On the Move with Larry McHugh


Larry McHugh, President of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce writes the weekly column "On The Move," published in The Middletown Press. The column focuses on the business community and the economic environment in Middlesex County. Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce events and grand openings are a regular feature of the column.

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 www.durhamfair.com. 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 http://www.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 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 www.middlesexchamber.com.

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat hosts this month’s networking event

September 12, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

In clear sign that the summer is winding down and the fall is approaching, football season is underway and the baseball pennant races are heating up. I look forward to taking a trip up to Fenway Park tonight to enjoy a big game between the Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles. Past chamber Chairman Anthony Assante purchased the tickets during the auction portion of the chamber’s Golf Tournament which was held in May. My good friend Albert Hamrah secured the tickets and will join us for the game. I appreciate Albert and Anthony’s long-time friendship, and long-time support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.


Our First Niagara Seminar Series continues on Tuesday morning with a session on Engagement Networking - Especially at a Trade Show. Attendees will learn how to pursue more meaningful and productive connections with people they meet at networking events and trade shows. Ellen Ornato and Jenny Drescher of ConnectAnd Improv will lead this fast-paced, impactful and fun skill-building session. Our First Niagara Seminar Series has been very successful throughout 2016, and I again want to thank New England Regional President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team for their strong and continuing support.

The chamber’s Automotive Council will meet Tuesday evening at the Cantina Café Ristorante, 74 Court Street, Middletown at 6:00 p.m. The group will be joined by Commissioner Michael Bzdyra of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles for a discussion on the many important issues facing our auto dealers, repair shops and other members in the industry. I appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to attend and continue to appreciate the leadership of council co-chairs Michael Turner of Turner Automotive and Rich Jukonski of Jukonski Truck Sales.

The September meeting of the chamber’s Durham and Middlefield Division will take place on Wednesday morning on the historic Durham Fairgrounds. Durham Fair President Dan Miramant will provide a preview of this year’s fair which is scheduled for September 22-25. As I noted last week, Dan and his committed volunteers have been hard at work preparing for this year’s fair, the 97th in its rich history, and we certainly appreciate their efforts. The Durham Fair was recently recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s Best of Connecticut issue as the Best Country Fair, something we have known for quite some time. The fair continues to provide four days of good clean wholesome fun. From entertainment headliners like Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, to Foreigner and Old Dominion, to livestock barns featuring prize-winning animals, to the educational Discovery Tent, to arts and crafts and a number of shopping options, the Durham Fair has it all. The Fair will also once again feature an array of food options, a number of games, and outstanding events and activities. As I have noted many times and will continue to note, 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 www.durhamfair.com. I look forward to seeing everyone on the Fairgrounds!

The chamber will be well represented at the One MacDonough Place Annual Open House Reception this Wednesday evening. One MacDonough Place continues to provide excellent care to its residents and continues to be a strong member of our organization. We wish them the best for a successful Open House Reception.

Thursday is a busy day for the chamber team as the calendar features meetings of the Transportation Committee, Board of Directors and the Tourism Steering Committee. In addition to those important meetings, the chamber’s September Business After Work Networking Reception will be held at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex from 5-7 p.m. This event will of course feature a terrific spread of food and drink for members and their guests, and as always, the best networking around. The Valley Railroad Company, operating 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 President Kevin Dodd and the entire team is doing to help ensure that Middlesex County continues to be a great place to live, work and play. Our membership certainly looks forward to this unique Business After Work event this Thursday evening.

The chamber’s September Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for this Friday morning, Sept. 16 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Guest speaker for this event is Pratt & Whitney President Bob Leduc. Bob Leduc has held numerous senior executive roles over 38 years at United Technologies Corp., as President of Sikorsky in 2015, and is currently serving as President of Pratt & Whitney since January 2016. As I have noted many times over the years, Pratt & Whitney is an extremely important employer and corporate citizen in Middletown, in Middlesex County, and in the State of Connecticut. In addition to the company’s direct contributions to the state’s economy and to our national security, Pratt & Whitney’s operations are also critical to a large number of supplier companies and other support operations. We very much appreciate Pratt & Whitney’s support of our chamber and of our state, and are honored to welcome Mr. Leduc to this chamber Member Breakfast Meeting. Those interested in attending the event can register online at www.middlesexchamber.com. The chamber’s 2016 Membership Drive will kick off immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting on Sept. 16. The membership drive will run through October 11th. Our staff looks forward to partnering with a number of committed chamber volunteers as we collectively work to invite more businesses in our service area and beyond to join our organization.

