February 12, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
We have reached Presidents’ Day in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation, and you better believe that the chamber team continues to be on the move.
Last week was another busy one, capped off by our 2018 Legislative Breakfast, sponsored by Comcast, last Friday morning at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell. It was a terrific session and I want to thank the 13 legislators who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the event. They are: Senators Paul Doyle, Ted Kennedy Jr., Len Suzio, Art Linares, and Len Fasano and State Reps. Devin Carney, Joe Serra, Melissa Ziobron, Bob Siegrist, Buddy Altobello, Vin Candelora, Matt Lesser and Noreen Kokoruda. The event featured a good discussion between our members and these elected Middlesex County officials on important topics such as the state budget, transportation, energy, tourism and environmental policy. I also want to thank Comcast for sponsoring the event once again. Vice President of State Government Affairs Rob Earley did a fine job with his remarks on behalf of the company, and our Legislative Co-Chairs, Rich Carella and Maureen Westbrook, did an outstanding job as moderators. In addition to the Legislative Breakfast, the chamber also hosts a very important Legislative Leadership Series which features the leaders of each legislative caucus. This year’s series kicks off on Tuesday, March 6 at the Inn at Middletown when we welcome Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Aresimowicz. At this special meeting, Speaker Aresimowicz will visit with chamber members to discuss the 2018 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly. The chamber’s Board of Directors and Legislative Committee will have the opportunity to ask questions about the session and discuss some important issues on our 2018 Public Policy Agenda. This event is sponsored by our friends at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. We certainly look forward to a productive event and will provide additional details as we get closer. The chamber will certainly stay engaged as the legislative session moves forward.
A busy February continues this week with a number of important meetings and events. On Tuesday evening, the chamber’s Golf Committee will hold its second meeting of 2018 which will continue the planning for our 35th Annual Golf Tournament scheduled for May 4. Our East Haddam and Haddam Division meets on Thursday morning in Haddam, and our Legislative Committee meets at the chamber office on Friday morning. Friday morning also features a meeting of the MCSAAC Executive Committee at 8 a.m. at the chamber office. Established in 1991, MCSAAC, or the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council, aims to reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug abuse in our region. While MCSAAC has had to deal with major funding cuts in the past year, we look forward to a productive discussion on Friday morning that will focus on how we can continue the work of this important community based initiative as we move forward.
Looking ahead to next week on Monday, Feb. 26, excitement continues to build for our Member Breakfast Meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, featuring Pratt & Whitney’s President of Military Engines, Matthew Bromberg. In this key leadership role at the company, Matthew 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. In addition to the company’s direct contributions to the state’s economy and to our national security, Pratt & Whitney’s operations are also critical to a large number of supplier companies and other support operations. I appreciate their strong support, and look forward to a great Member Breakfast Meeting next Monday.
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. Attendees will learn about available funding opportunities and financial incentive programs including the Manufacturing Innovation Fund. Attendees will also find out how they can partner with our state’s educators to help meet the anticipated future workforce needs. We certainly look forward to a productive morning on Feb. 26 in Cromwell, and thank the CT Department of Labor for its support. 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 4:00 p.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) including Business Advising Services, Export Assistance, assistance with finding sources of financing, Disaster Preparation and Recovery, and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. We look forward to a great session with the CTSBDC and thank Emily Carter, Joe Ercolano, and their entire team for their great support of our chamber and of the business community in our region.
Also beginning at 4:00 p.m., our Health Care Council will host a session focusing on Retaining a Workforce through Engagement in a Growing Economy. The Health Care Council’s mission is to develop lines of communication between the business and health care communities, and I know the group looks forward to a productive session. As you can see, the chamber team will be cruising from morning to night next Monday.
Another busy month kicks off on Thursday, March 1 with an exciting meeting hosted by the MEWS+ at the chamber office. The MEWS+ is an exciting co-working initiative that will complement the many other economic development initiatives that are currently underway in Middletown and in Middlesex County. 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 and as the Co-Working/Collaborative Space. We want our initiative to be a resource for freelancers, start-up businesses and small businesses, and the Wesleyan and Middlesex Community College communities. We are working to develop constructive MEWS+ curriculum that will complement the many on campus activities already underway. We will also work to connect Wesleyan students with downtown Middletown and with the dynamic business community that exists in Middlesex County. In addition to the co-working space, the MEWS+ will develop a series of “Meet-ups” in Middletown that will attract businesses and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes. The first MEWS+ meet-up of the year will take place on Thursday, March 1 from 9:15-10:30. We look forward to welcoming keynote speaker Marcus B. Chung who works in Vendor Relations for Stich Fix Inc. Stich Fix is a San Francisco based personal styling company that went public in November 2017. It currently has nearly 2.2 million active users. As head of Sourcing and Vendor Relations, Marcus will speak about the company's supply chains and rapid growth, including the ways Stitch Fix uses data to optimize customer experience and innovate in the fashion industry. Marcus is a Wesleyan Trustee and advisor to the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. A leader in corporate social responsibility (CSR), he has held roles at companies such as Gap Inc. and Talbots focused on delivering value through strategic supply chain management. We certainly look forward to welcoming Marcus back to Middletown and appreciate his willingness to help us develop an innovation eco system out of the chamber. The event will also include: tours of the Middletown Entrepreneurs Work Space (MEWS+), networking with local entrepreneurs and high growth companies, the introduction of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur Council, an idea exchange on growing a dynamic co-working environment in Middletown, and a Business Card Raffle featuring great prizes. We are very excited about the MEWS+, and I would like to thank our sponsors, the City of Middletown, Wesleyan University, Middlesex Hospital, and Liberty Bank for making it all possible. We will certainly keep the community appraised as this important initiative moves forward.
I would like to close this week’s chamber column by asking members to also save the dates for two more important events that are on the horizon. Our March Member Breakfast featuring UConn Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma is scheduled for Monday, March 12, and our 2018 Women in Business Leadership Conference, Luncheon and Health & Wellness Fair will take place on Tuesday, April 10, both at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. The Luncheon portion of the event will be headlined by Jean Chatzky who is the financial editor of NBC's TODAY show, an award-winning personal finance journalist, host of the podcast HerMoney with Jean Chatzky on iTunes, and a New York Times bestselling author. More information on both events will be released in the coming weeks.
Spring is inching closer and closer, and the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County.