Connecticut Connections business expo Wednesday offers day of activities

October 9, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

It’s October in Middlesex County, which means the time has come for Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Showcase. However, before diving into what will be a full day of events and activities on Wednesday in Cromwell, I would like to quickly address a few other important matters.

The City of Middletown Common Council held an important meeting last Monday evening at City Hall where it acted on a number of important agenda items. Chamber VP Jeff Pugliese spoke in public session to request the city’s support for a dynamic co-working initiative that will complement the many other economic development initiatives that are currently underway in Middletown. Our idea, as currently stands, is called the MEWS+. The plan for the MEWS+, which stands for Middletown Entrepreneurs Work Space and more, is to use the second floor at the chamber office as headquarters. Headquarters will also serve as the official co-working space for now. The reason that there is a plus (+) in the name, is that we expect this initiative to be much more than just a co-working space. 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. I would like to thank the council and the Mayor for supporting this initiative which is already being supported by our partners at Wesleyan University, Liberty Bank, and Middlesex Hospital. Wesleyan was especially critical to this process, and I appreciate the strong support of President Michael Roth, Vice President and Chief of Staff Andy Tanaka, Vice President for Finance and Administration Nate Peters, and their entire team. We look forward to providing students, faculty, staff, and alumni, the opportunity to engage and network with local businesspeople of all shapes and sizes, and from a variety of industry sectors. Work has already begun on developing the space and the related activities, and the chamber will continue to keep everyone appraised of our progress. The council also voted to approve 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. Middlesex County is lucky to have the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat as a key tourism stakeholder, and the chamber is proud to help the company build its important relationship with the City of Middletown.

In addition to Connecticut Connections 2017, this week also features an important event that will honor the retiring Superintendent of Schools in Middletown, Dr. Pat Charles, and an exciting Grand Opening event in Cromwell. The event for Dr. Charles is actually a Retirement Roast hosted by the Middlesex United Way which is scheduled for this Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam. Dr. Charles has done a fantastic job leading the Middletown school system, and the Westbrook school system before that, and I look forward to attending what I know will be a fun night of comedy and philanthropy in Haddam. Earlier in the day, at 4 p.m., I look forward to joining Cromwell Mayor Enzo Faienza and Town Manager Tony Salvatore at the Grand Opening celebration for Molly Maid of Central CT on Country Squire Drive. Molly Maid, which specializes in comprehensive and professional house cleaning, is a welcome addition to the local business community and to chamber membership. I look forward to celebrating with their entire team on Thursday afternoon.

I want to take a moment to mention that my wife Patty and I had a great time at J.R. Marino’s surprise birthday party which was held last Saturday night at Mattabessett Canoe Club at Harbor Park. J.R. and his wife Tamba have been longtime friends and supporters of me and of our chamber. We were happy to attend the event and appreciate their continued support.

Finally, I want to thank past chamber Chairwoman Darlene Briggs for doing an outstanding job with her remarks at a recent memorial service for T. Gerald “Gerry” Dyar. Gerry Dyar was a member of our Board of Directors, chairman of our Transportation Committee and a recipient of our 2010 Distinguished Citizen Award. He was a longtime resident of Westbrook, and was a key person who pushed for the merger of the Westbrook Chamber and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. He was a good man, and Darlene did an outstanding job honoring him at the service.

As I noted earlier, this week features 2017 Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Showcase.  Scheduled for this Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell, the showcase event will feature a full day of events and activities. 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 Department of Economic and Community Development.  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, as 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 Wednesday.

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

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, 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

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 Know it, Own it, Rock it! Workshop Series: “Striving for Excellence not Perfection.” 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. The afternoon includes a “Power Pitch & Networking Event”, a Let’s Make A Deal package deal creation event hosted by our Tourism Committee, an informational event on health insurance in Connecticut hosted by CT. Health Plans, and a 5 Minute Solution event hosted by the MEWS+. The evening features two specific events geared towards Young Professionals including a speed networking event and a Young Professionals Trivia Event. 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.  Chamber members can register online for Executive Evening at

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 Cromwell, 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, and The Durham Manufacturing Company. For more information, or to register for Connecticut Connection events and activities, please visit


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This business expo is just simply worth attending.My many rushessay collegues attended this event but as I was busy at home so could not attend this expo.