I want to take a moment to recognize that the Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial Dedication Ceremony will be held this Saturday, September 17 at Veterans Memorial Park. The event will feature a 65K run for the Fallen-CT, the opportunity to meet military and Gold Star families, music, and other demonstrations of patriotism throughout the day. The Dedication Ceremony and 65K Finish Line will be presented by keynote speaker, former Navy SEAL Officer, Chris Fussell, who was Aide-de-Camp to then-Lieutenant GEN Stanley McChrystal during his final year commanding the Joint Special Operations Command. I wish the entire Trees of Honor Memorial team nothing but success for this important event and beyond.

I am excited to announce that the chamber’s 2016 Business to Business Expo will take place on Tuesday, October 11 at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell. The chamber’s Expo, one of our signature events, will feature a hall with over 110 exhibitors from a wide variety of industry sectors, workshops on important topics such as energy choice and sustainability solutions, women in leadership and developing young professionals, and much more. Expo will also feature the Middlesex County Health and Wellness Fair, the Middlesex County Career Fair, and the 5th Annual Small Business Awards Luncheon. I am proud to announce that this year’s honorees 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; Minority Owned Business of the Year, Tonia’s Tailoring, Middletown; Outstanding New Business Under 5 Years, iCRV Radio, Essex; Retail Business of the Year, Malloves Jewelers, Middletown; Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year, Nehemiah Brainerd House, 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. We look forward to celebrating their success on October 11. I will have much more on the 2016 Business to Business Expo as we get closer, but please be sure to save the date.

I want to take a moment as we close this week’s column to honor the 15th Anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country. All of us who lived through 9/11 will never forget that terrible day when we lost so many of our fellow citizens. We should also never forget the shows of patriotism, togetherness, and sense of a common purpose that we all experienced in the aftermath of the attacks. We will always remember those we lost, and will continue to move forward as a strong and free United States of America.

Summer may be coming to a close, but the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com.

Labor Day well-deserved day of rest for Middlesex County workers

September 6, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Today, we celebrate Labor Day in Middlesex County and around our great nation. Labor Day is designed to provide a day of rest for working men and women, but it also represents the traditional end of summer and serves as an ideal time to chart a path for the rest of the year. The chamber's far-reaching membership, 2,125 businesses that employ nearly 50,000 people, allows me to observe the outstanding diversity in the Middlesex County workforce. The men and women of the Middlesex community not only provide the economic productivity that allows us to maintain a high standard of living, but they give back each and every day, and provide a great example for our young people. Despite the many differences in occupations, there is a definite common theme among those in our county and statewide workforce, everyone works hard. A job in any field requires a personal commitment and a lot of time and effort. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce has continued to implement successful workforce development programs throughout the past year. As a result of our great working relationships with a number of key partners, the chamber is able to serve as a bridge that connects job seekers to employers. A strong workforce is the key to a strong economy, and the chamber is proud of its workforce development initiatives. Enjoy your Labor Day Middlesex County, but let us not forget our fellow citizens who are currently looking for work. 

This first full week of September is packed with a number of chamber division and committee meetings. Our Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Committee will meet tomorrow at 8 a.m. in the chamber conference room. This group is charged with planning and executing the chamber’s annual Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting which is always a huge event for our organization. This year’s event is scheduled for Monday, November 7, 2016 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell with guest speaker Captain Paul Whitescarver, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine Base New London. We look forward to another outstanding Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans event and continue to appreciate the good work of this important committee which is led by its Chairman, Phil Cacciola.

Wednesday morning features meetings of the chamber’s Portland and East Hampton Division and the Environment, Land Use and Energy Committee. The division meeting, to be held at Portland Library, will feature local updates from key municipal officials and chamber members. The chamber’s divisions continue to be a vital link to our member towns and to each individual local business community within our service area.

The Environment, Land Use, and Energy Committee is comprised of attorneys, engineers, environmental specialists, developers and other professionals. The committee focuses on important environment, land use and energy issues that have a direct impact on the business community in Middlesex County. This committee, as all of our industry based groups do, also continues to be an important piece of the chamber’s infrastructure.

