UConn President Herbst will lead off mentor recognition breakfast

May 8, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

The 34th Annual Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament, originally scheduled for last Friday, was postponed to Friday, June 2 due to inclement weather. Our Golf Committee, players, staff, and all other tournament supporters were looking forward to a great day on the course, but Mother Nature had other ideas. We still look forward to a sold out tournament on June 2 and will continue to provide updates on the rescheduled event as we get closer.

The next installment of the chamber’s KeyBank Workshop Series is scheduled for tomorrow, May 9 at the chamber office in Middletown. This session, Lead By Being Your Highest Self, will teach attendees how to be bold, brave, and intentional, and will identify ways to re-focus one’s attention, beliefs and perceptions to support their success. Attendees will also learn how to shift from focusing on problems and fighting fires to proactively creating solutions. I want to take a moment to thank Dr. Wendy Shumway for presenting this important content, and KeyBank Market President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team for their strong support of this chamber initiative.

Wednesday evening features the Graduation Dinner for the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Culinary Training Program which will be held in the Vinal Technical High School Dining Room. Through funding from the Connecticut Department of Labor, the Culinary Training Program is designed to assist area restaurants by training their employees in the cook-chef occupation with the goal of upgrading their skills. Participants receive 60 hours of classroom training followed by on the job training. I would like to thank all of the restaurants that participated in this year’s program: Connecticut Wedding Group, Herd Restaurant, Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, Lan Chi's Vietnamese Restaurant, Perk on Main, Radisson Hotel Cromwell, and WAVES. I also want to acknowledge our instructors who did a terrific job this year, Chef Louis Marinelli and Chef Ryan Barnes, and finally, I want to thank Commissioner Scott Jackson and the Department of Labor for supporting this important job retention initiative in Middlesex County.

The 30th Annual Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Breakfast is scheduled for this Thursday, May 11 at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell. The chamber’s Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council serves as a link between member businesses and educational leaders from Middlesex County Schools. Its mission is to facilitate and encourage the development of mutually supportive partnerships, and to prepare students for what is an increasingly global and competitive economy. The Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, initiated in 1992, is a partnership between the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and the Middletown Board of Education. This program provides students with mentors from a variety of professional fields in our community. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, and people who want to help young people bring out the strengths that are already there. The keynote speaker for the Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Breakfast is UConn President Susan Herbst. UConn’s first female president, Susan Herbst was appointed in December of 2010. In addition to her academic career, she is a scholar of public opinion, media, and American politics, and is the author of four books. We look forward to welcoming her back to Middlesex County and look forward to another successful Member Breakfast Meeting. Liberty Bank, an outstanding corporate citizen in our region and throughout the state, is a longtime sponsor of this important annual chamber event. I continue to appreciate the work and support of Liberty’s CEO Chandler Howard and his entire team.

The chamber’s Expo Committee will meet immediately following the breakfast meeting on Thursday at the Radisson. The 2017 Middlesex County Business to Business Expo, which will once again feature a number of events and activities, is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11, 2017.

Two important chamber division meetings are scheduled for this week. Our Durham & Middlefield Division will hold its May meeting on Wednesday at Cooper Atkins Corp. in Middlefield. Chamber Legislative Committee Co-Chair Rich Carella will be on hand to provide an update on the chamber’s legislative activities as the Regular Session of the General Assembly progresses in Hartford.  The meeting will also feature local updates from town officials and a brief preview of the 2017 Durham Fair. Our Chester, Deep River, and Essex Division will hold its May meeting on Friday at Chester Village West. This meeting will feature remarks from Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. Lt. Gov. Wyman has been a fixture at chamber meetings since her days as State Comptroller. We continue to appreciate her longtime support of our organization. The chamber’s Legislative Committee will hold its May meeting immediately following the division meeting at Chester Village West. As I have noted many times, the county based divisions and industry based councils and committees continue to play a critical role in the operation of our chamber.

A Grand Opening celebration for HK Fitness in Higganum is scheduled for next Monday evening at 5:00 p.m. HK Fitness is a full service family owned fitness center built to serve the Haddam- Killingworth community. I look forward to joining First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo and the chamber’s Haddam Division chairman Mike Bennett as we welcome Merle Mckenzie and the entire HK Fitness team to the Middlesex business community.

May’s Business After Work Networking Reception is fast approaching. Scheduled for next Thursday, May 18 from 5-7:00 p.m. at the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, the event will feature a terrific spread of food, drink and as always, the best networking around. The Valley Railroad Company, which operates 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 Kevin Dodd 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 next Thursday evening.

Looking ahead to June, the chamber’s 2017 Annual Awards Dinner is scheduled for Wednesday, June 7 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. We are very excited to honor four outstanding Middlesex County individuals with our 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award, William F. & Sharon K. Griffin, Kenneth W. MacCormac, and Phil Ouellette. We will also honor the recipient of the 2017 Chief Michael L. Green Award, William J. Warner of the Middletown Police Department, and the winners of the chamber’s three scholarships. Finally, the event will mark the official changeover of the chamber’s chairmanship. Essex Savings Bank President Greg Shook, who has done a wonderful job in this important leadership position, will pass the chairman’s gavel to Rick Morin of Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski. I will have much more on the event and our award recipients in subsequent columns, but excitement is building and members should be sure to save the date.

Finally, I want to remind our members that the Travelers Championship returns to the month of June for 2017. This year’s tournament is scheduled for June 19–25 at TPC at River Highlands in Cromwell. The Travelers Championship is one of the premier events on the PGA Tour and part of the FedExCup series. We are lucky to have it in Middlesex County and in our state. Tournament Director Nathan Grube and his team are working hard to attract a top notch player field which already includes Jason Day and Rory McIlroy. Additional information will be shared as the tournament gets closer, but members should be sure to save the date.

May is off and running, the calendar is packed with events and activities, and the chamber team in on the move.

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