January 7, 2019
By: Larry McHugh
The first full week of the year kicks off this morning at the chamber office with a meeting of our Executive Committee beginning at 11:30 a.m. Chamber Chairman Jay Polke will lead this important meeting which will cover a wide variety of topics that affect the business community in our region. I continue to appreciate the support of this outstanding group of business leaders, and look forward to another productive discussion.
This Tuesday morning, January 8, the very successful KeyBank Workshop Series will continue with our first sessions of the year, one taking place from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m., and the other from 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Both of these sessions will focus on Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in the workplace. The definition of sexual harassment, liability, and the prevention of sexual harassment will be discussed. Attorneys Alexa M. Farmer and Sara R. Simeonidis 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.
The main event of this busy chamber week, our first Business After Work Networking Reception of the year, takes place on Wednesday evening, January 9, at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort in Middlefield from 5:00-7:00 p.m. 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 at Powder Ridge will also serve as the official kick off of the Fourth Annual "Taste of Middlesex County" Restaurant Week, brought to you by Comcast Business. 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: Baci Grill in Cromwell, Esca Restaurant and Wine Bar in Middletown, Red House in Deep River, First & Last Tavern in Middletown, Lan Chi's Vietnamese Restaurant in Middletown, La Boca 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, Brizo in Rocky Hill, 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 that we might pick up this week. We will be sure to keep everyone updated in the chamber column and through other promotional means. Bon Appetit!
On the chamber division front, the Durham and Middlefield Division and the Cromwell Division both hold their first official meetings of the new year this week. The Durham and Middlefield meeting will be held on Wednesday morning at Durham Town Hall, and the Cromwell Division will meet on Thursday morning at Autumn Lake Health Care at Cromwell. Both of these meetings will feature local updates, information on upcoming events, and chamber updates. We will also preview the upcoming legislative session in Hartford. As I have noted many times and will continue to note, our divisions are critical to the success of the chamber’s operation, and we appreciate all of our chairs, co-chairs, and members that support these important monthly meetings.
Switching gears to business development, I look forward to joining Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, Economic Development Coordinator Mary Dickerson, and other local dignitaries for the Grand Opening of SilTec Labs in Portland at 11:00 a.m. SilTec Labs, LLC is the premier choice for lifelike silicone prosthetic devices, and they are doing great work right here in Middlesex County. We wish their entire team nothing but the best, and look forward to working with them in 2019 and beyond.
Looking ahead to a bit later in the month, we are very much looking forward to the chamber’s 2019 Legislative Breakfast which is scheduled for Friday, January 18, 2019 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell. This event, sponsored by Comcast, will feature legislators that represent the 15 Middlesex County towns in the State Senate and in the House of Representatives. The Legislative Breakfast represents a great opportunity, on an annual basis, for our members to network with these important elected leaders. We have a number of new legislators in our delegation this year so this breakfast is even more important than ever. The 2019 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly begins this Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at the Legislative Office Building and State Capitol in Hartford. The following legislators have been invited: District 9 Senator Matt Lessor, District 12 Senator Christine Cohen, District 13 Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams, District 33 Senator Norm Needleman, District 34 Senator Len Fasano, District 23 Representative Devin Carney, District 32 Representative Christie Carpino, District 33 Representative Joseph Serra, District 34 Representative Irene Haines, District 35 Representative Jesse MacLachlan, District 36 Representative Christine Palm, District 82 Representative Emil “Buddy” Altobello, District 86 Representative Vin Candelora, District 100 Representative Quentin Phipps, and District 101 Representative Noreen Kokoruda. I want to again thank Comcast for its great support of this important chamber event. We look forward to a very important session and will, as always, be very engaged in the legislative session.
Before closing, I ask that everyone please save the date of Friday, January 25 for our January Member Breakfast Meeting, sponsored by Webster Bank, featuring Boston Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy. According to his official biography on the Boston Red Sox website, Kennedy, 44, is a native of Brookline, MA who grew up within walking distance of Fenway Park. He joined the Red Sox as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships in 2002. He was among the first wave of executives the current ownership group brought to Boston from the San Diego Padres, where Kennedy had worked the previous six years. Kennedy immediately distinguished himself, playing a key role in the revitalization of the Red Sox brand and the dramatic growth of the team's financial base through the creation of new revenue streams. Kennedy was also intimately involved in the preservation and transformation of Fenway Park and the transformation of the ballpark experience. He is also a 1995 graduate of Trinity College who has strong Connecticut ties. I appreciate Sam’s willingness to come to Middlesex County to visit with our group and we certainly look forward to a terrific event. We also received some very exciting news last week that Sam will be bringing the 2018 World Series trophy with him to the event. This is a great opportunity for members and their guests to pose for a picture with the trophy, and to continue to celebrate another championship for the club. This Member Breakfast Meeting would not be possible without the support of Webster Bank. Not only are they sponsoring the event, but Executive Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Bill Wrang and Senior Vice President of Commercial Real Estate James Lane were instrumental in getting Sam Kennedy to come. I thank them both for their longtime friendship and support of our chamber.
I must, unfortunately, close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of William “Bill” McKenna at the age of 82. Bill McKenna was many things to many people. He was an educator, a coach, a leader, a friend, and most importantly, a husband, a father and a grandfather. He was eternally devoted to catholic education and was a gentleman in every sense of the word. I will always be grateful for his friendship and support over a period of many years. Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill’s wife of 55 years, Patricia, his four children, Colleen, Cathy, Erin and Bill, his 12 grandchildren, and his entire family and vast network of friends at this difficult time. Bill’s son, and current Middletown Police Chief Bill McKenna, did a wonderful job with his remarks at his father’s funeral which was a fitting tribute to a great man. Bill McKenna will be missed by many, but his family can take comfort in the fact that he led a life full of joy and of helping others. May he rest in peace.