Following the division meeting in Portland, I look forward to joining Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield for the Grand Opening Celebration of Waterview Wellness Center on Portland Cobalt Road in Portland. The team at Waterview is a group of dedicated and professional practitioners providing compassionate care to assist clients on their journey to wellness. I look forward to the event and wish them nothing but success moving forward.

Our Cromwell Division meets on Thursday morning at The Mattabassett District's Water Pollution Control Facility. The Cromwell Division, under the leadership of Chairman Jay Polke, is a very strong chamber sub-group and we look forward to another full meeting of updates and reports.

Finally, our Chester, Deep River and Essex Division will meet this Friday at Tri-Town Youth Services where Betsey Chadwick, director of the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC), will provide an update on the many initiatives she has engaged in over the past few months.

All of this, combined with a meeting of the Prevention Committee on Thursday morning, makes for a busy week for the chamber team. We continue to be on the move in support of our membership and of the business community in Middlesex County.

The chamber’s September Business After Work Networking Reception will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex from 5-7 p.m. This event will feature a terrific spread of food and drink for members and their guests, and as always, the best networking around. The Valley Railroad Company, operating the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, has been serving the lower Connecticut River Valley since 1971. The company’s mission is to keep alive the rich mechanical, industrial, and transportation heritage of our state through the ongoing operation of vintage steam and diesel locomotives, passenger coaches, and the facilities and infrastructure that support these. 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, Rob Galiette, 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 on Sept. 15.

Our September Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Friday morning, Sept. 16 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Guest speaker for this event is Pratt & Whitney President Bob Leduc. As I noted last week, Pratt & Whitney is an extremely important employer and corporate citizen in Middletown, in Middlesex County, and in the State of Connecticut. In addition to the company’s direct contributions to the state’s economy and to our national security, Pratt & Whitney’s operations are also critical to a large number of supplier companies and other support operations. Bob Leduc has been President of Pratt & Whitney since January 2016. He has held numerous senior executive roles over 38 years at United Technologies Corp., most recently as President of Sikorsky in 2015. We very much appreciate Pratt & Whitney’s support of our chamber and of our state, and are honored to welcome Mr. Leduc to this chamber Member Breakfast Meeting. Those interested in attending the event can register online at www.middlesexchamber.com.

The chamber’s 2016 Membership Drive will kick off immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting on Sept. 16. I will have much more on this important initiative for our chamber in next week’s column, but our staff is already working hard on the planning.

September is also the home of the Durham Fair, a major event for Middlesex County and the State of Connecticut. The 97th Durham Fair will be held from September 22-25 on the famous fairgrounds in the heart of Durham. Durham Agricultural Fair Association President Dan Miramant and his team of committed volunteers have been hard at work preparing for the week, and we certainly appreciate their efforts. The Durham Fair continues to provide four days of good clean wholesome fun and was recently recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s Best of Connecticut edition. From entertainment headliners like Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, to Foreigner and Old Dominion, to livestock barns featuring prize-winning animals, to the educational Discovery Tent, to arts and crafts and a number of shopping options, the Durham Fair has it all. The Fair will also once again feature an array of food options, a number of games, and outstanding events and activities. As I have noted many times and will continue to note, 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 www.durhamfair.com. I look forward to seeing everyone on the Fairgrounds!

Labor Day in upon us in Middlesex County, the summer is winding down, but the chamber team is just getting warmed up.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com.

State to offer Route 9 signal removal project update in Middletown

August 29, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Last week was a busy one in Middlesex County highlighted by a chamber Board of Directors meeting and a terrific chamber Member Breakfast Meeting. The board meeting, sponsored by DATTCO, was held at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex on Tuesday afternoon. The meeting featured a great spread of food, productive networking amongst our board members, reports from chamber committee chairs and key staff, and a look ahead to a busy fall season for our organization. I want to again thank both the Valley Railroad Company and DATTCO for supporting this important summer gathering for our Board of Directors. Essex Steam Train and Riverboat/Valley Railroad Co. president Kevin Dodd and DATTCO President Don Devivo both offered remarks that focused on the importance of tourism to our regional economy and to our lifestyle. We are fortunate to have both of these companies as active members of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and I thank them both for their outstanding support.

The chamber’s August Member Breakfast Meeting with UConn Head Football Coach Bob Diaco, sponsored by People’s United Bank, was held last Thursday morning at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Coach Diaco is clearly excited about the vibe around the football program this year, and his enthusiasm for his players, his coaches and the game of football is truly inspirational. Our friend Mike Casparino, who serves as Northern Connecticut President at People’s, did a fine job introducing the coach one again, and we continue to appreciate his strong and ongoing support.

