May 7, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
Another busy chamber week kicks off on Monday with the May meeting of our Executive Committee. Under the leadership of our chairman, Rick Morin, the Executive Committee serves as our top governing body. Monday’s meeting will cover a number of important topics including the legislative session, economic development projects that are progressing throughout Middlesex County, and other issues of importance to the business community. I continue to appreciate the support of our dedicated and engaged Executive Committee, and look forward to another productive meeting.
On Tuesday morning, I will join chamber VP’s Jeff Pugliese and Johanna Bond, and our Workforce Director Lorenzo Marshall for the Middlesex United Way Campaign Awards Breakfast at the Middletown Elks Lodge. A number of outstanding local companies will be honored for their community support initiatives and we look forward to celebrating their great work at the event. The 2018 United Way Awards will honor Comcast with the Corporate Spirit Award; Julisa Velasquez and Bob Millerd of Pratt and Whitney, and Paul Turenne of Wesleyan University as Coordinators of the Year, Chandler Howard of Liberty Bank with the Leadership Award, Middlesex Hospital and East Hampton Schools with the Funding Partner Achievement Award, Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski with the Small Business Community Partnership Award, Eli Cannon’s with the Social Media Shout Out Award; MiddleOak with the Special Achievement Award, and Clifford O. Straub with the Community Service Award. We look forward to honoring all of these community champions, and congratulate them, and the Middlesex United Way, on their outstanding work.
Also on Tuesday morning, the next installment of the KeyBank Workshop Series will be held in the chamber conference room. This session, titled “Best HR Practices in Hiring, Disciplining and Firing Employees", will be held from 8-10:00 a.m. Presented by Joshua Hawks-Ladds of the law firm Pullman & Comley, LLC, the discussion will focus on helping small business owners, HR personnel and managers understand the legal issues surrounding modern hiring and firing decisions. The presentation will also cover practical steps that employers can take to minimize litigation risk, and will detail best practices for employment background checks and due diligence, drug testing and medical inquiries, conducting a comprehensive application and interview process, identifying fraudulent employment and/or educational references, when to discipline and when to fire, effective preparation for termination, and the most common difficulties faced during the process. More information and event registration is available online at www.middlesexchamber.com. The content provided through this workshop series has been, and continues to be very beneficial for our members. I again thank KeyBank Market President Jeff Hubbard and his team for their outstanding support of this important chamber initiative.
On Tuesday evening, Jeff Pugliese will represent the chamber and will join Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister and other local dignitaries at the Grand Re-Opening celebration for Masonicare at Chester Village. Formerly under the name Chester Village West, Masonicare at Chester Village is the ideal setting for a senior independent living community. I know that the team at Masonicare at Chester Village will continue to provide outstanding care while serving as a strong community partner as we move forward. We congratulate them on this era for the facility, and appreciate their longtime membership in our chamber.
Switching gears a bit to tourism, I look forward to attending the Connecticut Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Connecticut Convention Center on Wednesday. Johanna Bond, who staffs our many tourism initiatives here at the chamber, will join me at the event which will feature a number of tourism stakeholders from around the state. The Governor’s Conference on Tourism is produced by the DECD Connecticut Office of Tourism in partnership with the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. Chamber members and supporters know that I have been shouting from the mountain tops for many years that tourism is a key economic generator in Middlesex County and throughout our state. With destinations like the Goodspeed Opera House, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, Lyman Orchards, Waters Edge Resort and Spa, Saybrook Point Inn, Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park, Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort, TPC at River Highlands, The Durham Fairgrounds, The Gelston House, The Griswold Inn, Downtown Middletown, The Connecticut River Museum, EMPOWER Leadership Sports and Adventure Center and much, much more, Middlesex County has it all. I look forward to attending Wednesday’s event, and am honored to be receiving the Tourism Legacy Leader of the Year Award as part of the conference. We will continue to stress the importance of tourism to our economy and to our quality of life.
This busy week will also feature three important division meetings throughout Middlesex County. On Wednesday morning, our Durham and Middlefield Division will meet at Cooper Atkins in Middlefield from 8:00-9:00 a.m. This meeting will feature updates from local officials, a legislative session review, and an update on the MEWS+ initiative. The Cromwell Division will meet on Thursday at the TPC River Highlands at 8:00 a.m. In addition to updates from local officials, the meeting will feature a preview of the 2018 Travelers Championship which will take place from Monday, June 18 thru Sunday, June 24. Finally, Our Chester, Deep River, and Essex Division will meet on Friday at Masonicare at Chester Village in Chester from 8:00- 9:00 a.m. This meeting will feature a visit from Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman who will serve as our main program speaker. I would like to once again thank Lt. Gov. Wyman for her longtime support of our division structure and of our chamber. As I have noted many times, our divisions continue to play a critical role in the operation of our organization.
An important Chamber Membership Open House & Networking Event will take place this Thursday evening, May 10, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. at the chamber office. Chamber Ambassadors, who are highly visible, prestigious volunteers who serve as our key liaisons to new members, will be on hand to network and assist new members along with our great staff. We look forward to a productive session on Thursday evening, and thank our ambassadors, and our entire membership for their enduring support.
Looking ahead to next week, the chamber’s next Member Breakfast Meeting, sponsored by Farmington Bank and the Real Estate Finance Association (REFA), will be held on Monday, May 14 at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell. This event will feature UConn Athletic Director David Benedict as keynote speaker. David Benedict became the Director of Athletics at the University of Connecticut in March of 2016 and has had a dynamic impact on Husky athletics ever since. We look forward to his visit and his remarks, and I thank him personally and on behalf of the chamber for joining us. I also want to thank John Patrick and his team at Farmington Bank for their great support of this event and our chamber. Immediately following next Monday’s Breakfast Meeting, we are partnering with REFA’s Hartford Chapter for an event that will feature some of the top Commercial Real Estate professionals in Connecticut. This open forum event, scheduled from 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., will focus on commercial real estate investment, including the retail, office and industrial sectors, local projects and developments, current market conditions, and expectations for the future. Featured speakers will include several REFA members: Mike Riccio of CBRE Capital Markets, Mark Duclos of Sentry, Pat Mulready of CBRE, and Marty Kenny of Lexington Partners. The session will be moderated by REFA members Derek Ezovski, President of ORMS (Outsource Risk Management Solutions) and Paul LaMonica, SVP Farmington Bank, who also serves as the president of REFA’s Hartford Chapter. I would like to thank REFA for their partnership on this event, and especially Paul LaMonica who has worked very well with our team as this important event came together. For more information on the Member Breakfast meeting and the REFA event, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com.
Looking ahead to later in the month, May’s Business After Work Networking Reception will be held on Thursday, May 24 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat. The event will feature a terrific spread of food, drink and as always, the best networking around. The Valley Railroad Company, which operates the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, has been serving the lower Connecticut River Valley since 1971. Their unique facilities and programs attract visitors from all over the state and the northeast region. In fact, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat is one of the top tourist attractions in Connecticut. We are very proud of the work that Kevin Dodd and the entire team is doing to make sure that Middlesex County continues to be a great place to live, work and play. Our membership certainly looks forward to the Business After Work event on May 24.
The first full week of May is upon us in Middlesex County, and the chamber continues to be on the move.