UConn Basketball Coach Ollie to keynote next member breakfast

October 2, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached the month of October in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

I would like to begin this week’s column by noting just how excited the chamber was to join Mayor Dan Drew and his team as we officially welcomed three outstanding engineering companies to Middletown over the past few weeks. These companies, Belcan, QuEST Global, and Cyient, are all full of 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!

Back on the chamber front, this week features a number of important meetings and activities. Our Executive Committee, the chamber’s top governing body which is currently under the leadership of our Chairman, Rick Morin, will meet this afternoon at the chamber office in Middletown. I continue to appreciate the support of this outstanding group which is truly representative of the business community in Middlesex County. We look forward to another productive meeting which will cover a variety of topics.

On Monday evening, the City of Middletown Common Council will hold its October meeting and there are a number of important items on the agenda. The chamber will appear before the council to address a few key items. First of all, we will officially request the city’s support for the MEWS+, an exciting co-working initiative that will complement the many other economic development initiatives that are currently underway. Chamber VP Jeff Pugliese and some of our dedicated members have been working hard to develop this concept. The plan for the MEWS+, which stands for Middletown Entrepreneurs Work Space and more, is to use the currently vacant second floor at the chamber office as headquarters. The initiative will set up a series of “Meet-ups” in Middletown that will begin the process of creating a true innovation eco system in our city. We want our initiative to be a resource for freelancers and entrepreneurs, start-up businesses and small businesses, and the Wesleyan and Middlesex Community College communities. It will be a great place to start a new business or grow an existing company. As a co-working initiative, it provides not only a place to work, but also a collaborative working environment. This shared workspace environment will attract a creative class of developers, designers, strategists, artisans, writers, inventors, engineers and professional office nomads. We also expect the MEWS+ to be a bridge to the many manufacturing and engineering companies in Middlesex County. The city’s support would bolster this initiative which is already being supported by our friends and partners at Wesleyan University and Liberty Bank. We look forward to a good discussion on this important topic with the council on Monday evening. Another agenda item of importance is the proposed lease agreement between the City and Connecticut River Events, LLC, for the Lady Katharine Cruise Line’s dockage at the City’s Riverfront Harbor Park. The chamber wholeheartedly supports this lease and the partnership with The Valley Railroad Company that it brings. The Valley Railroad Company operates the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, a very popular local tourist attraction. They are looking to build a relationship with the City of Middletown, starting with the Lady Katharine. The proposed lease with Connecticut River Events, LLC, a subsidiary of The Valley Railroad Company, would provide a continuing boost to our local economy. Whether by train or by water, the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat can provide an exciting link to the rest of the county, and I urge members of the council to recognize this and to support the lease. Finally, the chamber will be on hand to officially support the approval of the naming of the men’s hardball field at Pat Kidney Field in honor of Jerome “Buzzy” Levin. Buzzy was an outstanding local businessman and a strong community supporter, and this is a fitting honor for this terrific man who passed away recently. Finally, the chamber will also support the approval of the naming of the tennis courts at Pat Kidney Field to honor Harold “Hal” Kaplan. Hal Kaplan, for whom the Middletown Mentor Program is now named, had an outstanding career in education here in Middletown. He has also supported a number of community initiatives along the way, and very much deserves to have the courts named after him. I look forward to attending what I hope is a very productive Common Council meeting on Monday night.

A busy week continues on Wednesday as our Portland and East Hampton division meets at Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant in East Hampton. This meeting will feature a Meet the Candidates Forum for the upcoming municipal elections in the towns, along with a number of other important local updates. Our Central Business Bureau meets on Thursday morning at the chamber office. This important meeting will once again feature reports from Mayor Dan Drew and the leaders of a number of city departments.

Thursday afternoon features a visit to Essex for an Open House celebration hosted by CMS, Computer Management Services. CMS, which recently moved to a new location on Plains Road, is a great company and a valued chamber member. I look forward to joining Susan and Harvey Payton and their entire team and appreciate the invitation to attend. On Thursday evening, The Middlesex Health System, Inc., will hold the Annual Meeting of its Corporators in Westbrook. This meeting will also feature the reveal of the new Cancer Center at the outstanding Shoreline Medical Center. I appreciate the continued good work of CEO Vin Capece and his team, and look forward to a nice evening on the shoreline.

The chamber’s October Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for this 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. I would like to thank the Coach for visiting with our membership, and our friends at ConnectiCare for their sponsorship of the event and longstanding support of our chamber.

Looking ahead, the Westfield Community Carnival will take place this weekend at 94 Miner St, Middletown, directly behind the Westfield Fire Department. This event, sponsored by the Third Congregational Church of Middletown and others, will feature carnival rides, games, live entertainment, craft and food vendors, a beer and wine tent, cash raffles and basket drawings, face painting, magicians, and balloon art. The carnival will take place on Friday from 5-10:00 p.m., Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12-8:00 p.m., and features free admission. For additional information, please visit https://westfieldcarnival.com/.

I want to close this week’s column by reminding everyone about Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Showcase, which 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. 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 Business Showcase will also feature workshops geared towards women in business, young professionals, the development of an innovation eco system, value based insurance design, tourism, and much, much more. The Members Only “Executive Evening” portion of the event will provide members with the opportunity to enjoy complimentary hot and cold hors d'oeuvres, wine, beer and soft drinks and to check out the many exhibitors displaying their products and services. For more information on Connecticut Connections, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com. I will have much more in next week’s column. The sun always shines in Middlesex County!


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