Recapping some important business events

October 16, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

A busy October continues this week in Middlesex County, but before looking ahead, I would like to begin this week’s column by recapping a few important events that took place last week.

2017 Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Showcase, was a very successful all-day affair at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell on Wednesday. The showcase featured a number of events and activities, from a Small Business Awards Luncheon honoring many of our county’s small business champions, a Career Fair with over 50 employers and hundreds of job seekers, to the showcase hall featuring over 100 exhibitors from a wide variety of industry sectors, a number of workshops which covered a variety of important topics, and the Executive Evening Business After Work networking reception which was very well attended by our members and their guests. I would like to once again thank our presenting sponsors, Comcast Business and the Radisson Hotel Cromwell, media partner Hartford Business Journal, and all of our other sponsors and supporters for their great support of Connecticut Connections. I also want to thank our Connections Committee, led by Chairman Lou Brockett, our many volunteers, and the chamber staff who stepped up once again and executed a terrific event. Chamber Vice President Johanna Bond has been our lead events coordinator for many years now. She did another outstanding job putting this day together and I continue to appreciate her efforts, and the efforts of my entire team. This year’s Connecticut Connections is in the books, but the chamber continues to move forward in support of the business community here in Middlesex County.

On Thursday afternoon of last week, I joined chamber Chairman Rick Morin, Vice Chairman Jay Polke, and Haddam First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo at a Two Year Anniversary celebration for Whole Harmony Apothecary in Haddam. Whole Harmony Apothecary offers award winning hand crafted artisan teas prepared by Stacey Wood and David Soule. Their teas are available at their store in Haddam and across Connecticut.  I would like to officially welcome the Whole Harmony team to chamber membership, and wish them continued success as we move forward.

To close out the work week, last Friday featured a meeting of the Chester, Deep River and Essex Division which included remarks from the candidates for First Selectman in each of these important member towns. I would like to thank Camp Hazen for hosting the meeting, and the candidates for attending to discuss their respective platforms with our members.

Finally, on Saturday, I visited the campus of Wesleyan University for the Salute to Service: Honoring our Veterans festivities. The day featured a brunch for veterans & Wesleyan Posse veteran scholars, and an exciting football game between Wesleyan and Bates. I congratulate President Michael Roth and his entire team on a job well done.

This week also features some important division meetings, including a meeting of our South Middletown Division on Tuesday morning at Village at South Farms, and our Durham and Middlefield Division at the Lyman Homestead on Wednesday.

On Thursday, our Board of Directors will make its annual October visit to Greenwald Industries in Chester. I want to take a moment to thank Greenwald’s Managing Director, and past Chamber Chairman, Len Samela, for hosting our group once again. We look forward to another productive meeting.

Prior to attending the chamber board meeting on Thursday, I will attend a meeting of Workforce Alliance’s Executive Committee where we will continue our discussions on developing a prepared productive workforce in our state. The chamber is proud of its relationship with Workforce Alliance, and of its ongoing work to connect job seekers to employers in our region.

This week closes on Friday evening with a visit to The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford for an event in honor of UConn legend Dee Rowe who was recently awarded the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame.  Dee Rowe is a terrific man who has been critical to the development of UConn over his 48 years of service to the school. I look forward to celebrating with him and his family on Friday night.

Even though October still has plenty of life left in it, the chamber team is already planning for the month of November as well. Chamber members and other interested individuals should save the date of November 6 for our 16th Annual Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting. This major chamber event, sponsored by Middlesex Hospital, will feature Colonel Christopher H. Beckert, Director at Center for Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, PA., as Keynote Speaker. Colonel Beckert, the son of past chamber Chairman John Beckert, has a terrific military resume which includes among a number of other distinctions, service as Aide-de-Camp for the Commanding General at Fifth Corps in Heidelberg, Germany, and as Strategic Advisor for Leader Development in the Pentagon to the 36th and 37th Army Chiefs of Staff. We look forward to welcoming Chris back to Middlesex County, and are certainly excited about his remarks. Each year as a key component of this event, the chamber presents the prestigious William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award to a local Veteran of the United States Armed Forces, in recognition of his or her distinguished service to the citizens of Connecticut and selfless commitment to public service. I am proud to announce that this year’s winner is Thomas Goglia of Middletown. Tom Goglia is a proud veteran who served our country with distinction. He also has a remarkable record of community service and is a deserving recipient of this prestigious award. We look forward to honoring him at this year’s Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting on November 6th. I will continue to share important details about the Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting as we approach the event.

The chamber team is also gearing up for our November Business After Work Networking Reception and annual Festival of Wreaths Silent Auction on Wednesday, November 8th, for members and their guests at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam.  The Riverhouse team always puts out a delicious spread of food and drink, and this event always features outstanding networking and a huge crowd.  The highlight of the evening will be the Festival of Wreaths Silent Auction featuring beautifully decorated artificial wreaths which will be displayed for viewing and bidding until the auction closes at 6:45 p.m.  The funds that are raised from the auction will benefit the Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, and the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program.  Liberty Bank donated the artificial wreaths for chamber member businesses to decorate, and we certainly appreciate that. We look forward to a fun evening in Haddam on November 8, and I thank Jim Bucko and the entire Riverhouse team for once again hosting this outstanding annual event.

Before wrapping up, I want to take a moment to congratulate Cromwell officials, especially Mayor Enzo Faienza, Town Manager Tony Salvatore, Town Planner Stuart Popper, and the Town Council, on the recent announcement that Scannell Properties of Indiana intends to construct a warehouse on a 28.77-acre parcel of land in the northern section of town. The chamber looks forward to being a constructive partner as this process moves forward.

I am afraid I must close this week’s chamber column on a sad note after the recent passing of Robert E. “Bob” Coleman at the age of 91. Bob Coleman was a longtime chamber member and supporter, and a strong supporter of mine during my coaching days at Xavier High School. Bob Coleman was of course widely known as President of the Coleman Brothers Shows, a traveling carnival that his father Richard started in 1916. Under Bob’s leadership, the shows became a true family affair, and the Middletown show which takes place every April is a local institution that is cherished by Middletown residents and visitors. In addition to the annual rain that comes with the carnival in Middletown, the show brings good cheer, good food, and a lot of fun for people of all ages. In addition to this outstanding legacy, Bob also played center field for the New York Giants in the late 1940’s, and was a member of the American Legion Hall of Fame, President of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, and a Lifetime Member of the Elks and of the 100 Club. He was a terrific man who led a life well lived, and I’m grateful for his support. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bob’s wife Rachael, his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and his entire network of family and friends at this difficult time. Robert E. “Bob” Coleman will be missed by many.

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