April 2, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
April kicks off with another busy week for the chamber team and for our dynamic membership.
Our Executive Committee, under the leadership of Chairman Rick Morin, meets on Monday at the chamber office at 11:30 a.m. The meeting will cover a number of important topics including the legislative session that is underway in Hartford, economic development projects that are progressing throughout Middlesex County, and other chamber related updates. I continue to appreciate the support of our dedicated and engaged Executive Committee.
On Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m., I will attend the Hospital for Special Care’s Stack of Kindness kickoff event at Chip’s Family Restaurant in Wethersfield. Throughout the month of April, Chip’s Restaurants will be supporting the Autism Center at the Hospital for Special Care with this statewide promotion taking place at all six of their locations. George Chatzopoulos and Dina Chatzopoulos-Bajko of Chip’s Family Restaurant continue to do a great job not only with their business, but with their strong community support initiatives. I look forward to a fun and uplifting event.
On the chamber division front, three important meetings will be held this week at different locations throughout the county. On Wednesday morning, our Portland and East Hampton Division will meet at Portland Library at 8:00 a.m. In addition to updates from local officials, the meeting will feature a presentation from Connecticut Small Business Development Center Counselor Jim Jackson. The Connecticut Small Business Development Center offers expert assistance at no cost to entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the state. Jim covers Middlesex County, and is a terrific resource for the business community. The chamber’s Central Business Bureau will meet on Thursday morning at the chamber office at 8:00 a.m. This downtown focused group will receive reports from Mayor Drew and a number of city department directors. The meeting will also feature reports from the Downtown Business District, Wesleyan University, and other key stakeholders. Finally, our Chester, Deep River and Essex Division will meet on Friday morning at Essex Savings Bank. The meeting will feature reports from municipal officials from these three important member towns, and chamber Legislative Committee Co-Chair Maureen Westbrook will also provide an update on the legislative session and on the activities of the Legislative Committee. Our divisions continue to play a critical role in the chamber’s operations. Other chamber meetings scheduled for this week include our Tourism Steering Committee, Technology Committee, Environment, Land Use and Energy Committee, Golf Committee, Real Estate Council, Nominating Committee, and Women’s Business Alliance. As you can see, the chamber team continues to be on the move.
On Wednesday, April 4, I look forward to attending the Grand Opening of Life Family Chiropractic of Portland at 9:15 a.m. after the Portland/East Hampton Division Meeting. Life Family Chiropractic of Portland serves families and helps them reach their full potential through specific chiropractic care. I look forward to joining Dr. Tyler Hartley, Dr. Stephen Judson, and Dr. Michael Koster and their team as we welcome them to the business community.
Another important event scheduled for Wednesday is the 36th Annual Meeting of Workforce Alliance at the Hilton Garden Inn in Wallingford. Workforce Alliance is a policy and oversight organization responsible for creating a comprehensive, community-wide response to the challenges of building a highly skilled workforce. Mary Wright, Director of Employer Alliances Jobs for the Future, will serve as Keynote Speaker. As I have noted many times, the chamber values its relationship with Bill Villano and his team. I look forward to attending their Annual Meeting along with chamber VP Jeff Pugliese and Workforce Development Director Lorenzo Marshall.
Looking ahead to next week, a Grand Re-Opening for Vale Fields + Courts on Newfield Street in Middletown is scheduled for Monday, April 9 at 5:00 p.m. Formerly known as Advanced Sportsplex, Vale Fields + Courts is a year round, climate controlled facility that offers training opportunities in baseball, soccer, football, virtual golf and now, basketball. The Grand Re-Opening will also be the official unveiling of the new basketball court infrastructure that the new ownership team has installed. We look forward to working with Zach Eddinger and the entire team at Vale Fields + Courts, and we wish them success as we move forward.
