This week’s Business After Work is a Swashbuckler’s Soiree

March 27, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

I would like to begin this week’s column by congratulating the Community Health Center on gaining approval for its proposed 31,000 square foot office building at the intersection of Main Street and Grand Street. I look forward to attending the groundbreaking ceremony on May 1st, which is also the 45th anniversary of the Community Health Center. Led by its Founder and President, Mark Masselli, CHC has been a long time member of the chamber and a key player in our community on a number of fronts. The chamber was supportive of this project as it went through the local approval process because it will be an important economic and community development initiative for a critical Middletown neighborhood, the North End. I look forward to the groundbreaking and the project’s completion which is a major win for downtown.

This week caps off a very busy March for the chamber team. Our Westbrook Division will meet on Tuesday morning at the Westbrook Town Hall from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. The meeting will feature updates from local officials, a chamber update, and a member roundtable with our Westbrook-based members. We look forward to a productive session and thank First Selectman Noel Bishop for hosting.

On Tuesday afternoon, I look forward to meeting with my fellow executives from Connecticut’s eight metro chambers of commerce at the Bushnell in Hartford. The metro chambers collectively represent thousands of businesses in our state, and these meetings always feature productive discussions about collaboration and joint advocacy for the business community.

The 33rd Annual Business After Work Auction & Taste of Downtown is scheduled for tomorrow evening at The Italian Society of Middletown on Court Street. A number of Middletown’s terrific downtown restaurants will be featured, and they will once again offer delicious samplings from their menus. Complimentary beer, wine, soda and a "Special Drink" of the evening will also be provided for attending members of our chamber and their guests. The Live Auction begins at 5:45 p.m. This portion of the event includes approximately 100 items which may be previewed in advance, and a Silent Auction will also be held throughout the event. Members will also have the opportunity to purchase keys for a treasure chest that could potentially unlock a surprise worth more than $200, a drawing for a movie viewing at Metro Movies 12, and much more. This year’s event is titled “Pirates of Middlesex County Swashbuckler’s Soiree.” Chamber members will enjoy delicious samplings from the following restaurants that are confirmed to attend: Celtic Cavern, First and Last Tavern, Illiano’s Restaurant, Lan Chi’s Vietnamese Restaurant, Mondo, NoRA Cupcake Co., Perk on Main, and Tuscany Grill. We expect a packed house at the Italian Society Hall on Tuesday night and certainly look forward to another great event.

Our highly successful Legislative Event Series continues in the month of April. We look forward to welcoming Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff to a special leadership event on Monday, April 10 at the Courtyard by Marriott. This event will begin at 9 a.m. At this special meeting, sponsored by Eversource, Sen. Duff will visit with chamber members to discuss the 2017 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly. Meeting attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions about the session, and discuss some important issues on our 2017 Public Policy Agenda. This important series concludes on Tuesday, April 25, when we welcome House Minority Leader Themis Klarides to a special leadership event at the Inn at Middletown. The event, sponsored by Kronenberger & Sons Restoration, will begin at 8 and will also give the chamber’s Board of Directors and Legislative Committee the opportunity to ask questions about the session, and discuss some important issues on our 2017 Public Policy Agenda. These events are follow-ups to our 2017 Legislative Breakfast with our legislative delegation, and special leadership events with Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz and Senate Republican President Pro Tem Len Fasano. The chamber’s Legislative Committee will continue to stay engaged during this important legislative session.

Members should also save the date of April 20 for another exciting Business After Work. This event will be held on the Lady Katharine Cruise Boat, which will be docked at Harbor Park, 80 Harbor Drive in Middletown, and will feature a terrific spread of food, drink and of course, the best networking around.

Congressman Joe Courtney will keynote the chamber’s April Member Breakfast Meeting on Monday, April 24 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. The Congressman’s district includes some important down county towns within the chamber’s service area, and we look forward to welcoming him back to a Member Breakfast Meeting. Congressman Courtney has some important committee assignments down in D.C., including the House Armed Services Committee, the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, the Readiness subcommittee, House Education and Workforce Committee, the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions subcommittee and the Higher Education and Workforce Training subcommittee. This event will be held as part of Connecticut Export Week 2017, which is a unique initiative of the District Export Council and U.S. Commercial Service, a division of the Department of Commerce. Pratt & Whitney is the sponsor of this important chamber Member Breakfast Meeting, and we continue to appreciate the strong support of this outstanding corporate citizen.  More information will be made available as we get closer, but members should be sure to save the date of April 24.

I want to take a moment to mention the good work being undertaken by the chamber’s Health Care Council. The council has recently developed four simple questions that will assist individuals as they seek to better understand their prescription health. When prescribed medication, individuals should be sure to ask their doctor, nurse, or pharmacist: Why do I need it? What are my alternatives? What are the complications of the medicine? What if I don’t take it? These might sound like simple questions, but they are critical to properly understanding your prescription health. This is just one of the many important initiatives coming out of our Health Care Council, and I want to once again thank Middlesex Hospital CEO Vin Capece and his team for supporting the council in a variety of ways.

The chamber’s 34th Annual Golf Tournament is scheduled for Friday, May 5 at Portland Golf Course. The chamber Golf Tournament is always a sold-out and outstanding event, and I continue to appreciate the hard work and effort of our Golf Committee. We look forward to another successful chamber Golf Tournament, and expect the sun to shine in Portland on May 5!

Finally, I want to close this week’s chamber column by recapping the outstanding 20th Graduation Awards Ceremony for the award winning Side Street to Main Street Business & Leadership Development Program which was held last Tuesday evening at the chamber building on Main Street. The chamber conference area was packed with graduates, their proud families, and friends, program alumni, representatives from the program’s longtime funder, Aetna, Inc., and other program supporters. This important event officially brings the graduate total to 248 since the inception of this groundbreaking initiative in 1997. Side Street to Main Street is a one 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. As I noted last week, it continues to be an effective way in which we encourage the development of small, minority-owned businesses which are now part of the central fabric of the Middlesex County business community. We were so pleased to have chamber Chairman Greg Shook and Councilman Tom Serra, who represented Mayor Drew and the city of Middletown, and Middletown Director of Office of Equal Opportunity Faith Jackson in attendance at the event along with Aetna’s Senior Director of Corporate Community Investments and Employee Programs Chris Montross who got to see firsthand the great work that this program is doing for our community. I would like to thank Aetna, Inc. once again for its support of this, and of so many community initiatives. We look forward to Class 21 which will begin in the fall.

Spring is upon us, and the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County. 

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