June 11, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
A busy June continues in Middlesex County as the chamber calendar continues to be packed with events and activities.
Before covering the many events and activities scheduled for this week and for the remainder of June, I want to offer some thoughts on the chamber’s 123rd Annual Awards Dinner which was held last Wednesday evening at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell. The event, which was enjoyed by over 310 chamber members, friends and guests, honored five outstanding Middlesex County citizens and three graduating Middlesex County high school seniors. The Annual Awards Dinner also marked the official transfer of the chamber’s chairmanship from Rick Morin, a Partner with Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski in Middletown, to Jay Polke, co-owner of Willowbrook Spirit Shoppe in Cromwell. I want to once again thank all of our members who attended the Annual Dinner, and I especially want to thank past chamber chairman and longtime supporter Anthony Assante for doing a fantastic job as Master of Ceremonies. Rick did a terrific job over the past year in the important chamber leadership position of Chairman of the Board. We thank him for his service and support. I know our staff looks forward to working with Jay over the course of the next year as we continue to work every day to move Middlesex County forward. We’re on the move!
Last week also featured our Annual Real Estate Luncheon which was held on Thursday afternoon at The Elks Club in Middletown. Hosted by our Real Estate Council and sponsored by Liberty Bank, the Annual Real Estate Luncheon brings together our many active member realtors who continue to do important work in Middlesex County. In addition to terrific networking and a celebration of this critical industry sector, the event also featured the presentation of the 2018 Mary Ellen Klinck Real Estate Agent of the Year Award. The Mary Ellen Klinck Real Estate Agent of the Year Award is presented to an agent who has made outstanding volunteer contributions to our community, while exhibiting professionalism and success in the real estate field. Mary Ellen Klinck is the former chair of the chamber’s Real Estate Council, and a former chair of the chamber’s Board of Directors. This year’s recipient of this prestigious chamber award is Margaret Curry of William Raveis Real Estate. All of our attendees enjoyed honoring Margaret’s work both professionally and in the community. Another successful Real Estate Luncheon is in the books, and I continue to appreciate the strong commitment of our member realtors.
Another busy week kicks off tonight when Mattabesett Canoe Club at Harbor Park hosts a members-only Business After Work networking reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. We expect a nice crowd for what is sure to be a fun night of late spring networking on the Connecticut River. Danny Cronin and his Canoe Club team will put out a great spread of food and drink as always, and the atmosphere on the water will undoubtedly be top notch. I thank Danny for hosting, and look forward to another great Business After Work event.
The next installment of the KeyBank Workshop Series is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. at the chamber office. The session, focusing on How to Build Your Leadership Team, will be led by Empower Leadership Sports and Adventure Center President and General Manager Dan Jaskot. Dan is a great chamber member who serves on our Board of Directors and as chairman of our Young Professionals’ Alliance. He will focus on bridging the gap between leadership theory and application. This interactive presentation is designed to introduce leadership concepts and their “real-world” applications in the professional world. Whether you are a seasoned leader hoping to maximize your team members’ individual talents, or an aspiring leader looking for personal development in your industry, this seminar will provide a “leadership tool kit” applicable across multiple industries. www.middlesexchamber.com has all the info. I encourage members and non-members alike to join us for this important seminar.
Tuesday also features a chamber planning meeting with our newly installed chairman, Jay Polke, our newly installed Vice Chairman, Dattco President Don DeVivo, and chamber Vice Presidents Jeff Pugliese and Johanna Bond. I look forward to a productive discussion with these chamber leaders as we map out the year ahead.
