April 16, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
The hope for warmer weather springs eternal as we have reached mid-April in Middlesex County.
Before getting into the many happenings of the week, I want to do a quick final wrap up of our very successful 2018 Women in Business Leadership Conference, Luncheon, and Health and Wellness Fair which was held last Tuesday. This event, sponsored by Citizens Bank, brought to you by RJ Julia Booksellers, and presented by the Women’s Leadership Collaborative, featured a great crowd that enjoyed a full day of learning, growing and networking. I want to take a quick moment to thank a few individuals who made the event happen through their great work. This conference would not be possible without the partnership that we have built with RJ Julia Booksellers. Roxanne Coady and members of her team are wonderful partners and we appreciate their support. I especially want to thank Liz Bartek from the RJ Julia staff for her great effort and persistence as this event came together. We also have to thank our outstanding event sponsor, Citizens Bank. Citizens is a longtime supporter of our chamber and a terrific corporate citizen throughout its 11 state service area. Citizens Bank Connecticut President Lisa Maass did a terrific job with her remarks throughout the day, and we very much appreciate her support and participation. Assistant Vice President / Regional Public Affairs Market Manager Kim Bartlett-Manisene worked very closely with our team as the event came together and I certainly thank her and all of the Citizens team members for their support. Finally, I want to thank chamber Vice President and Events Coordinator Johanna Bond for doing an outstanding job with the planning and execution of the 2018 Women in Business Leadership Conference, Luncheon, and Health and Wellness Fair. I am proud of the continued good work of my entire team at the chamber, and look forward to continued success as 2018 rolls along.
Last Thursday evening, I joined chamber VP’s Jeff Pugliese and Johanna Bond, Public and Media Relations Director Mike Fallon, and Past Chairwoman Darlene Briggs at the Annual Meeting of the Killingworth Chamber of Commerce. This meeting was designed to explore how our two organizations can partner moving forward, and how we would make such a constructive partnership work. It was a very productive discussion that we look forward to continuing. I thank Killingworth Chamber President Franco Piscitelli and their entire membership for having us at their Annual Meeting.
Moving into this week, our Legislative Leadership Series continues on Monday morning in Cromwell when we welcome House Minority Leader Themis Klarides to a special meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott. Rep. Klarides will visit with chamber members to discuss the 2018 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly which is moving right along in Hartford. I very much appreciate her willingness to once again come and visit with our members during this very busy legislative session. This important event series for our chamber closes next Monday, April 23, when we welcome Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano to another session at the Courtyard in Cromwell. These chamber meetings with the leaders of each legislative caucus have been very productive, and I appreciate each of them taking the time to visit with our members. Our Legislative Committee will continue to stay engaged as we move towards the end of session.
This Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m., the next installment of the KeyBank Workshop Series will be held at the chamber office. CT Small Business Development Center Counselor Jim Jackson will lead this session which will focus on “Two Faces of Time Management.” Join us to learn the overall principles and practical day-to-day methods that you can use immediately to gain control of your time. Attendees will learn how to plan and prioritize more effectively while managing interruptions and distractions. More information and event registration is available online at www.middlesexchamber.com. Our chamber is very appreciative of Key Bank and their strong support of this series.
Looking ahead to later in the week, the chamber’s Board of Directors April meeting will be held on Thursday afternoon at the Middletown Elks Lodge. In addition to brief reports from chamber members and staff, the meeting will feature a presentation from the co-chairs of the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, Bob Patricelli and Jim Smith. This commission was established as part of the bipartisan budget deal that was signed into law last October. It was created to develop and recommend policies to achieve state government fiscal stability and promote economic growth and competitiveness within the state. Bob Patricelli, who serves as Co-chair and Municipal Aid Leader, is the former Chairman and CEO of Women’s Health USA, Value Health, and Evolution Benefits. Jim Smith, who serves as Co-chair and Fiscal Stability Leader, is the current Chairman and former CEO of Webster Bank. The commission recently released its final report and is visiting with key associations and other groups in Connecticut to explain their process and their recommendations. We look forward to having them at the meeting, and thank them for taking the time to present to our group.
On Thursday afternoon, I look forward to joining Mayor Dan Drew for the Grand Opening of Ice Cream Emergency. Ice Cream Emergency is a uniquely themed, full-service, ice cream catering company. In fact, it is a full service mobile ice cream parlor. We look forward to celebrating with their team on Thursday afternoon and wish them the best moving forward.
The final Grand Opening celebration of the week will be held on Thursday afternoon at Fox on the Green Restaurant located at Portland Golf Course. Fox on the Green will be open year round with a brand new bar, grill room, and fine dining area located in the green house overlooking the 9th green. I look forward to celebrating with Alex and Fico Cecunjanin and the Fox on the Green team, John and Laurie Kelley and the PGC team, Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, and other friends and supporters.
As you can see, the economic activity in Middlesex County continues to be strong.
Looking ahead to later in the month, I ask once again that chamber members and other interested parties save the date for the 31st Annual Business & Education Partnership and Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Breakfast which 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 am also happy to announce that the 2018 High School Career Fair Expo is scheduled for Tuesday, May 1 at the Spurrier-Snyder Ice Rink at Freeman Athletic Center on the campus of Wesleyan University. Presented by the chamber’s Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council, The Middlesex Consortium of Schools, and Wesleyan University’s Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, this 13th Annual Career Fair Expo will be attended by close to 1400 students from all over Middlesex County. The Career Fair Expo is an exploration event, a way to introduce our high school students to the many different career paths out there. We believe that it is very important to connect local students to the many industry sectors that are critical to the economy in our region and in our state, and this event is an important part of that effort. More to come on this important event as well.
Before wrapping up, I want to take a moment to congratulate Greystone Retirement Home, 44 High Street in Portland, which is celebrating 65 years in business and now, the third generation of family ownership. Opened in 1953 by Baldwin and Lucy Amato, Greystone transitioned to their daughter Lucille and son in law Paul Swanson beginning in the 1970's. Now, granddaughter Luel Swanson, Administrator of Greystone for 17 years, has purchased the facility to become the third generation of the Amato/Swanson family to continue the family legacy of care at the facility. Luel plans to renovate and upgrade the property with careful attention paid to the comfort of the residents, and celebrate with a Grand Reopening Ceremony in October. Congratulations to Luel and her staff for creating such a wonderful and caring place in our community, and we look forward to celebrating with them in the fall.
I must unfortunately close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of Anna Giannetti. Anna was a terrific local businesswoman in Middletown and a strong supporter of our chamber in my early days in this position. She owned Falcon Express Office Products in Middletown and Imperial Stationers in New Haven, and also served as President of Connecticut Office Supply Co. Inc. of Meriden CT. In addition to her support of our chamber, Ann, along with her husband Joe, supported a wide variety of other community causes along the way especially the Mercy Xavier Corporation which raised funds for the two schools. It was my honor to coach her son Chris on the football field at Xavier High School, and it was my honor to work with her on a number of fronts. Our thoughts and best wishes are with her husband, Joe, her daughter Kimberly, her sons Christopher and Joel, her five grandchildren and her entire family at this difficult time. Anna Giannetti will be missed.