I look forward to attending a Grand Reopening celebration for Red Fox Restaurant & Bar on Smith Street in Middletown on Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. I will join Deputy Mayor Bob Santangelo and Middletown Small Business Development Center Counselor Paul Dodge to celebrate the recent expansion of Red Fox with Fico and Zumra Cecunjanin and their team. Red Fox has been very busy since it opened in May of 2015, and we appreciate it support of our chamber and its commitment to Middletown.

 This week also features a few important meetings for our chamber. A Mandatory Program Orientation and Application Submission Meeting for Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Side Street to Main Street Minority Business & Leadership Development Program will be held on Wednesday, August 31 at 7 p.m. in the chamber conference room. The program is a year-long entrepreneurial and business development course with a rigorous curriculum that is designed to assist minority small business owners in the community who have not had formal business training. The goal of the program is to help these businesspeople become more successful by developing the attitudes, skills and qualities necessary for effective business ownership, and success, taking them from the Side Street to the Main Street of the business community. To participate, all interested candidates must attend the Mandatory Program Orientation Meeting, and submit a completed Application for the Program scheduled to begin its 20th year on October 4, 2016. Since its inception in 1997, over 235 people have graduated from the Side Street to Main Street Minority Business & Leadership Development Program which has been fully funded and supported by Aetna, Inc. We are extremely proud of this program, it has indeed, been a successful and effective way in which we have encouraged the development and growth of small, minority-owned businesses, which are now part of the greater Middlesex County business community. To register for the Mandatory Program Orientation Meeting and Application Submission, visit www.middlesexchamber.com or email: jennifer@middlesexchamber.com.

The chamber’s Central Business Bureau will meet on Thursday morning in the chamber conference room at 7:30 a.m. In addition to brief but important reports from key City of Middletown officials, the meeting will feature a presentation by DOT personnel on the Route 9 Signal Removal Project. Will Britnell, P.E., Principal Engineer of the State Highway Design Unit; Matt Vail, Project Manager of the Bureau of Engineering and Construction; and Erik Jarboe, P.E., Project Engineer of the State Highway Design Unit, will visit with our downtown-based members to discuss the current status of the planning for the project and how the proposed changes will affect access to downtown Middletown. Will, Matt and Eric, along with DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker, have been accessible, upfront and very professional throughout this entire process. We certainly appreciate their willingness to visit with our CBB on Thursday morning. This meeting is for Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce members only.

As the summer approaches its conclusion, the chamber team is gearing up for a busy fall season full of events and activities. The chamber’s county based divisions, and many of our industry based committees, will resume a normal meeting schedule following a summer hiatus. Next week features meetings of the chamber’s Environment, Land Use and Energy Committee, Cromwell Division, and Down County Division which includes Chester, Deep River, and Essex.

Our September Business After Work Networking Reception will be held on Thursday, Sept. 15th at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex from 5- 7 p.m. This event will feature a terrific spread of food and drink for members and their guests, and as always, the best networking around. Our membership certainly looks forward to this fun event which will be held at one of the top tourist attractions in the state of Connecticut. I appreciate the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat team hosting this event, and once again thank them for their support of our chamber and their commitment to Middlesex County.

It will be a quick turnaround for the chamber team as our September Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Friday morning, Sept. 16th at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Guest speaker for this important event is Pratt & Whitney President Bob Leduc. Pratt & Whitney is an extremely important employer and corporate citizen in Middletown, in Middlesex County, and in the State of Connecticut. Bob Leduc has been President of Pratt & Whitney since January 2016. He has held numerous senior executive roles over 38 years at United Technologies Corp., most recently as President of Sikorsky in 2015. We very much appreciate Pratt & Whitney’s support of our chamber and of our state and are honored to welcome Mr. Leduc to this chamber Member Breakfast Meeting.

The chamber’s 2016 Membership Drive will kick off immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting on Sept. 16th. I will have much more on this important initiative for our chamber as we move into the month of September, but our staff is already working hard on the planning.

