September 3, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
Today, we celebrate Labor Day in Middlesex County and around our great nation. Every year on Labor Day, I take some time to talk about the importance of the holiday which is designed to provide a day of rest for working men and women. In addition to honoring the commitment and dedication of hard working Americans, Labor Day also represents the traditional end of summer and serves as an ideal time to chart a path for the rest of the year. The chamber's far-reaching membership, 2,275 businesses that employ nearly 50,000 people, allows me to observe the outstanding diversity in the Middlesex County workforce. The men and women of the Middlesex community not only provide the economic productivity that allows us to maintain a high standard of living, but they give back each and every day, and provide a great example for our young people. Despite the many differences in occupations, there is a definite common theme among those in our county and statewide workforce, everyone works hard. A job in any field requires a personal commitment and a lot of time and effort. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce has continued to implement successful workforce development programs throughout the past year. As a result of our great working relationships with a number of key partners, the chamber is able to serve as a bridge that connects job seekers to employers. A strong workforce is the key to a strong economy, and the chamber is proud of its workforce development initiatives. Enjoy your Labor Day Middlesex County, but let us not forget our fellow citizens who are currently looking for work, and let’s never forget those who serve our country in a variety of ways.
As usual, the first full week of September is packed with a number of chamber meetings and activities. Wednesday morning features meetings of the chamber’s Portland and East Hampton Division and Environment and Infrastructure Committee. The Portland and East Hampton division meeting, to be held at Saint Clement’s Castle, will feature local updates from key municipal officials and chamber members. The chamber’s divisions continue to be a vital link to our member towns and to each individual local business community within our service area. The Environment and Infrastructure Committee focuses on important environment, land use, transportation and energy issues that have a direct impact on the business community in Middlesex County. This committee, as all of our industry based groups do, continues to be an important part of our organization. On Thursday morning, our Central Business Bureau will meet at 8:00 a.m. in the chamber conference room. This meeting, which will feature updates from a number of key Middletown stakeholders including Mayor Drew and city department directors, is hosted by KidCity Children’s Museum. Middletown Parking Director Geen Thazhampallath will provide an update on the parking situation in the downtown area which has gone through a lot of changes of late. We look forward to another productive CBB meeting on Thursday morning. This Friday, our Chester, Deep River, and Essex Division will meet at the Route 9, Exit 4 Commuter Parking Lot on Route 154 at the Deep River/Essex town line. The meeting will feature an update from Joe Comerford, Executive Director of the Estuary Transit District, which recently launched a new bus route from Madison to Middletown along routes 1, 81 and 154. Joe will also speak to other chamber divisions later in the month. We look forward to starting off September with a bang during this short, but very busy week.
A packed September continues next week with an important business seminar, and a Business After Work networking reception on the river.
The seminar, which is the latest installment of the KeyBank Workshop Series, will be held on Tuesday morning, September 11 at 8:00 a.m. at the chamber office. This session is titled, Learn How to Make Your Business Stand Out Across All Forms of Social Media. Presented by Patrick Ganino of Social Tuna, the workshop will provide practical tips on how to make social media work for your business. From the small nuances that allow your business to use social media effectively, to creating an effective posting schedule, to proper posting techniques, to email collation, this workshop is comprehensive. Please visit www.middlesexchamber.com for registration information. This important chamber Workshop Series is sponsored by KeyBank, and I continue to appreciate the support of Market President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team.
Excitement continues to build for the September Business After Work networking reception which will be held aboard the Lady Katharine Cruise Boat, “Mystique” next 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 do 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.
I would like to close this week’s chamber column with some thoughts on the recent passing of United States Senator John McCain. John McCain is a true American hero who served his country with honor throughout his life. He entered the Naval Academy in June of 1954, and served in the United States Navy until 1981. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982, and elected to the United States Senate in 1986. Sen. McCain was the Republican Party’s nominee for president in the 2008 election, and most recently served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. We were so honored to welcome him as keynote speaker at a chamber Member Luncheon in March of 2015. During his remarks, he spoke about politics and his love for America, but he really focused on “Thirteen Soldiers”, a terrific book that he co-wrote with Mark Salter about the personal accounts of thirteen American soldiers who fought in major military conflicts throughout our history. We were also happy to welcome Mr. Salter to the event and I know that both of these gentlemen felt welcome in Middlesex County. It will go down as one of our best, and most well attended chamber events. John McCain served his country, and he served it remarkably well. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce mourns his passing and offers our best wishes to his family. We thank him, and his fellow veterans, for their service. May Senator John McCain rest in peace.