Middlesex County NAACP McHugh Business Award to be given Thursday

September 25, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

Autumn has arrived in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation. As the temperature cools and the leaves change, the chamber team is gearing up for another busy stretch that includes a number of important events and activities.


Before previewing the meetings and events that are scheduled for this week, and for the first few weeks of October, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the great work of the Durham Fair Association and all of its volunteers and supporters. The 98th Durham Fair provided us with four days of good, clean, wholesome fun, and it proved once again that this largest fair in the state is indeed the best fair of them all. Association President Dan Miramant and the entire Durham Fair team did a great job, and we continue to appreciate all of their hard work and dedication to this Middlesex County institution managed entirely, by unpaid volunteers. We are already looking forward to the 99th edition of the Durham Fair, and the chamber will be right there with them as they approach their 100th year.

This week features a number of important meetings as we close out the month of September. The chamber’s Westbrook Division will meet on Tuesday morning at The Captain Stannard House, a terrific Bed and Breakfast establishment and longtime member of our chamber. This is the Westbrook Division’s first meeting since its summer hiatus, and we look forward to hearing an update from Town Planner Meg Parulis as well other town and local business officials. Our Haddam and East Haddam Division meets on Thursday morning at The Saybrook at Haddam. Another longtime chamber member and supporter, the Saybrook at Haddam provides gracious retirement living, assisted living, and memory care services to residents. We look forward to welcoming officials from the CT Department of Transportation who will provide our group with an update on the new opening schedules for the East Haddam Swing Bridge. As I have noted many times, our divisions continue to play a critical role in our organization.

Tuesday afternoon features a meeting of the chief executives of the eight metro chambers of commerce in the State of Connecticut. The eight metro chambers, which make up a working group designed to collaborate on a number of important business issues, meet regularly at different locations throughout the state. This particular meeting features a visit from Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith. I look forward to another productive meeting with my fellow Connecticut chamber executives, and thank Commissioner Smith for coming to visit with us once again.

On Thursday evening, I have the honor of attending the Middlesex County NAACP Branch 32nd Freedom Fund Dinner at the Italian Society of Middletown. I am very proud that the Middlesex County NAACP Branch gives an annual business award that bears my name, and I enjoy presenting the award every year at this important event. I am proud to announce that this year’s recipient is Eversource, New England's largest energy provider, and an outstanding corporate citizen. Eversource supports a wide variety of community causes and is committed to diversity in its workforce and throughout its vast network of operations. In addition to a number of chamber events and activities, the company sponsors the Side Street to Main Street Supplemental Program Business “Know-How”, an intensive four-session Program designed to develop and support minority small business ownership in our region. Middlesex County is fortunate to have an active and engaged NAACP branch, and I value the chamber’s longtime partnership with the organization.

Looking ahead to October, the chamber’s next Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 6 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. UConn Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Ollie will serve as guest speaker for this major chamber event which is sponsored by ConnectiCare. Coach Ollie will offer a preview of this year’s Husky team, and will once again provide us with some insight on his leadership and management style. Every year, Coach Ollie provides a message that goes well beyond basketball, and we certainly look forward to another great event which will be sold out once again.

Speaking of big October events in Middlesex County, I am excited to announce that Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Showcase, will be held on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell. The general public is invited to visit with over 115 exhibitors, from a number of different industries, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The 2017 Connecticut Connections begins with Opening Ceremonies at 11 a.m., and will be immediately followed by the Sixth Annual Small Business Awards Luncheon from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.  This luncheon event is sponsored by Comcast Business, and features remarks by Commissioner Catherine Smith of the Connecticut DECD.  The 2017 Small Business of the Year Award winners are selected from a wide variety of industry sectors. I am proud to announce that this year’s winners are: Brothers Auto Body – Cromwell as Business of the Year (1-30 employees), Citizens Bank - County Wide as Business of the Year (31+ employees), Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Resort – Middlefield as Business Growth & Expansion Awardee, Whelen Engineering – Chester as Manufacturer of the Year, Dental Health Care - Gloria F. Perry, DMD – Cromwell as Minority Owned Business of the Year, Victorian Inspirations– Portland as Outstanding New Business Under 5 Years, Pocketful of Posies – Middletown, Retail Business of the Year, Ivoryton Playhouse – Ivoryton as Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year, and Charles IT – Middletown as Technology Business of the Year. I congratulate all of our small business champions, and we look forward to honoring them on Oct. 11.