September is also the home of the Durham Fair, a major event for Middlesex County and the State of Connecticut. The 97th Durham Fair will be held from September 22 – 25 on the famous fairgrounds in the heart of Durham. Durham Agricultural Fair Association President Dan Miramant and his team of committed volunteers have been hard at work preparing for the week, and we certainly appreciate their efforts. The Durham Fair continues to provide four days of good clean wholesome fun and was recently recognized in Connecticut Magazine’s Best of Connecticut edition. From entertainment headliners like Foreigner and Old Dominion, to livestock barns featuring prize-winning animals, to the educational Discovery Tent, to arts and crafts and a number of shopping options, the Durham Fair has it all. The Fair will also once again feature an array of food options, a number of games, and outstanding events and activities. Durham Fair Marketing Director Debbie Huscher did a fine job providing a fair update at our Member Breakfast Meeting with Coach Diaco last Thursday. 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 www.durhamfair.com.

I would like to close this week’s column by acknowledging and honoring the passing of Hortense “Hortie” Kabel who passed away recently at the age of 89. Hortie Kabel was a terrific person and a strong and longtime supporter of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. She was the owner of Kabels Luggage and Gift Shop Inc. in Middletown and other locations for an amazing 47 years. She was also a terrific supporter of a number of community initiatives including her service as a committed volunteer for Middlesex Hospital Hospice. She was a chairperson of our Central Business Bureau, the first woman to ever hold that position, and was honored with our Distinguished Citizen Award in 1993. Hortie will certainly be missed by all of us who knew her, but we can take comfort in the fact that she led a life that was well lived. Our thoughts and prayers are with her entire family at this difficult time. I know they are proud of Hortie’s life and legacy.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com. .

August member meeting features UConn coach Bob Diaco

August 22, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Downtown Middletown was rocking last Wednesday evening as the 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania was held on Main Street and the surrounding areas. The event, featuring over 6000 bikes and over 10,000 spectators, was presented by Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines & the Hunter Family, and driven by Haymond Law. Middletown Motorcycle Mania is held annually in honor of one of its founding sponsors, Dan M. Hunter.


The entertainment was terrific, the vendors did very well, the restaurants were packed, and everyone enjoyed this year’s Motorcycle Mania which defended its title as the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England. The show bikes that were entered for awards were unbelievable, and I am happy that the Greater Middletown region was well represented once again when the bike awards were presented. 

In addition to Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines, the Hunter Family, and Haymond Law, event sponsors also included: City of Middletown, Middletown Downtown Business District, Liberty Bank, Bank of America, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Gengras Motorcycles, Home Team Supply, All American Productions, Middlesex Music Academy, Lyman Orchards Golf Club, Mezzo Grille, Middletown Area Transit, First & Last Tavern, Untouchable Towing, and WMRD/WLIS Radio. I would like to again thank all of our sponsors for their terrific support of this major event.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the fine work of the City of Middletown personnel that worked to make it a safe and enjoyable evening for everyone. From Director Bill Russo and the team at Middletown Public Works Department, to Geen Thazhampallath and the team at the Parking Department, to Chief Rob Kronenberger, Fire Marshal Al Santostefano and the entire Middletown Fire Department, and all of the emergency services personnel, everyone did a truly professional job. I want to especially thank the Middletown Police Department who worked very well with our staff and volunteers to make sure that the event was secure and well organized. All of the officers and support staff were extremely helpful once again, and we appreciate it very much. I thank Chief Bill McKenna, Deputy Chief Mike Timbro, Sgt. Dave Godwin, and the entire MPD for their support of the 11th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania. A special thank you also goes out to Mayor Dan Drew and members of the Common Council for their continued support of all of our downtown events. I want to be sure to acknowledge my staff at the chamber who worked hard all day and shut down the chamber office after 9 p.m. when Motorcycle Mania wrapped up. Johanna Bond and Cathy Duncan worked particularly hard on the bike event and I appreciate all of their efforts. Finally, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Event Chairman Rich Greco and our over 30 volunteers for their unbelievable support of Motorcycle Mania. This event could not happen without our volunteers and we appreciate them very much. Another successful Middletown Motorcycle Mania is in the books, and we are truly grateful for the total team effort that made it possible.

This week is another busy one for the chamber team highlighted by a Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday and our August Member Breakfast Meeting on Thursday. The board meeting, sponsored by DATTCO, will be held at the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat facility in Essex. I thank both the Valley Railroad Company and DATTCO for supporting this important summer gathering for our Board of Directors. The meeting will feature reports from chamber members and key staff, a networking lunch, and other important board business.

