Essex Steam Train to host this week’s Business After Work

May 15, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

May is moving right along in Middlesex County and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

I look forward to attending this evening’s Grand Opening celebration for HK Fitness in Higganum 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. We certainly wish them the best moving forward.

This week features a number of other important meetings across Middlesex County and in other parts of the state.

The chamber’s Women’s Business Alliance will host a networking event at Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant in East Hampton on Tuesday evening. This event, titled “Networking by the Lake” will begin at 5:00 p.m. The Women’s Business Alliance (WBA) is a council of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce that provides challenges and opportunities to educate, enrich, and explore issues. It is a very active chamber council and I appreciate the commitment of the WBA Steering Committee and its entire membership.

As I have noted many times, the chamber’s divisions continue to play a critical role in our organization. The Cromwell Division, one of our most active, will hold its May meeting this Wednesday at TPC at River Highlands. Travelers Championship Sales Director Jason Soucy will make his annual appearance at this meeting to preview this year’s tournament. The 2017 Travelers Championship is scheduled for June 19–25 at TPC at River Highlands. We are so fortunate to have this major PGA Tour event in Middlesex County on an annual basis. Tournament Director Nathan Grube continues to work hard to attract a top notch player field which already includes Jason Day and Rory McIlroy and a number of other top players. Excitement is building for this year’s tournament, and the countdown is on.

Wednesday afternoon features the May meeting of Goodspeed Musicals’ Board of Directors in East Haddam. The Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, and The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, continue to be very important tourist attractions in our region. The Goodspeed Musicals team continues to attract excellent shows to these two great venues. Thoroughly Modern Millie is currently running at the Goodspeed until July 2, and Deathless, A New Musical, is running at the Terris Theatre from June 2 to July 2. I am honored to serve on the board for Goodspeed Musicals and I look forward to another productive meeting on Wednesday.

One of the key issues that the chamber focuses on a daily basis is workforce development. We believe strongly that being a bridge between job seekers and employers is a key part of our core mission. I sit on the Executive Committee for Workforce Alliance which, under the leadership of Bill Villano, strives to deliver employment solutions that connect people with jobs or training, and employers with skilled workers in South Central Connecticut. The chamber enjoys a strong and longstanding partnership with Workforce Alliance on a number of workforce development fronts. I look forward to attending Workforce Alliance’s Executive Committee meeting on Thursday morning in Hamden where these important workforce focused conversations will continue.

A busy week continues on Thursday afternoon when the chamber’s Board of Directors holds its May meeting at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown. Vin Capece and his team at the hospital have hosted this meeting in the month of May for many years. We continue to appreciate the support of Vin and the entire team at the Middlesex Health System which is a major employer and critical provider of care in our region. We look forward to another constructive chamber board meeting and I want to again thank Vin for hosting our group.

Thursday evening features May’s Business After Work Networking Reception at the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat facility in Essex. 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. I know our membership certainly looks forward to the Business After Work event on Thursday evening.

In addition to supporting our members and pursuing strategic economic development, the chamber also values mentoring and shaping the leaders of tomorrow. The Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Year End Celebration Picnic will be held this Friday, May 19 at the picnic grounds, Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown, and I would like to thank Helene Vartelas, Chief Executive Officer of CVH, for annually hosting this picnic for the mentors and mentees of this important community program. 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. The program provides students attending Middletown Public Schools with mentors in the community. Mentors are good listeners, and individuals who want to help young people bring out the strengths that are already there. Mentors are employees of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce member business affiliates, employees from the City of Middletown, and private individuals. I look forward to celebrating another successful year of mentoring with Program Coordinator Sylvia Webb, mentors, mentees, sponsors, supporters and friends of the program.

I want to take a moment to mention a terrific surprise retirement party which honored Phil Pessina on May 6th at Baci Grill. Phil served in the Middletown Police Department for 33 ½ years, retiring in November of 2006, and just recently retired from the Southern Connecticut State University Police Department where he served as the Deputy Chief of Police and the Incident Management Team Planning Chief. Phil also serves on the Middletown Common Council, and has been a terrific supporter of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce for many years. I enjoyed the event, congratulate him on his retirement, and thank him for his service.

With summer fast approaching, members should be prepared for a full calendar of events and activities taking place throughout Middlesex County. In the month of June, our Annual Awards Dinner will be held on Wednesday, June 7 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, a Business After Work networking reception, hosted by Mattabesett Canoe Club in Middletown, will be held on June 12 from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm., and the 20th Annual Cruise Night on Main Street will be held on Wednesday, June 14 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. In July, our Business After Work networking reception will be hosted by Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell on July 12, and the Citizen Bank 5K Summer Fun Run will be held on Wednesday, July 19 in downtown Middletown. Rounding out the summer events, the 12th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania will be held on August 9, 2017, and our Business After Work will be held at Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook on August 22. I will certainly share much more on these major events as we get closer, but members should be sure to save the dates.

It may be a bit cooler than we would like, but the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County.  

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