October 1, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
Amazingly, the month of October has arrived in Middlesex County, and the Middlesex Chamber continues to be on the move.
A busy chamber month kicks off on Monday with a meeting of our Executive Committee at the chamber office. I continue to appreciate the support of our top governing body which is currently under the leadership of our Chairman, Jay Polke. We look forward to another productive meeting which will cover a variety of topics.
The chamber’s divisions will host legislative candidate forums throughout the month of October across Middlesex County. This week, candidates for the State Senate and State House seats that represent the towns of Portland and East Hampton will have the chance to address our members at Angelico's Lake House Restaurant in East Hampton on Wednesday, and those running to represent Chester, Deep River and Essex will appear at our Down County Division meeting on Friday morning at Aaron Manor in Chester. We look forward to productive discussions at these meetings, and I thank all of the candidates for visiting with our members and for their willingness to serve in public office.
Switching gears, two exciting grand opening celebrations are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Chamber VP Johanna Bond will attend a grand opening for the Edward Jones office in Colchester on Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. We appreciate the continued support of chamber member Kevin Harris and his team, and we wish them great success at their new location. On Thursday afternoon, a grand opening celebration for Perk on Main will be held at its new Main Street Market location in downtown Middletown. I congratulate Katie Hughes and her team on a well-executed relocation, and look forward to working with them as we move forward.
Later on Thursday, I look forward to attending the Annual Meeting of the Middlesex Health System Corporators at Middlesex Hospital. As I noted last week, Middlesex Hospital offers a comprehensive spectrum of locally-based hospital services in a wide range of specialties. It is not only a world class healthcare operation in Middlesex County, it is a major employer and a strong supporter of the Middlesex Community. I thank CEO Vin Capece and his team for their continued good work on so many fronts, and look forward to seeing my fellow corporators on Thursday night.
On Friday morning, a major Ribbon Cutting Ceremony will be held at Liberty Bank’s New Corporate Headquarters beginning at 8:30am. While maintaining its commitment to the downtown area and all of the city’s communities, Liberty Bank will be transitioning its nearly 300 employees to its new home set on a stunning 23 acres at 245 Long Hill Road. In addition to three stories of light filled workspace, state of the art training facilities, adjustable height work stations, and many conference rooms, Liberty’s new home will have a fitness center, cafeteria with two outdoor patios, walking trails, a light harvesting system, energy saving and efficiency features, high-end security, and much, much more. Having the majority of Liberty Bank’s support team in one location will afford new opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and efficiency that simply doesn’t exist when spread over multiple buildings. However, don’t think for one minute that Liberty is abandoning its forever home on Main Street. Their Main Office Branch team will remain in place, and once this process is completed, more than 100 members of the Commercial Lending group and most of their Investment Services team will occupy 315 Main Street and the nearby Annex. Back in April, Liberty Bank sponsored the chamber’s annual Business and Education Partnership & Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Recognition Breakfast. During his remarks, Liberty’s President and CEO, Chandler Howard, did a great job rolling out the plans for the Bank’s transition to its new headquarters, and the renderings that were displayed in the ballroom looked outstanding. As always, Liberty Bank will continue to be a critical player in the regional economy, a major employer in our city, and one of the best corporate citizens anywhere. We look forward to celebrating with their entire team on Friday morning.
Excitement also continues to build for our October Member Breakfast featuring UConn Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dan Hurley which is right around the corner. Scheduled for Thursday, October 18, and sponsored by ConnectiCare, the Member Breakfast Meeting will be held at the Red Lion Hotel Cromwell, 100 Berlin Road, Cromwell. 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 what will be a sold out event with Coach Hurley, and I will continue to provide updates on his visit as we get closer.
I also ask, once again, that chamber members and other interested parties 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 Luncheon which will honor a number of our small business champions, and other content ranging from tourism, to economic resilience, to entrepreneurship, to substance abuse prevention and more. The morning will kick off with a session hosted by the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) titled, The Honest Truth: Opioid Addiction-Resources for the Workplace and for Families. This workshop will feature a panel discussion covering access to treatment, recovering in the workplace, and the role of insurance in treatment. It is free and open to all, and is a particularly important discussion for employers, professionals and families. I would like to thank MCSAAC President Tony Salvatore and the Advisory Committee for their continued support of MCSAAC through challenging times. 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. More information on this full day of events and activities will be shared as we get closer, and you can always visit www.middlesexchamber.com for more information.
Before closing, I want to acknowledge that October is Manufacturing Month in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce is keenly aware of the importance of manufacturing in our region and throughout the state. Chamber Vice President Jeff Pugliese plans to visit each of our member manufacturers in the coming months and the chamber will continue to work to support this vital industry sector in any way that we can. Jeff has already had very productive meetings with Roto North America, Ripley Company, and Pegasus Manufacturing, and has visits scheduled this week with Greenwald Industries, AeroCision, and Pratt and Whitney. Stay tuned as much more is coming on this important topic.
Finally, you may recall that I closed last week’s column by honoring the passing of Susan (Brown) DeRing. However, when mentioning that she co-founded Young Horizons Day Care Center in Higganum, I did not properly identify her business partner, Dianna Peterson. Sue and Dianna founded Young Horizons in 1982, and the center has provided excellent day care services ever since. I am grateful to both of these terrific businesswomen for their support of our chamber over the years.
As you can see, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce continues to be on the move.