December 24, 2018
By: Larry McHugh
We have reached the holidays in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation. The holiday season is a time to reflect on the past year, express appreciation for those most important to us, and look ahead with a positive attitude to the year ahead. Our chamber is truly lucky to have a dedicated Board of Directors which is led by our outstanding Chairman, Jay Polke of Willowbrook Spirit Shoppe in Cromwell. Jay, and all of our past chairs, exemplify what this chamber is all about, working together every day to make sure Middlesex County is a great place to live, work and play. I continue to be proud of my dedicated staff that works hard every day for the business community in Middlesex County. I also continue to appreciate the unwavering support of our entire membership. From the members of our Executive Committee and Board of Directors, to our division and committee chairs, to our many supporters throughout Middlesex County, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would like to wish everyone in our region, and throughout the State of Connecticut, a very Merry Christmas, and a safe and joyous holiday season. I also ask that as we celebrate the holidays, we keep in mind the men and women of our armed forces who are serving at home, and around the world, to keep us safe and free. Please also keep in mind those who are less fortunate. May they experience joy and happiness during this holiday season and beyond.
Last week was a sprint from start to finish for me and the entire chamber team. Tuesday afternoon featured a productive meeting of the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Tourism at the chamber office in Middletown. Led by its Chairman, Don Devivo, the panel is working to boost Connecticut’s tourism industry which is already worth billions of dollars to the state’s economy. There are a number of follow up meetings of the Blue Ribbon Panel that are scheduled for early next year. I would like to again thank Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz for his leadership on this important issue and for creating this important panel. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce will continue to be a key partner in the state’s tourism promotion efforts in 2019 and beyond.
On Wednesday morning, we continued a longtime Middlesex County tradition as we welcomed Connecticut’s sitting governor to our December Member Breakfast Meeting in Cromwell. Governor Dannel P. Malloy spoke to a large out crowd at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell and did a great job in his final appearance before our membership. I would like to thank him once again for his eight years of service to our great state. In addition to Gov. Malloy, we were honored to welcome Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, State Comptroller Kevin Lembo, various state commissioners, state legislators, UConn President Susan Herbst, CSCU President Mark Ojakian, and many more state and local officials. Eversource President of Gas Operations Bill Akley did an excellent job introducing the governor and offering remarks on behalf of the company. We continue to appreciate the strong support of Bill and the entire Eversource team, and are happy to put another successful Governor’s Breakfast in the books.
On Thursday afternoon, the chamber’s Board of Directors held its December meeting at The Gelston House in East Haddam. The Gelston House looked terrific as always, and the lunch that their staff served was delicious. In addition to committee reports and remarks from chamber staff, the meeting featured a productive discussion on many of the important issues that will face the business community in 2019. Anthony Assante, a past chairman of our chamber and longtime supporter of the organization, sponsored the meeting as he does on an annual basis. I thank Anthony and his company, Egidio Assante Wealth Management, and Iso Dedushaj and his team at The Gelston House for another outstanding meeting in East Haddam.
This week, while quiet for the most part, does feature a visit to Jerry’s Pizza on Thursday afternoon for the restaurant’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Jerry Schiano opened Jerry’s on December 28, 1968 and his family has been serving delicious pizza to the people of Middletown ever since. I look forward to celebrating with the Jerry’s team on Thursday, and congratulate them on 50 terrific years.
Later on Thursday, I will join Chamber Chairman Jay Polke and Cromwell Division Chairman Rodney Bitgood at the Grand Opening for Mizzu Asian Bistro & Hibachi in Cromwell. We look forward to welcoming Sambot Orm and his team to the Middlesex business community, and wish them nothing but the best.
Looking ahead to January, I am happy to announce that the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce will continue the very successful KeyBank Workshop Series in the New Year. Our first session, Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 8 at the chamber office. The definition of sexual harassment, liability, and the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace will be discussed. Attorneys from the law firm Jackson Lewis, LLP will demonstrate how to limit your company's exposure to charges of sexual harassment. This session meets the State of Connecticut's requirement for two hours of sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors and managers. Please contact the chamber for registration information. This important chamber Workshop Series is sponsored by KeyBank, and I want to again thank Market President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team for their support.
On Wednesday evening, Jan. 9, the chamber’s first Business After Work networking reception of the New Year will be held at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort in Middlefield. In addition to the best networking around, this event will feature free beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks, and a great spread of food courtesy of Sean Hayes and his team. I thank Sean not only for hosting this event for our chamber, but for his commitment to Middlefield, to Portland through Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park, and to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce.
This exciting Business After Work event will also serve as the official kick off of the fourth annual "Taste of Middlesex County" Restaurant Week, brought to you by Comcast Business, which is back by popular demand in 2019. Taste of Middlesex County is scheduled for January 14-20 at delicious dining locations throughout our region. The goal of this initiative is to highlight the numerous and diverse dining experiences within the greater Middlesex region. From the beautiful shores of Westbrook to the home of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, there is something for everyone. Restaurants offer a pre-fixed menu to give diners the opportunity to experience the area’s fine dining landscape without breaking the bank. This year, there will be two dining options both with a prix fixe 3-course meal, one for $20.19, and the other for $30.19 (does not include beverages, tax or gratuity). I want to once again thank Comcast Business for its strong support of Taste of Middlesex County which is an exciting week for our chamber and for our region. Save your appetite for the week of January 14-20, and please visit one or more of our many wonderful participating restaurants. That list currently includes: Red House in Deep River, Baci Grill in Cromwell, Lan Chi's Vietnamese Restaurant in Middletown, Scotch Plains Tavern in Essex, Water's Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook, The Griswold Inn in Essex, Amici Italian Grill in Middletown, Inn at Middletown’s Tavern at the Armory, Herd Restaurant in Middletown, Tuscany Grill in Middletown, and Fire at the Ridge and Ridgeside Tavern in Middlefield. Please visit the Taste of Middlesex County tab on the chamber’s website and keep an eye out for additional participating restaurants as we get closer to Jan. 14. We will be sure to keep everyone updated in the chamber column and through other promotional means. Bon Appetit!
I will close this week’s column by once again wishing everyone a joyous and safe holiday season with family and friends. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce continues to be on the move, and we look forward to another great year in 2019.
For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com 2