On the Move with Larry McHugh


Larry McHugh, President of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce writes the weekly column "On The Move," published in The Middletown Press. The column focuses on the business community and the economic environment in Middlesex County. Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce events and grand openings are a regular feature of the column.

Middletown to host Taste of Middlesex County

January 14, 2019

 

By: Larry McHugh

 

2019 is off and running, and the calendar is hopping with events and activity.

 

This week is highlighted by two major chamber events, our Fourth Annual Taste of Middlesex County, and the 2019 Legislative Breakfast.

 

Taste of Middlesex County, brought to you by Comcast Business, is scheduled from January 14 through January 20 at many of the delicious dining locations in the 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. Please be sure to visit one or more of our many wonderful participating restaurants. That list includes: Amici Italian Grill in Middletown, Angelico's Lakehouse Restaurant in East Hampton, Artie's Bar & Grill in Durham, Baci Grill in Cromwell, Brizo Fish in Rocky Hill, Conspiracy in Middletown, Eli Cannon's Tap Room in Middletown, El Pulpo & Tapas Bar in Middletown, Esca Wine Bar & Restaurant in Middletown, First & Last Tavern in Middletown, Fire at the Ridge Restaurant & Lodge in Middlefield, The Griswold Inn in Essex, grown in Middletown, Herd Restaurant in Middletown, Inn at Middletown Tavern At The Armory in Middletown, La Boca Mexican Restaurant in Middletown, Lan Chi's Vietnamese Restaurant in Middletown, Los Charros Cantina in Centerbook, Mizzu Asian Bistro & Hibachi in Cromwell, Red House in Deep River, Scotch Plains Tavern in Essex, The Essex in Centerbrook, Tuscany Grill in Middletown and Water's Edge Resort & Spa, Westbrook. The Taste of Middlesex County tab on the chamber’s website has all of the information on participating restaurants and their excellent menu options. Bon Appetit!

 

On the legislative front, it is hard to believe, but the 2019 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly has begun in the capital city of Hartford. The chamber looks to once again be active and engaged in the legislative process this year. A key part of that effort is our annual Legislative Breakfast, sponsored by Comcast. This year’s event is scheduled for this Friday, January 18, 2019 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell. Sponsored by Comcast, the Legislative Breakfast 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 that represent our region. We have a number of new legislators in our delegation this year so this breakfast is even more important than ever. The following legislators have been invited to attend: State Senator Matt Lessor, State Senator Christine Cohen, State Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams, State Senator Paul Formica, State Senator Norm Needleman, State Senator Len Fasano, State Representative Devin Carney, State Representative Christie Carpino, State Representative Joseph Serra, State Representative Irene Haines, State Representative Jesse MacLachlan, State Representative Christine Palm, State Representative Emil “Buddy” Altobello, State Representative Vin Candelora, State Representative Quentin Phipps, and State Representative Noreen Kokoruda. I want to again thank Comcast for its great support of this important chamber event.

 

This week also features a series of other important meetings in addition to Taste and the Legislative Breakfast.

 

Thursday morning includes a visit to New Haven for the January meeting of the Workforce Alliance Executive Committee. Workforce Alliance works to improve the delivery of workforce services in close collaboration with business, education and training providers, and local elected officials. The chamber continues to enjoy a very strong working relationship with Workforce Alliance, and will continue to focus on workforce development in 2019.

 

Later on Thursday, the chamber’s Board of Directors will hold its January meeting at Baci Grill in Cromwell from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This board luncheon is sponsored by Eversource. Our Board of Directors is made up of outstanding business people from a variety of different industry sectors and from throughout Middlesex County. I continue to appreciate all of their support. Chairman Jay Polke will lead what will certainly be a very productive meeting on Thursday afternoon.

