March 12, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
We have reached one of my favorite weeks of the year, the week that includes Saint Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick’s Day is a truly global celebration of Irish heritage and tradition, and I am very proud that the residents and businesses of Middlesex County have warmly embraced the holiday. Whether you plan to celebrate by wearing your favorite green tie, sweater or shirt, by enjoying a nice plate of corned beef and cabbage, or by visiting one of our outstanding restaurants for food and drink, I hope that everyone in our region enjoys a very happy, healthy, and safe Saint Patrick’s Day.
A busy work week kicks off with Monday’s sold out Member Breakfast Meeting with UConn Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Coach Auriemma and the Lady Huskies, fresh off their conference tournament victory at Mohegan Sun last week, are gearing up for another national run. In addition to UConn’s 11 National Championships under his leadership, Geno has also won the Naismith College Coach of the Year Award eight times and has two Olympic Gold Medals as Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team. We certainly look forward to this Member Breakfast which has become a very popular event for our chamber over the course of the past few years. I again want to thank the Coach for speaking to our membership, and MiddleOak CEO Gary Vallo and his team for sponsoring this major chamber event. Go Huskies!
The breakfast event with Coach Auriemma will be immediately followed by a forum hosted by our Affordable Housing Committee beginning at 9:15 a.m., and will focus on housing as a key to keeping younger workers in Connecticut. We have assembled a terrific panel for this important conversation which will include a Young Professional Perspective from Evan Tosi, Industrial Engineer, Belcan Engineering Group, Inc., a National Perspective from Greg Ugalde, First Vice Chairman, National Association of Homebuilder’s (NAHB), a look at the Connecticut Housing Landscape from Charles Patton, Senior Policy Analyst, Partnership for Strong Communities, a Regional Perspective from Sam Gold, Executive Director, RiverCOG, and an Employer/Human Resources Perspective from Mary Guerrera, Vice President for Human Resources, Whelen Engineering Company, Inc. I would like to thank Liberty Bank Foundation Executive Director Sue Murphy and her team for sponsoring this event and for their longtime support of this committee and of our chamber. We look forward to a busy morning at the Radisson on Monday.
The next installment of the KeyBank Workshop Series will be held this Tuesday, March 13 from 8-10 a.m. at the chamber. “Social Media Marketing”, presented by Patrick Ganino of Social Tuna, will break down best practices including creating an effective posting schedule, proper posting and positioning techniques, collecting emails, e-blasts, Facebook ads, and social media as a revenue driver. I want to once again thank KeyBank Market President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team for their continued support of this workshop series. Later in the afternoon on Tuesday, the chamber will host a special Membership Open House & Networking Event from 5-6:30 p.m. This event, specifically aimed at reinforcing existing members, and attracting prospective new members, will feature outstanding networking along with an introduction of the staff and important information on member benefits and the many resources that are available. We appreciate the strong and enduring support of our membership, and strive to support them in any way that we can.
Wednesday is also jam packed from start to finish. At 8:00 a.m., our Business and Education Partnership Advisory Council will meet at the chamber office, and our Durham and Middlefield Division will meet at Advanced Environmental Interface in Middlefield. On the legislative front, a contingent of members and staff will travel to the State Capitol and Legislative Office Building in Hartford for Connecticut Business Day 2018. Sponsored by CBIA and the Connecticut Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Connecticut Business Day brings in business leaders from around the state with the goal of connecting them to their local legislative delegation, and helping them gain deeper insights into the issues being debated in Hartford. The morning will begin with networking and a plenary session with Gov. Dannel Malloy and Members of the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, followed by three separate breakout sessions on Fiscal Policy, Labor & Workforce Development and Transportation. I would like to give a special thank you to DATTCO for providing our team with transportation to this event. For more information on Connecticut Business Day, please contact the chamber office.
Thursday morning kicks off with the March meeting of Workforce Alliance’s Executive Committee. I look forward to continuing discussions with my fellow committee members as we work towards developing a prepared and productive workforce in our state. 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. A busy Thursday also features the March meeting of the chamber’s Board of Directors at The Griswold Inn in Essex from 11:30am-1:00pm. The meeting and lunch is sponsored by The Clark Group and Tower Laboratories. In addition to reports from chamber committee chairs and key staff, the meeting will feature remarks from Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade. Chamber board meetings often feature visits from commissioners and constitutional officers and we appreciate Commissioner Wade’s visit. We look forward to another productive board meeting on Thursday.
In addition to all of those meetings and activities, this week also features a few exciting grand opening celebrations throughout the county. On Monday, I look forward to attending the Ribbon Cutting ceremony for Roots Hair Studio in Haddam along with Haddam First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo. The artists at Roots Hair Studio take pride in providing exceptional customer service to its clientele. I look forward to celebrating the official grand opening with Christina Bibisi and her team. On Wednesday, I will attend the official Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for Spoke + Spy Ciderworks which is located in the RM Keating Historical Enterprise Park in Middletown. Spoke + Spy puts an emphasis on working with nearby farmers and using local ingredients for its ciders. Ron Sansone and his team is committing to producing a high quality product, and I look forward to celebrating with Ron, Mayor Dan Drew, CBB Chairman Tom Byrne, and other city dignitaries on Wednesday afternoon. The final celebration of the week, a Grand Re-Opening, will take place on Thursday at Abbeez Premium Frozen Yogurt Bar in East Hampton. Abbeez is committed to providing a clean and comfortable atmosphere for friends and family to enjoy fresh frozen delights and make warm memories. I look forward to celebrating with Jessica Stewart and her team, and East Hampton Town Manager Mike Maniscalco. On behalf of the chamber, I wish all of these terrific local establishments success in their endeavors. We look forward to supporting them along the way.
As I noted earlier, the 2018 Regular Session of the CT. General Assembly is rolling right along in Hartford. The chamber’s 2018 Legislative Leadership Series, which kicked off last week with our breakfast with Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz who did a great job, continues on Monday, March 26, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. with Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff. At this special meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott, Sen. Duff will visit with chamber members to discuss the 2018 session and some of his key priorities. 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. We are currently in the process of planning events with additional legislative leaders, and will certainly keep our membership appraised as they come together.
I will close this week’s column by asking chamber members to save two important dates, March 27th, which is the 34th Annual Business After Work Auction & Taste of Downtown at the Italian Society Hall in Middletown, and April 10th, which is the chamber’s Women in Business 2018 Leadership Conference, Luncheon and Health & Wellness Fair brought to you by Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore and presented by Citizens Bank. Presenters at this year’s conference include Ellen Feldman Ornato & Jenny Drescher from The Bolder Company, Roxanne Coady of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Lisa Maass of Citizens Bank, Wendy Shumway of Invision CCS, and Keynote Speaker Jean Chatzky, who is the financial editor of NBC's TODAY show, and an award-winning personal finance journalist. More information on both events will be shared as we get closer, and as always, www.middlesexchamber.com has all the info. Sláinte!