February 26, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
The month of February comes to a close this week and the lucky month of March begins.
Before looking ahead to some of the many happenings of what will be another busy week in Middlesex County, I would like to mention that I very much enjoyed the Cromwell St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee 2018 Marshall & Honoree Ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Cromwell Town Hall. Rosemary Matus was honored as Cromwell Town Marshall by the Parade Committee, and Rodney Bitgood was honored with the Cromwell Town Honoree award. Rodney is the owner of Cromwell Automotive and is a very active member of our chamber. Chamber Vice Chairman Jay Polke and Cromwell Mayor Enzo Faienza also attended, as did Councilwoman Samantha Slade who did a great job organizing the event. Our chamber continues to appreciate the strong support of the Town of Cromwell.
This week kicks off on Monday morning with our February Member Breakfast Meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Pratt & Whitney’s President of Military Engines, Matthew Bromberg, will serve as keynote speaker for this important event. 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 strong support, and look forward to a great Member Breakfast Meeting. 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 certainly look forward to a very productive Monday morning in Cromwell, and thank the CT Department of Labor, especially Commissioner Scott Jackson and Office of Apprenticeship Training Program Manager Todd Berch, for their support.
In addition to the busy morning at the Radisson, Monday will also feature a number of other important chamber meetings and events. Our February Business After Work Networking Reception at the Sheraton Hartford South Hotel in Rocky Hill will be held from 5-7 p.m. As always, the event will feature a great spread of food and drink for our members and their guests along with outstanding networking opportunities. 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 this event. 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), and our Health Care Council will host a session focusing on Retaining a Workforce through Engagement in a Growing Economy. As you can see, the chamber team will be cruising from morning to night on Monday, all in support of our membership.
Other important chamber activities this week include meetings of our Westbrook Division on Tuesday morning, our Women’s Leadership Collaborative on Wednesday morning, the Central Business Bureau and a MEWS+ Innovation Meet Up on Thursday morning, and the Chester, Deep River and Essex Division on Friday morning. The MEWS+ Innovation Meet Up will begin at 9:15 a.m. in the chamber conference room and will feature guest speaker Marcus Chung who works in Vendor Relations for Stich Fix Inc., a San Francisco based personal styling company. Marcus is a Wesleyan Trustee and advisor to the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. We certainly look forward to welcoming Marcus back to Middletown and appreciate his willingness to help us develop an innovation ecosystem out of the chamber office. 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. 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 and will serve as a resource to the Wesleyan community, most notably the student body. We are very excited about the MEWS+, and I would like to again thank our sponsors, the City of Middletown, Wesleyan University, Middlesex Hospital, and Liberty Bank for making it all possible.
I also invite chamber members to save the dates for some additional 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. This event with the Coach will be immediately followed by a forum hosted by our Affordable Housing Committee focusing on housing as a key to keeping younger workers in Connecticut. Excitement is also building for our 2018 Women in Business Leadership Conference, Luncheon and Health & Wellness Fair which will take place on Tuesday, April 10, 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 Her Money with Jean Chatzky on iTunes, and a New York Times bestselling author. Finally, the 34th Annual Business After Work Auction & Taste of Downtown is scheduled for Tuesday evening, March 27th. More information on all of these events will be released in the coming weeks.
Before moving towards a close of this week’s chamber column, I would like to take a moment to congratulate Liberty Bank President and CEO Chandler Howard on being named to the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Chandler will serve as a “Class A” director and will represent member banks on this important regional body. Chandler has led Liberty Bank for the past decade. Under his leadership, Liberty has grown to new heights while maintaining its focus on being a community bank and a terrific corporate citizen. The bank has also been recognized as a Courant “Top Workplace” for six consecutive years. Chandler is a member of the Executive Committee and is a Past Chairman of our chamber. I congratulate him again on this well-deserved appointment and thank him for his strong support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and of the entire Middlesex County community.
I am afraid I must close this week’s column on a sad note after the passing of two outstanding local individuals.
Rosemarie Marino Colavito passed away recently at the age of 82. Rosemarie, along with her husband Louis “Cleats” Colavito who passed away in 2016, loved their home city of Middletown and were very dedicated to the local community. Rosemarie, who had a wonderful voice and was a terrific singer, was a member of the St. Sebastian Church Choir, participated in several productions sponsored by the Middletown Civitan Group, was a member of the Middlesex Hospital Vocal Chords, and sang at countless wedding and funeral Masses throughout her lifetime. She was a valuable member of the Middlesex Hospital team for 15 years, but nothing gave her more joy than her loving family. As I noted when Cleats passed, I was honored to coach their two sons, Scott and Chris, and their son in law Tony Jaskot, during my tenure at the school. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rosemarie’s entire family, including his daughter Donna Jaskot, Scott, Chris, their spouses, all of their grandchildren, including Dan Jaskot who is an active member of our chamber and Chairman of our Young Professionals’ Alliance, and her entire network of friends at this difficult time.
I was also saddened to learn of the passing of John “Jack” Lyman, Jr. at the age of 91. Jack Lyman, who as his obituary notes was a farmer, fruit grower, entrepreneur, public servant, and believer, served as president and chief executive officer of the Lyman Farm Inc., in Middlefield for many consequential years. He did a great job with the company during his tenure which included a strategic diversification which led to the company becoming what it is today. He was also a strong corporate citizen, and a supporter of many community initiatives including the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Jack received the chamber’s Distinguished Citizen Award in 1997, and I was honored to serve with him on the Lyman Farm Board of Directors for many years. Jack also served our country with honor in the U.S. Army, service that included a tour in Korea, and served on the boards of several local, state, and regional organizations including the Regional District 13 Board of Education, Middlesex Hospital, the Connecticut Pomological Society, and the Eastern States Exposition. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Jack’s five children, twelve grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and his entire network of family and friends at this difficult time.
Rosemarie Marino Colavito and John “Jack” Lyman, Jr. will be missed by many.