 

Two exciting Grand Opening celebrations are also scheduled in the coming week.  This Tuesday, I look forward to joining a number of officials from the Town of Cromwell for the Grand Opening of Café Luna on Berlin Road. This family run café and lounge is an excellent addition to Cromwell and to the local dining scene. We look forward to working with Lorenzo Cecunjanin and his team and wish them great success as we move forward. We also look forward to Sunday when we officially welcome Joe's Filling Station, also on Berlin Road in Cromwell, to the Middlesex business community. Joe’s offers a broad and deep variety of world class and craft beers, along with a great food and wine selection. We also look forward to working with Joseph Moon and his team, and wish them all the best as they kick off this exciting new venture. As I have noted many times, one of the most rewarding aspects of this job is participating in Grand Opening celebrations throughout Middlesex County.

 

Before closing, I want to remind everyone about a terrific chamber Member Breakfast Meeting that is scheduled for next Friday, January 25. This event, sponsored by Webster Bank, will feature Boston Red Sox President and CEO Sam Kennedy as keynote speaker. 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 once again for their longtime friendship and support of our chamber.

 

Finally, I must unfortunately close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of John M. “Jack” Biancamano. Jack had a terrific career in the health care field which included leadership positions at Mount Sinai Hospital, Hartford Hospital and UConn Health. He was a UConn graduate who maintained a lifelong dedication to the school and supported it in a variety of important ways. He also supported a number of youth and community initiatives along the way. I had the pleasure of working with Jack for eight years during my tenure as Chairman of the UConn Board of Trustees. He was a professional, a gentlemen, and most importantly, a family man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Shelley and their entire family at this difficult time. Jack Biancamano will be missed by many.


Powder Ridge to host Business After Work

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.


Resolve to start the new business year off right

December 31, 2018

 

By: Larry McHugh

 

Happy New Year, Middlesex County!

 

Now that 2018 is in the books and the New Year is upon us, I would like to wish everyone in Middlesex County and throughout the great State of Connecticut a very Happy New Year.  The beginning of a new year always brings optimism and the chance for a fresh start. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce is excited about the year ahead and we look forward to continuing our work on behalf of the business community in Middlesex County on a number of fronts. We will continue to develop our divisions and committees so that members can engage with state and local officials and address issues of importance to their region or their industry sector. We will continue to host large scale Member Breakfast Meetings with terrific speakers, and outstanding networking events that benefit our members. We will continue to reach out to non-member businesses and organizations and invite them to come aboard. We will continue to implement vital workforce development and educational training programs that are helping to develop the community and create and retain jobs. We will continue to develop an innovation eco-system in Middletown and throughout Middlesex County. Finally, we will expand on our efforts to promote Middlesex County as a key tourism hub in the northeast, and will form new partnerships between our manufacturers and our school districts as we work collectively to develop this critical workforce pipeline. I am very optimistic about 2019, and you can bet that the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce will be on the move in the New Year.

 

The first week of the year is a busy one with three important division meetings being held at different sites throughout the county. On Wednesday, the Portland and East Hampton Division will hold its January meeting at Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant in East Hampton. The Central Business Bureau will hold its first meeting of the year on Thursday morning at the chamber office. Hosted by The Rotary Club of Middletown, the meeting will feature reports from Mayor Drew and key city directors, a wrap up of the 2018 Holiday on Main Street festivities, a discussion of the 2019 Taste of Middlesex County, and other important updates. Finally, the Chester, Deep River and Essex Division will meet on Friday morning at YMCA Camp Hazen in Chester. Our divisions continue to play a pivotal role in the success of the chamber, and I continue to appreciate the support of our division chairs, town officials and chamber members who support these meetings on a monthly basis.

 

Switching gears a bit, 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 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.

 

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 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, 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, 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 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!

 

Looking ahead to 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 on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at the Legislative Office Building and State Capitol in Hartford. I will continue to provide updates on the Legislative Breakfast as we get closer including which legislators plan to attend. I want to again thank Comcast for its great support of this important chamber event.

 

Finally, save the dates of January 25 and January 29 as we will make a final announcement in coming days, 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. 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.

 

2019 is here, and we look forward to a great year.


Many business successes, thankfully, at holiday time

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.

 

Happy Holidays!

 

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com 2


Gov. Malloy guest of honor at member breakfast

December 17, 2018

 

By: Larry McHugh

 

The holiday season is in full swing in Middlesex County, but the chamber calendar continues to be packed with events and activities.