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. The Middlesex County Fall Career Fair is sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Workforce Alliance, and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. 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 Annual 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 feature a Flu Vaccination Clinic (cost TBA, most insurances accepted), Blood Pressure Screenings, Balance Testing and Much More. All Health and Wellness Fair services are free unless otherwise noted. More information on the Health & Wellness Fair is available on middlesexchamber.com

Connecticut Connections will feature three first session workshops to choose from starting at 1:30 p.m.  One workshop option is the Middlesex Chamber Women’s Business Alliance Workshop:  “Striving for Excellence not Perfection” – The workshop teaches the concept that striving for excellence can really motivate and inspire you, while striving for perfection can be completely demoralizing. Another workshop option is an Energy and Vendor Forum sponsored by Eversource.  This workshop is designed to make your business more energy efficient. An additional first session workshop to choose from is Improving Employee Health: Value Based Insurance Design, which finds innovative strategies that aim to improve employee health, drive productivity and result in smarter healthcare spending. In the afternoon at 3:15 p.m. there will be a second Middlesex Chamber Women’s Business Alliance workshop: “Power Pitch & Networking Event”, which provides a quick lesson on a killer elevator pitch and then gives folks the opportunity to test out their pitch live in person. From 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Tourism Steering Committee will present a Let’s Make A Deal, package deal creation event to create package deals for tourism for the winter season.

At 4 p.m. Connecticut Chamber Health Plans will be holding an informational event on health insurance in Connecticut. New this year, is the “Middletown Entrepreneurial Workspace Plus Round-table Business & Beer.” The Middletown Entrepreneurial Workspace Plus or MEWS+ is an experimental co-working space that is being developed for entrepreneurs in Middlesex County to help better connect with existing companies and educational infrastructure that exists. This session will take place at 4:30 p.m. Two specific events will be geared towards Young Professionals including a speed networking event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. followed by a Young Professionals Trivia Event at 7:30 p.m. Exciting activities will take place throughout the day including a “Where’s Lucky Larry” Scavenger Hunt and a Photo Booth Frenzy. Professional headshots will also be available by professional photographer Walt Jedziniak. The headshots are ideal for LinkedIn, Professional Office Displays and Professional Biographies. The headshots will include digital copies and cost $50, of which $10 will be donated to Middlesex Chamber Youth Programs. The members only Octoberfest Executive Evening Event, to be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., will feature a great spread of complimentary food, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks, over 115 exhibitors, raffle prizes, and terrific networking.  Also included in the Executive Evening event is the Witch’s Brew, Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship Benefit Room. Proceeds will benefit Business Industry Foundation of Middlesex County. Chamber members can register online for Executive Evening at www.middlesexchamber.com. 

The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all Connecticut Connections sponsors for their strong support of this major event. They include Presenting Sponsors: Comcast Business, Radisson Hotel, Chamber Insurance Trust; Media Sponsor: Hartford Business Journal; Platinum Sponsors: Bouvier Insurance, Eversource Energy, Lantern Energy, Pratt & Whitney, Tower Laboratories Ltd.; Titanium Sponsors: Connecticut Lottery, People’s United Bank, Workforce Alliance; Gold Sponsors: A&A Office, Bank of America, NFP, The Mattabassett District, Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C.; Silver Sponsors: Community Health Center, DATTCO Inc., Lyman Orchards, Suburban Stationers, Xavier High School; Bronze Sponsors: A Second Chance CPR & First Aid Training LLC, Employers Association of the Northeast, Executive Offices, Suburban Office Furniture, The Durham Manufacturing Company. For more information, or to register for Connecticut Connections events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com.

I will have more on the Connecticut Connections Event in next week’s chamber column.

I would like to close this week’s column by noting just how excited the chamber is to join Mayor Dan Drew and his team as we officially welcome three outstanding engineering companies to Middletown. These companies, Belcan, QuEST Global, and Cyient, are all full of young, high performing engineers and support staff, and they are a welcome addition to the local business community. Belcan is located in the former National Paint building at the corner of Washington Street and deKoven Drive. QuEST Global and Cyient have moved into space in the upper floors of the Main Street Market. Main Street Market Owner Mike Stone was critical in this whole effort, and we appreciate his support and dedication to downtown.  Collectively, they will bring over 200 engineering jobs to the downtown area, and their economic impact will be felt throughout our region. Once again, the Pratt & Whitney Middletown Engine Center was a key factor in these companies establishing a presence in our city. We look forward to working with them as they grow and thrive right here in Middlesex County. I congratulate Mayor Drew, the Common Council, and the entire city staff on landing these important companies. As you can see, Middletown and Middlesex County are on the move!

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