August 27, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
We have reached the stretch run of summer here in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.
It is hard to believe, but the 2018 Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program is now in the books. We are so proud that this summer we were able to place 64 youth employees into constructive employment environments at 31 host worksites from a variety of different industry sectors. This six week program provides a solid foundation and a great glimpse into what life in the workforce is like. During the six weeks, our young people not only learned the fundamentals of employment, such as getting to work on time and ready to contribute, but also the pride that comes with putting in a solid work week and receiving a paycheck that was earned through hard and honest work. This important program would of course not be possible without the support of our host worksites. These local, community minded businesses and organizations have stepped up to the plate this year to provide the work experience and supervision necessary to make this program work. I thank all of them on behalf of the chamber for their support. Our 2018 host worksites are as follows: Amazing Grace Food Pantry, The Buttonwood Tree (North End Arts Rising), Cavanaugh & Company LLC, Excellent Way Ministry Camp, Finesse Cuts LLC, Futures Inc., Godfrey Memorial Library, Goodwill Industries/Easter Seals, Habitat for Humanity (Restore), ID Mail Systems, Inn at Middletown, It's Only Natural Market, Lan Chi's Vietnamese Restaurant, LandmarkArchitects, Liberty Bank, Marshall's, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, Middletown Public Works, Middletown United Fathers Community Garden, N.E.A.T./North End Action Team, Northern Middlesex YMCA, Oddfellows Playhouse Youth Theater, One MacDonough Place, Pamela Roose Specialty Hand Knits, Pegasus Manufacturing Inc., Russell Library, Ryan Woods Autism Foundation, Seasons Federal Credit Union, Shiloh Youth Intergenerational Program, Suburban Stationers, Tschudin Chocolates, and William Raveis Real Estate. Even more so than our terrific host sites, the program’s success this year is due to the leadership of an outstanding team of community funders. I would also like to take a moment to once again thank our 2018 team of funding partners for their great contributions to this program. Without them, this program would simply not be possible. Our 2018 team of funding partners are as follows: Workforce Alliance, the state’s South-Central Workforce Investment Board, The City of Middletown, under the leadership of Mayor Dan Drew and the Common Council, Peach Pit Foundation; Community Foundation of Middlesex County/Chuck and Rachel Wiltsie Fund, Howard and Yvonne McAuliffe Fund, Elizabeth Swaim Middletown Fund; Liberty Bank Foundation; Jarvis Products Corporation; MiddleOak; Pegasus Manufacturing; Greenwald Industries; Stone Investment Properties; Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, and Middlesex United Way. I thank all of our program supporters for their continued dedication to this important initiative. I also want to take a moment to thank chamber Workforce Development Director, and Youth @ Work Program Coordinator, Lorenzo Marshall. Lorenzo, with the support of the chamber staff, did another terrific job administering the program this year. I appreciate all of their good work. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce will continue to serve as a bridge between job seekers and employers in our region.
The last week before the Labor Day holiday is a busy one in our region for me and for the chamber team.
I look forward to traveling to the big ballpark in the Bronx on Tuesday night for a Yankees game with J.R. Marino who, along with his wife Tamba, is a good friend and longtime supporter of our chamber. J.R. was the high bidder for the tickets to the game at our annual Business After Work Auction and Taste of Downtown held back in March. I continue to appreciate J.R.’s strong support, and look forward to a great night in New York City with him and his guests.
Back on the home front, Anytime Fitness, a 24 hour gym for people of all ages and fitness levels, is hosting a Five Year Anniversary Celebration on Thursday afternoon at its Shunpike Road location in Cromwell. I remember the Grand Opening well, and cannot believe it has been five years. I look forward to celebrating this milestone with the Anytime Fitness team, and wish them continued success right here in Middlesex County.
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.
As we prepare to put August to bed, the chamber team is looking ahead to a very busy month of September. The chamber divisions start up again next week after a hiatus over the summer months. Our divisions play a key role in the operation of our chamber, and I look forward to reconnecting with our members from all different industry sectors and all areas of the county.
Excitement continues to build for the September Business After Work networking reception which will be held aboard the Lady Katharine Cruise Boat, “Mystique” on Wednesday, September 12. “Mystique” is docked at Harbor Park, 80 Harbor Drive in Middletown. Members can board the boat at 5 p.m. and network while docked until 6:00 p.m. At approximately 6:00 p.m., the Mystique will take a trip down river and will return at the close of the Business After Work at 7:00 p.m. This event, as all of our Business After Work events do, will feature a terrific spread of food and drink and of course, the best networking around. The visit to the “Mystique” is for chamber members and key employees. All members who are interested in attending must register in advance of the event by visiting www.middlesexchamber.com or by contacting the chamber office. On behalf of the chamber, I want to thank the owner of Lady Katharine Cruises, Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, for hosting this event and for their strong support of our chamber. Kevin Dodd and his team continue to great work throughout the region, and we continue to appreciate their effort. On the Member Breakfast front, the chamber will welcome FedEx Ground President & CEO Henry Maier as guest speaker on Friday, September 21. This event is jointly sponsored by the City of Middletown and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Maier assumed his role in June 2013 and is responsible for the strategic direction and performance of the company. He also serves on the FedEx Corp. Strategic Management Committee. His visit coincides with the opening of the 525,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art distribution hub in the Westfield section of Middletown. FedEx Ground has more than 90,000 employees, an average daily volume of 8 million packages, and annual revenue of $18 billion (FY2017). More to come on this event as we get closer, but we certainly look forward to an exciting morning on September 21. The Member Breakfast Meeting will be immediately followed by a Lenders Forum which will feature a panel discussion and mini expo with representatives of bank, non-bank, and community lending sources. Attendees will learn how to access the money they may need either now or in the future. The event will also feature information on SBA & DECD loan programs and other important topics about financing your business. Please visit www.middlesexchamber.com for more information.
Looking ahead to October, I ask that chamber members save the date of Thursday, October 18 for a Member Breakfast Meeting with new Head Men’s Basketball Coach at UConn, Dan Hurley. This event is sponsored by ConnectiCare. Coach Hurley comes to UConn from the University of Rhode Island (URI) where he enjoyed a very successful six year run as head coach. I know our members are very excited about the event with Coach Hurley, and I will continue to provide updates on his visit as we get closer. In addition to this exciting October chamber event, I ask that chamber members and other interested parties also save the date of Wednesday, October 24 for Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County's Premier Business EXPO. This full day of events and activities will include the main expo hall with over 110 exhibitors from a wide variety of industry sectors, a career fair with over 50 employers who are hiring, our annual Small Business Awards Celebration which will honor a number of our small business champions, and other content ranging from politics to substance abuse prevention and more. We are now accepting nominations for the Small Business Awards in the following categories: Business of the Year (1-30) Employees), Business of the Year (31+ employees), Business Growth & Expansion Award, Manufacturer of the Year, Minority Owned Business of the Year, Outstanding New Business under 5 years, Retail Business of the Year, and Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year. Connecticut Connections is a great opportunity to display and showcase your products and services face-to-face with potential new customers in your target market. The content for this important business expo is rapidly coming together, and we will continue to share updates as we get closer.
In closing, and as we approach Labor Day weekend, I ask that everyone please consider our local destinations as they plan their time of leisure and recreation. Middlesex County continues to be a great place to live, work and play. Beautiful landscapes, the Connecticut River, vibrant downtowns, Long Island Sound, outstanding tourist destinations, a central location with access to major highways, a plethora of food and entertainment options, and a nice mix of urban and rural experiences makes Middlesex County the place to be. Remember, the sun always shines in Middlesex County, and we hope to see you here real soon.