 

The week kicks off on Monday with the latest installment of our annual Middlesex County Real Estate Holiday Gathering at Luce Restaurant in Middletown. Our member realtors and other chamber member professionals who support the real estate industry will get together for holiday networking and a great spread of food. The event is sponsored by our friends at ServPro of Middletown and New Britain. The Real Estate Council, under the leadership of co-chairs Nancy Currlin and Juliet Cavanaugh, does great work throughout the year in support of our member realtors. The Real Estate Council is also once again sponsoring a toy drive so we ask that attendees of the gathering bring an unwrapped toy in support of this important cause.

 

The final two chamber division meetings of 2018 are scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday of this week in Westbrook and in East Haddam. The Westbrook Division will meet at the Captain Stannard House on Tuesday, and the East Haddam & Haddam Division will meet on Thursday at the brand new Town of East Haddam Municipal Office Complex in Moodus. I want to once again thank all of our division chairs and other supporters for an outstanding 2018. Our divisions will continue to be a critical piece of the chamber infrastructure in 2019 and beyond.

 

This busy week is headlined by Wednesday’s Member Breakfast Meeting featuring Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell. Gov. Malloy has appeared at our December Member Breakfast Meeting in every year of his administration, as have all of our sitting governors, going back to the administration of Governor William A. O’Neill in the 1980’s. We expect a large crowd of businesspeople, public officials and other chamber supporters for the 2018 version of our annual Governor’s Breakfast. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has dedicated eight years of his life to this state and he deserves our respect and appreciation. We look forward to his remarks on Wednesday morning. This event, sponsored once again by Eversource, will begin with networking at 7 a.m., breakfast buffet at 7:30 a.m., and meeting program 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. To register online, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com. Immediately following this great chamber Member Breakfast Meeting with the governor, Eversource will also sponsor an important event titled “Is Your Business and Community Resilient to Serious Incidents or Disasters?” Speakers will stress the importance of developing an Emergency Preparedness and Business Continuity Plan, and will provide some important information on the local preparedness infrastructure in Middlesex County. Economic resilience in Middlesex County is very important as it protects local jobs and tax base and gives a business a better chance for survival after a disruption. We hope to have a good crowd for this very important discussion after the Governor’s Breakfast on Wednesday morning.

 

Following the Member Breakfast Meeting with the governor, I will head to a meeting of the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission in Farmington, and the workforce development theme continues on Thursday morning when I will travel to New Haven for the final Workforce Alliance Executive Committee meeting of 2018. Both of these meetings will continue important discussions on the development of an effective and comprehensive workforce pipeline in our state. The chamber will continue to a bridge between job seekers and employers in 2019 and beyond.

 

A busy Thursday continues with a meeting of the chamber’s Board of Directors from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at The Gelston House in East Haddam. The chamber’s board is a dynamic group of businesspeople that represents every corner of our region and every industry sector in our economy. This December Board of Directors’ meeting is sponsored by Anthony Assante and his firm Egidio Assante Wealth Management on an annual basis. Anthony is a Past Chairman, Executive Committee member, and longtime supporter of our chamber. I thank him personally and on behalf of the chamber for sponsoring this board luncheon once again. We look forward to a great meeting.

 

While we expect a quiet week of organizing and planning, the chamber office will be open next week, the final week of 2018. If you are downtown shopping or visiting a local restaurant, please stop in and say hello to members of the chamber team.

 

Before closing, I ask that everyone please consider using a local Middlesex County business for their shopping needs this holiday season. We are blessed with a wonderful business community here in our region, and I am proud that the many businesspeople we work with on a daily basis are not only concerned with operating a successful business, but with the health and well-being of our community and all of our residents.

 

Finally, I want to acknowledge Middletown Public Health Manager Sal Nesci who is retiring from city service in the coming weeks. Sal has been a longtime civil servant and a constructive partner for the business community throughout his career. He was instrumental in the creation of the chamber’s ServSafe program and always did his best to assist businesses with compliance of local health codes, so that they were able to open on schedule, and become an integral part of the local economy. I wish Sal nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors, and thank him for his service and professionalism.

 

Have a great week, Middlesex County. I look forward to sharing additional holiday thoughts next week


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