February 12, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
February is moving right along in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.
Before looking ahead to what is another busy week for the chamber calendar, I would like to take a moment to thank Comcast for hosting members of our staff and Board of Directors at the Around the World Olympics Influencer Event held at the brand new Middletown Xfinity store on Jan. 25th. The event featured an insider’s look at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korean, and a tour of the new Xfinity store which really looks outstanding. Our chamber works closely with Comcast on a number of different events and initiatives throughout the year, and we continue to appreciate their strong support.
Middletown was a buzz with excitement last week after word came down that the city was one of five Connecticut winners of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Working Cities Challenge. The Working Cities Challenge is a competition for Connecticut communities to improve the lives of low- and moderate-income residents. The five cities will each receive multiyear grants of $450,000 to support programs designed to bolster economic equality and workforce development in the cities. The Middletown Working Cities Challenge initiative seeks to decrease poverty rates among single heads of household in Middletown, through employment opportunities, strategic coalition building and targeted systems change. The chamber is proud to be represented on the Core Team for the Middletown WCC initiative and looks forward to being a constructive partner moving forward. I would like to thank everyone who supported Middletown’s application for their hard work, and especially The Connection and Middlesex United Way for doing a great job in their role as “co-leads” for this project, and Mayor Dan Drew and Councilman Gerry Daley for providing important leadership from the City of Middletown. We have a lot of work to do as we move forward, but it is indeed important and meaningful work.
As I noted earlier, this week is another busy one for the chamber team and for the chamber calendar. On Tuesday morning, the latest installment of the KeyBank Workshop Series will take place from 8-10:00 a.m. at our Main Street office. Chamber Chairman Rick Morin will lead an informative program titled, 2018 Business Tax Law Update. Attendees will learn about Federal Tax Changes that will impact the business community in 2018 and beyond. This seminar will cover in detail the latest relevant and accurate tax information while providing those in attendance with practical tips and best practices. In addition to Rick, who is doing a terrific job as chairman, I would like to once again thank KeyBank for sponsoring this important workshop series. We look forward to another productive session. Also on Tuesday, I look forward to attending a meeting of the Connecticut Culture and Tourism Advisory Committee at DECD’s offices in Hartford. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce has always counted tourism as a key economic driver in our region and throughout our state. I look forward to meeting with my fellow committee members as we continue our work to make Connecticut a key tourism hub in the northeast United States.
Wednesday features a meeting of our Durham and Middlefield Division at A Second Chance CPR and First Aid Training in Durham, and meetings of our Business and Education Advisory Council and Distinguished Citizen Committee at the chamber office. The Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council continues to serve as a link between member businesses and educational leaders from Middlesex County Schools, and the Distinguished Citizen Committee reviews nominations and ultimately selects the recipients of our annual Distinguished Citizen Award. On Thursday, I will attend the monthly meeting of the Workforce Alliance Executive Committee where we will continue our discussions on developing a prepared productive workforce in our state. Workforce Alliance is committed to delivering employment solutions that connect people with jobs or training, and employers with skilled workers in South Central CT. The chamber is proud of its relationship with Workforce Alliance and we will continue to work to connect job seekers to employers in our region. Thursday also features the February meeting of the chamber’s Board of Directors which will be held at the Middletown Elks Lodge. Our board, which is truly representative of the business community in Middlesex County, will cover a variety of topics including the legislative session, economic development projects underway in our region, and much more. We look forward to another productive meeting of this important group.
Speaking of the legislative session, the chamber’s 2018 Legislative Breakfast will take place this Friday morning at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell. This event, sponsored by Comcast, will feature legislators that represent the 15 Middlesex County towns in the State Senate and in the House of Representatives. The Legislative Breakfast represents a great opportunity, on an annual basis, for our members to network with these important elected leaders. We look forward to another successful event and I want to thank all of the legislators that plan to attend along with the many chamber members from a wide variety of industry sectors that plan to participate. I would also like to take a moment to thank Comcast for their annual support of the Legislative Breakfast, and for their longtime support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the many events and activities that are scheduled or in the planning phase, the chamber team continues to gear up for our February Member Breakfast Meeting featuring Pratt & Whitney’s President of Military Engines, Matthew Bromberg, which is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 26, at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. In this key leadership role at the company, Mr. Bromberg oversees development, production, and support of the company’s military offerings. As I have noted many times, Pratt & Whitney is a key player in our nation’s defense, a major employer in our state and in Middlesex County, and is an outstanding corporate citizen. I appreciate their support and look forward to a great Member Breakfast Meeting on Feb. 26. Immediately following the Pratt & Whitney breakfast, the chamber will partner with the CT. Dept. of Labor on an Informational Session for Manufacturers which will focus on building solutions to the talent gap within this critical industry sector. We look forward to a productive morning on Feb. 26 in Cromwell, and will certainly have additional information on the event’s content as we get closer.
In addition to the busy morning at the Radisson, Monday, Feb. 26 also features a number of other important chamber meetings and events. Excitement continues to build for our February Business After Work Networking Reception at the Sheraton Hartford South Hotel in Rocky Hill. In addition to a great spread of food and drink for our members and their guests, this event, which runs from 5-7 p.m., will feature outstanding networking and will provide our friends at the Sheraton Hartford South with the opportunity to showcase their terrific facility. This has become a very popular annual event for our chamber, and I want to once again thank General Manager Lori Brooks, Director of Sales and Marketing Gina Molde, Senior Business Travel Sales Manager Ken Gribbon, Executive Chef Jim Oswald, and their entire team for hosting our group once again. I know our members, our staff, and other chamber partners look forward to a fun and productive evening in Rocky Hill.
Two important sessions will take place immediately prior to the Business After Work at the Sheraton. Beginning at 4p.m., Economic Development professionals from Middlesex County and across the state will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of Business Counselors on the many services provided by the Connecticut Small Business Development Center (CTSBDC), and our Health Care Council will host a session focusing on Retaining a Workforce through Engagement in a Growing Economy. I will continue to share updated information as we get closer to this busy and productive day on Feb. 26.
I am afraid I must unfortunately close this week’s column on another sad note as we remember the life of William (Bill) Holley, Jr. who passed away at his home on Jan. 30 at the age of 85. Bill Holley was a great man who dedicated his life to education in our region and in our state. He taught science, math and physical education in Tolland for ten years early in his career, and went on to serve as Vice Principal of Woodrow Wilson High School in 1970 and as Principal of both Wilson Junior High School and Middletown High School in subsequent years. Bill served in a variety of coaching capacities throughout his life and was an active member in a number of professional education focused associations. I got to know Bill well through his work with the Southern Connecticut State University Alumni Association while I was Chairman of the Connecticut State University system. I know he was honored to receive the SCSU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001, an award that was well deserved. Bill Holley was liked and admired by all who knew him. His family should be proud of a life that was truly well lived. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Joan, his two sons, his sister, his grandchildren and his entire family at this difficult time. I got to know his sons, Bill and Patrick, who were both great student athletes at Xavier High School. Bill was an outstanding football player for me and went on to play in the Ivy League for Harvard University. William Holley Jr. will be missed by many.