The main event of the week is Middletown’s 21st Annual Cruise Night OnMain, Powered By NAPA, which will be held this Wednesday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. in downtown Middletown. In addition to the City of Middletown and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, sponsors for this free annual downtown event include Title Sponsor: NAPA Auto Parts; DBD Sponsor: Downtown Business District; Hot Rod Sponsors: Jackson Chevrolet and iHeart Media Show Car Sponsors: Apple Rehab Middletown, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Liberty Bank, and MedExpress Urgent Care; and Cruiser Sponsors: City Church, SERVPRO Middletown/New Britain and The Flood Law Firm. Additional event supporters include: First & Last Tavern, Middlesex Music Academy, All American Productions, The Garage Guys Car Club, The Eastern Chapter Over the Hill Gang Car Club and the Connecticut Military Car Club. While downtown Middletown undergoes some changes on the parking front, we are advising spectators for the evening to park at the MiddleOak Corporate Center Garage on College Street, which will be free for the event. A full list of public parking locations is available on the city’s website, www.middletownct.gov. Main Street will be closed between Washington Street down to the South Green. Main Street will be paced with vintage cars for viewing, band entertainment and outstanding vendors. Music and food, combined with an array of pre-1993 classic vehicles, will make this a family-friendly and fun event for everyone. Entertainment on the Showmobile from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., includes music from Shaded Soul Band, an All American Productions Grease-themed Fashion Show, and WMRD/WLIS Radio which will be in front of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce playing oldies music. The Over the Hill Gang Car Club DJ will be located by Brew Bakers, spinning tunes from the 50’s & 60’s; Harvest Wood Audio will provide sound on the Showmobile in front of Bank of America, and iHeart Media will be in the Gazebo on the South Green. Sponsor awards will be announced at 8 p.m. The awards include Best In Show Award – Powered By NAPA, Main Drag Award - presented by Middletown Downtown Business District, Jackson Chevrolet Choice Award – presented by Jackson Chevrolet, Apple Rehab Choice Award – presented by Apple Rehab, The Fat City Cycle Award – presented by Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Liberty’s Choice Award - presented by Liberty Bank, MedExpress Choice Award – presented by MedExpress Urgent Care, The Restored to Glory Award – presented by City Church; Flood Choice Award – presented by The Flood Law Firm, the Smokin’ Hot Award presented by SERVPRO Middletown/New Britain and Mayor’s Choice Award- presented by Mayor Dan Drew. This event will benefit Middletown youth programs, including the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, Middletown Recreation Programs, and the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program. I want to take a moment to thank all of our sponsors and supporters, along with our Cruise Night Planning Committee, for their hard work and dedication to the event. Please join us downtown on Wednesday night for what is sure to be an outstanding 21st Annual Cruise Night on Main.
Earlier on Wednesday, I look forward to joining Chamber Chairman Jay Polke, Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, Portland Economic Development Coordinator Mary Dickerson, and State Rep. Christie Carpino for the grand opening of Mizzi Cosmetics in Portland at 1:00 p.m. Mizzi Cosmetics offers naturally made lip balms & lip scrubs that heal, soothe & protect. I congratulate President and Founder Brenda Mierzejewski on this exciting venture, and look forward to celebrating with her and her team on Wednesday afternoon.
This week will also feature two important division meetings and a number of important chamber committee meetings. On Wednesday, the Durham and Middlefield Division will meet at Advanced Environmental Interface in Middlefield. This meeting will feature Connecticut State Comptroller Kevin Lembo as guest speaker. Comptroller Lembo is currently on his annual tour of the chamber division meetings throughout Middlesex County. It is important that the business community in Middlesex County has a strong working relationship with our state officials, and these division meetings are a big part of that effort. I thank Kevin for visiting with our members once again. Our Cromwell Division will meet at Chicago Sams Sports Bar and Grille on Thursday beginning at 8:00 a.m. This meeting will feature updates from local government officials along with other reports from Cromwell based stakeholders. Friday morning will feature a meeting of the MCSAAC Executive Committee at 8 a.m. at the chamber office. Established in 1991, MCSAAC, or the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council, aims to reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug abuse in our region. While MCSAAC has had to deal with major funding cuts in the past year, we look forward to a productive discussion on Friday morning that will focus on how we can continue the work of this important community based initiative. The Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council, Health Care Council Steering Committee, Legislative Committee and Affordable Housing Committee also have meetings scheduled for this week. As you can see, the chamber calendar continues to be packed. The week closes with a Friday afternoon meeting of the Connecticut Tourism Coalition which will be held on board Lady Katharine Cruises, “Mystique” on the Connecticut River in Middletown. The Connecticut Tourism Coalition is comprised of various association and industry–supporting organizations whose main goal is to effect change in the Connecticut tourism industry by addressing key legislative, regulatory and budgeting issues through public education. I look forward to another productive discussion with this important group.
Finally, one of the best weeks of the year, Travelers Championship week, is coming up next week in Middlesex County. This year’s tournament has once again attracted an outstanding field of players to the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. As I have noted many times, this PGA event is a major economic generator and tourist attraction for our region. Next week’s column will focus exclusively on the 2018 Travelers Championship, but I do want to remind members that discounted tickets are once again available through the chamber. All tickets available are general admission “Grounds” tickets. Cost is $30.00 per ticket, a 38% savings on the gate price for “Grounds” admission. We are also excited to welcome PGA Pro Keegan Bradley to Middlesex County for our 2018 Travelers Championship Member Breakfast Meeting which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 19. Finally, in addition to the Travelers Championship Member Breakfast Meeting, next Tuesday also features the Middlesex County Spring Career Fair at the Red Lion Hotel from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Over 50 companies from throughout the labor market area will be seeking people whose skills run from professional, technical, manufacturing and administrative. I will have much more in next Monday’s column, and www.middlesexchamber.com has all the info.
The sun always shines in Middlesex County.