UConn coach Ollie to keynote member breakfast in Cromwell

October 3, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached the month of October in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

The chamber divisions will host forums featuring candidates for legislative office throughout the month of October. The chamber has 15 members of the General Assembly that officially represent our service area. Each candidate for these House and Senate seats are invited to attend the forum or forums that are taking place in the towns within their district. The Portland and East Hampton Division will kick off these meetings this Wednesday at Angelico’s Lake House in East Hampton. Candidates for the State Senate District 33 seat, and the House of Representatives District 32 and District 34 seats have been invited to attend. We look forward to these candidate forums that are scheduled to the end of October, throughout Middlesex County.

The chamber’s Central Business Bureau will hold its October meeting in the chamber conference room this Thursday at 8:00 a.m. The meeting will feature reports from Mayor Dan Drew and a number of city department directors along with reports from the chamber and other key downtown stakeholders. CBB continues to be a vital piece of the downtown infrastructure, and we look forward to another productive meeting.

On Thursday afternoon, I will attend the annual meeting of the Middlesex Health System Board of Corporators at Middlesex Hospital. Middlesex Health System is not only a key employer and provider of critical care in our region, but it has an economic impact beyond its employment base and continues to be a strong supporter of many community initiatives. I look forward to spending time with my fellow corporators, and Middlesex Hospital CEO Vin Capece and his team.

This Friday’s Member Breakfast Meeting with UConn Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Ollie will be a sold out event once again. This exciting chamber event, sponsored by ConnectiCare, will be held at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. I would like to once again thank Coach Ollie for visiting with our membership in advance of the season, and thank our friends at ConnectiCare for sponsoring. We look forward to a great breakfast meeting on Friday in Cromwell.

Our Prevention Committee and the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) will lead a workshop directly following the Member Breakfast Meeting titled “Painkillers & Opioids in the Workplace.” This session will provide employers with insights on how to best help their employees manage pain in a responsible way, and will also explore what over-the-counter medications might be available and effective, how to use opiates in a safe and healthy manner, and what alternative therapies might be available to them. This session will feature Matthew Lundquist, M.D., MPH, who is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Preventive Medicine/Occupational Medicine, Kelly Huffman, MS, LPC, CEAP, who is a licensed professional counselor with the Middlesex Hospital Employee Assistance Program and Solutions EAP, and Betsey Chadwick, MA, who serves as Director of the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC). We encourage our members to register for this event which will feature very important content.

I look forward to attending a special sold out event at the Middletown Elks Lodge on Saturday night which will honor Tom Serra as the 2016 Italian of the Year. Tom has been a dedicated public servant in Middletown for many years through his service as mayor, as a member of the Common Council, and as a supporter of countless community initiatives. He is truly committed to making Middletown a better place. He is also a great friend to me and to our chamber. He chairs our Business and Education Partnership Advisory Council and is past winner of our Gov. William A. O'Neill Public Service Award. We appreciate all of his great work and look forward to celebrating this well-deserved honor with him and his family.

The 2016 Middlesex County Business to Business Expo is scheduled for next Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Expo will once again feature a full day of important activities and events 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 Business to Business Expo is sponsored by Comcast Business and Updike, Kelly, & Spellacy, P.C. with media partner Hartford Business Journal.

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 ctdol.state.ct.us/jobfairs.

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 Improv. An energy-focused workshop, 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, 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. A clean-energy workshop called Sustainable Solutions: Clean Energy and Electric Vehicle Options for Your Business will be presented. The workshop is sponsored by Eversource and speakers include Christie L. Bradway is the Manager of Renewable Power Contracts for Eversource and Watson Collins is the Manager of Business Development for Eversource. Finally, a workshop geared toward young professionals, Communicating in the Digital Age, will provide best practices for tapping one’s personal and leadership capabilities around the communication of digital social media, written communication, such as business writing and blogs; personal branding, public and small-arena speaking and nonverbal 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 members-only executive evening event, to be held from 4 to 7 p.m., will feature a great spread of complimentary food, beer, wine and nonalcoholic drinks, over 100 exhibitors, raffle prizes, and terrific networking. Please join us for an exciting 2016 Middlesex County Business to Business Expo.

I must close this week’s column on a sad note after the passing of my good friend Arthur “Art” Director who passed away recently at the age of 87. Art Director was a fixture in the Middletown and Cromwell communities for many years along with his loving wife Edythe who passed away in 2011. Art founded Connecticut Lighting Centers in 1972, serving as President and CEO until 1994 and then went on to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. In addition to Connecticut Lighting Centers, Art also served in leadership roles at a number of other companies and associations including as president of the Greater Middletown Jaycees, B'Nai B'rith Lodge of Middletown, Congregation Adath Israel Synagogue, Middlesex County Oil Dealers Association and American Lighting Association. Art was also a member of the Governing Board and Investment Committee for the Northern Middlesex County YMCA, a corporator for both Middlesex Memorial Hospital and Rushford Substance Abuse Centers, and served on the Cromwell Board of Finance for 24 years. Art supported countless community initiatives that were dedicated to helping people in a variety of ways. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce was honored to present Art with our Distinguished Citizen Award in 1994. The term “Distinguished Citizen” is a perfect description for Art Director and our award was just one of many that he was honored with throughout his distinguished life. Art was a proud and longtime Rotarian and a four-time Paul Harris Fellow Award winner from the Middletown Rotary Club and Rotary International. He was a fine businessman, a community champion and much, much more. Most importantly, he was a family man, and he will certainly be missed by all of his family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with Art’s children, David and his wife Carol of Cromwell, and Judy Guzman of Wynnewood, PA.; five loving grandchildren, Jacob (Julia) Guzman, Rebecca Guzman (Adam Sanders), Todd (Grace) Director, Jenna Director, and Brett Director; and two great-grandchildren, Zara and Lena Guzman. Art Director had a lasting impact on everyone he touched, his family should be proud. Art Director will be missed.