Room, sponsored by City Steam Brewery. Proceeds will benefit Business Industry Foundation of Middlesex County.

For more information, or to register for Expo events and activities, please visit