The main event scheduled for next week, on Tuesday, April 10 at the Red Lion Hotel, Cromwell (formerly Radisson Hotel Cromwell) is the 2018 Women in Business Leadership Conference, Luncheon, and Health and Wellness Fair. This event, sponsored by Citizens Bank, brought to you by Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, and presented by the Women’s Leadership Collaborative, will feature a full day of learning, growing, and networking. The luncheon portion of the event will be headlined by keynote speaker Jean Chatzky, an award-winning personal finance journalist who serves as the financial editor of NBC's Today Show. Jean Chatzky has been honored with multiple awards for her work to educate consumers about their money, and providing important information and smart steps for getting out of debt. Signed copies of Jean Chatzky and Michael F. Roizen, MD’s new book, “AgeProof, Living Longer without Running Out of Money or Breaking a Hip,” will be available.
A kickoff presentation called EMBODY THIS! Leadership Success," will be given by Ellen Feldman Ornato & Jenny Drescher of The Bolder Company. The Bolder Company is the catalyst for lasting behavioral change that empowers businesses to thrive. A breakout session on “Building Strategic Relationships” will be given by the Owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers Roxanne J. Coady and Lisa Maass, President, Citizens Bank, Connecticut.
A second breakout session on “How to Negotiate and Handle Difficult Conversations” will be led by Wendy Shumway of Invision CCS. In her 30 years of medical practice, Dr. Shumway has worked in a variety of settings and with a range of patients. Through Invision Coaching, Consulting and Seminars, Wendy works nationally, connecting with service-based professionals and organizations to help them move beyond surviving to get to thriving as she does not accept that coping is the best we can do.
Master of Ceremonies for the event will be News 8 Anchor/Reporter Ann Nyberg. Ann Nyberg has spent nearly 40 years in broadcast television news. She is the longest-serving, full-time female news anchor/reporter in Connecticut television history.
We look forward to an excellent event next Tuesday in Cromwell, and we ask those who are attending to please consider donating gently-used and nearly new professional attire to this event in support of Dress for Success of Hartford County. These suits could furnish another woman with the confidence to enter or return to the workplace and help her land a job that could change her life. I would like to thank Citizens Bank Connecticut President Lisa Maass for her outstanding support of the event, RJ Julia Booksellers Owner Roxanne Coady for her commitment and longtime partnership with the chamber, and chamber VP Johanna Bond who in partnership with the Women’s Leadership Collaborative is working hard to make sure that this event is truly productive and enjoyable for all of its attendees. Join us!
Before closing this week’s column, I want to remind chamber members about three other important events in the month of April. Our Legislative Leadership Series continues on Monday, April 16 when we welcome House Minority Leader Themis Klarides to a special meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell, and concludes on Monday, April 23 when we welcome Len Fasano, Senate Republican President Pro Tempore, for a similar session. Our Legislative Committee continues to stay very engaged as this important session progresses. Finally, the chamber’s 31st Annual Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Breakfast is scheduled for Monday, April 30 at the Red Lion Hotel, Cromwell (formerly Radisson Hotel Cromwell). Keynote Speaker for this important event is Mark E. Ojakian, President of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system. More information on this event is forthcoming, and we very much appreciate Liberty Bank’s sponsorship and support.
I must close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of Myron J. Poliner. Myron was a graduate of Middletown High School and Wesleyan University, and he went on to lead a long and very well respected legal career in Middletown. The Middlesex County Bar Association and the State of the Connecticut General Assembly recently honored Myron for his 60 years of dedication as a member of the Connecticut Bar. Myron was a longtime resident of East Hampton where he served in many civic roles including as Chair of the Board of Education and the Sewer and Water Pollution Control Commission. He also served as President of the Middlesex County Bar Association, and supported the legal profession in a variety of additional ways. He was a longtime and active chamber member, along with his brother Bob, and I always appreciated that support. Most importantly however, Myron was a family man. Our thoughts and best wishes are with his wife Josephine Trotta Poliner, his son Michael; his daughters Rachel and Elizabeth, his grandsons, his brother Bob, his sister Gail, his step children and step grandchildren, and his entire network of family and friends at this difficult time. Myron Poliner will certainly be missed.