April 23, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
The weather hasn’t fully cooperated as of yet, but Spring in Middlesex County continues to roll along and the chamber team continues to be on the move.
I want to begin this week’s column by acknowledging the great work of the Town of Cromwell which has enjoyed a number of economic development successes of late. A few exciting grand openings were recently held in town including one on March 3 at the Cage at 14 Alcap Ridge. The Cage is the newest and fastest growing gym and fitness center in Cromwell with over 13,000 square feet of space. Prides Corner Farms, one of the largest nurseries in New England, held its Grand Opening at its 600 Main Street location on April 6. Recently approved projects include the Coles Road Brewery which will begin construction later this Spring, Shop Rite, whose building permit application is moving forward, a new 403,000 square foot warehouse at 120 County Line Drive which is also moving forward, and the new 40,000 square foot club house at the TPC River Highlands. The Carrier Group, Inc. has submitted a Special Permit and Site Plan application to develop 75 single family homes on 76 Field Road, and the Special Permit and Site Plan applications for the planned 166 multi-family unit development at the Nike Site will be submitted in the late Spring. Finally, the town continues to have discussions regarding the development of two new hotels in town, more medical offices, and more retail. Cromwell is really on the move and I would like to congratulate Mayor Enzo Faienza, Town Manager Tony Salvatore, and Town Planner Stuart Popper on all of this terrific economic news. The chamber looks forward to being a constructive partner in Cromwell and throughout our region as we move forward.
This week is another busy one in Middlesex County with a number of important events and activities. The chamber’s 2018 Legislative Leadership Series concludes today, Monday, April 23, as we welcome Senate Republican President Pro Tem Len Fasano to a special meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell. At this special meeting, Sen. Fasano 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 meeting with Sen. Fasano caps off a very successful chamber legislative event series which included our Legislative Breakfast with the Middlesex County delegation, and leadership events with Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides. I thank all of these legislators that took time out during this busy session to visit with our members.
Two important chamber division meetings are also scheduled in Westbrook and in East Haddam. Our Westbrook Division meets on Tuesday morning at the Middlesex Hospital Shoreline Medical Center and Clinic. Jim Jackson, Business Advisor with the CT Small Business Development Center’s Middletown office, will present an overview of the available services, tools and successes of the CTSBDC program. The meeting in East Haddam will be held on Thursday at the East Haddam Historical Society and will feature updates from local officials and a tour of the outstanding museum. Our divisions continue to play a critical role in the operation of our chamber.
On Tuesday afternoon, I look forward to meeting with my fellow executives from Connecticut’s eight metro chambers of commerce at our monthly meeting in New Haven. The metro chambers collectively represent thousands of businesses in our state, and these meetings always feature productive discussions about collaboration and joint advocacy for the business community. I am sure the ongoing legislative session will be the main topic of conversation at this important meeting.
Tuesday evening features an informational session for commercial lenders at Lan Chi’s Vietnamese Restaurant in Middletown. One of the better-kept secrets in Connecticut is the no-cost assistance that the Connecticut Small Business Development Center offers to small businesses seeking financing. The chamber is partnering with the SBDC on this educational event which will explore ways to help business clients better prepare their applications for loans, lines of credit, mortgages and other financing. The Connecticut Small Business Development Center and their 12 experienced business advisors have helped clients secure over $200 million in new financing over the last four years as well as helping build business plans that reduce the risk to those providing the money. A short presentation of CTSBDC services, research tools and success stories will be part of this networking reception that will also feature drinks and light snacks. This event will take place from 4:30-6:00 p.m. at Lan Chi’s.
On the membership front, we are very much looking forward to attending the 10th Anniversary Celebration for Empower Leadership Sports and Adventure Center in Middletown on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. It is hard to believe that Empower, Southern New England’s only treetop zip line canopy tour, is celebrating 10 seasons of zip lining fun and empowerment on its 30 acre outdoor adventure center. President and General Manager Dan Jaskot, who serves on our Board of Directors and as Chairman of our Young Professionals’ Alliance, works with his team to offer life changing experiences that empower people and teams to maximize their potential. Mayor Dan Drew and a number of other supporters will join us for this important event. I congratulate Dan, Empower’s Founder Joe DeRing, and their entire team on ten terrific years. Here’s to many more!
This busy week wraps up on Friday at Middletown’s Arbor Day celebration at Wadsworth Mansion. Sponsored by the Middletown Forestry Commission, the event will feature a number of speakers who will stress the importance of Arbor Day which encourages groups and individuals to plant trees. I am truly honored to join Betsy Morgan, Arthur Meyers, and Maria Holzberg as this year’s recipients of a tree dedication. My fellow recipients have certainly worked to make Middletown a better place to live, work and play, and I look forward to celebrating with them on Friday.
Looking ahead to next week, 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. The Business & Education Partnership Program Advisory Council serves as a link between member businesses and educational leaders from Middlesex County schools. Its mission is to facilitate and encourage the development of mutually supportive partnerships, and to prepare students for what is an increasingly global and competitive economy. The Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, initiated in 1992, is a partnership between the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and the Middletown Board of Education. This program provides students with mentors from a variety of professional fields in our community. Mark Ojakian has had a terrific career in a variety of important roles. We look forward to welcoming him back to Middlesex County for the Member Breakfast Meeting. Liberty Bank, an outstanding corporate citizen in our region and throughout the state, is a longtime sponsor of this important annual chamber event. I continue to appreciate the work and support of Liberty’s CEO Chandler Howard and his entire team.
Finally, excitement continues to build for the 34th Annual Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament which is scheduled for next Friday, May 4 at Portland Golf Course. The 2018 tournament is sold out with 144 golfers for the 34th straight year, and we are all very much looking forward to a fun day on the course. Our Golf Committee has done a terrific job once again, and I am so appreciative of all of our sponsors, our players, those who donated gifts, those who purchased tee signs, and many other members of our chamber who offered their support in a number of different ways. In closing, I want to once again thank chamber Vice President Johanna Bond who has served as tournament coordinator for many years. She continues to a do a great job with this event, and she enjoys the support of our entire staff who all love the chamber’s golf tournament.
Let the sun shine on Portland Golf Course on May 4, and let it continue to shine on Middlesex County.