The chamber’s August Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, Aug. 25 with University of Connecticut Head Football Coach Bob Diaco. This annual event, sponsored by People’s United Bank, will feature an update from the coach on the upcoming season of Husky football which begins on Thursday, Sept. 1 vs. University of Maine. Coach Diaco has also been known to provide some inspirational remarks to our membership, along with some thoughts on leadership and his management style. We certainly look forward to welcoming Coach Diaco to his third Member Breakfast Meeting as leader of the UConn Football Program. I thank him once again for speaking to our membership and thank our friends at People’s United Bank, under the leadership of Northern Connecticut President Mike Casparino, for their sponsorship of what we expect to be another successful chamber Member Breakfast Meeting.

I look forward to attending two events this coming Saturday, one which will celebrate a longtime chamber member, and one that will welcome a new one to our local business community. Tractor Supply Company will hold a grand opening celebration for its brand new store on Newfield Street in Middletown on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. Tractor Supply Company is the largest operator of rural lifestyle retail stores in the United States. The company operates over 1,500 retail stores in 49 states, and we are proud that Middletown is the home of its newest store. I appreciate the opportunity to welcome the store to the Middlesex business community, and I wish Store Manager Jeff Puglise and his team the best of luck as they get started. Connecticut Mason Contractors, Inc. will hold a 50th Anniversary Celebration at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville on Saturday evening. Connecticut Mason Contractors is a terrific company and a member of our chamber. I look forward to celebrating with Connie Buscema, Sal Indomenico, and their entire team on Saturday night.

A Mandatory Program Orientation and Application Submission Meeting for Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Side Street to Main Street Minority Business & Leadership Development Program will be held on Wednesday, August 31 at 7 p.m. in the chamber conference room. The program is a year-long entrepreneurial and business development course with a rigorous curriculum that is designed to assist minority small business owners in the community who have not had formal business training. The goal of the program is to help these businesspeople become more successful by developing the attitudes, skills and qualities necessary for effective business ownership, and success, taking them from the Side Street to the Main Street of the business community. To participate, all interested candidates must attend the Mandatory Program Orientation Meeting, and submit a completed Application for the Program scheduled to begin its 20th year on October 4, 2016. Since its inception in 1997, over 235 people have graduated from the Side Street to Main Street Minority Business & Leadership Development Program which has been fully funded and supported by Aetna, Inc. We are extremely proud of this program, it has indeed, been a successful and effective way in which we have encouraged the development and growth of small, minority-owned businesses, which are now part of the greater Middlesex County business community. To register for the Mandatory Program Orientation Meeting and Application Submission, visit www.middlesexchamber.com or email: jennifer@middlesexchamber.com.

I want to be sure to acknowledge the recent passing of two fine local individuals who both supported the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce in different ways. Anita T. Stubbings of Middletown passed away recently at the age of 81. Anita was the owner of Forest City Cleaners in Middletown for 35 years and was a longtime friend and member of our chamber. Our thoughts and prayers are with Anita’s entire family as they mourn her loss and honor her life. We certainly appreciate her longtime support of our organization. Stanley Coe Atwell, Jr. of Middlefield passed away recently at the age of 89. Stan served our country with honor in World War II with the United States Coast Guard. He served as Fire Marshal in the Town of Middlefield until his passing and was also a past chief of the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Department. In fact, Stan served as a member of the Middlefield Volunteer Fire Department for a remarkable 60 years. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce was honored to present him with our prestigious Michael L. Green Award in 1995. The Michael L. Green Award is presented annually to a member of the police or fire community for his or her outstanding service to Middlesex County. Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family at this difficult time. We are proud of and appreciate Stan’s service to our country and to our community.

Finally, last week I closed the chamber column with extensive thoughts about the passing of our friend, and longtime chamber employee, Joan Wood. I was honored to serve as master of ceremonies at a remembrance service that was held for Joan at Biega Funeral Home last Tuesday evening. I appreciate the family’s invitation to offer some remarks on the impact that Joan had on me, and on the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Joan’s longtime friend and past chamber Chairwoman Mary Ellen Klinck did a great job with her remarks, and Joan’s daughters, Susan, Sarah and Johanna, showed the strength and grace that they inherited from their mother with their moving words of remembrance. The turnout at Joan’s service and celebration of her life that was held afterward at the Riverhouse in Haddam proves how much Joan was loved, and how much she will be missed.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com.

 

Upcoming Events