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.

Holiday Business After Work set for Nov. 28 in Haddam

November 12, 2018

 

By: Larry McHugh

 

As we all know, Election Day 2018 was held last Tuesday throughout the state and the nation. I again want to applaud and thank all the candidates for their willingness to run and serve our state and our nation. It was a long, and at times, contentious campaign. Now that the results are in, let’s recommit to the important work that we all must do to ensure our collective prosperity. We at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce certainly look forward to working with all of our elected officials in the months and years ahead. I continue to be very optimistic about the State of Connecticut and the United States of America.

 

Another busy chamber week kicks off with an exciting 20 year celebration of Baci Grill in Cromwell. As I noted last week, sisters-in-law Brenda and Lynne Reilly have done a fantastic job with this local restaurant and banquet facility since it opened in 1998. From the beginning of their journey, Brenda and Lynne have provided delicious food, have supported many community causes, and have done it all with grace and class. Baci Grill is going strong, and I look forward to celebrating with Brenda, Lynne, Cromwell Mayor Enzo Faienza, Town Manager Tony Salvatore, Cromwell Division Chairman Rodney Bitgood, Chamber Chairman Jay Polke and many other friends and supporters.

 

In addition to the event at Baci on Monday, the week features a number of important committee, division and council meetings at various times and locations throughout the region. Our Women’s Business Alliance meets on Tuesday evening at Baci Grill, Cromwell, on Wednesday morning, the Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council meets at Middletown High School for a special presentation from the Students of Middletown’s Distributive Education Club of America-DECA, and Durham & Middlefield Division meets at A Second Chance CPR and First Aid Training in Durham. Our Haddam & East Haddam Division meets on Thursday morning at Old Haddam Town Hall, with our Board of Directors meeting on Thursday afternoon at the Middletown Elks Lodge. Our Legislative Committee, and Affordable Housing Committee will meet on Friday morning at the chamber office.

 

Prior to the chamber board meeting on Thursday, I will attend a meeting of the Workforce Alliance Executive Committee where we will continue our discussions on developing a prepared productive workforce in our state. Workforce Alliance is committed to delivering employment solutions that connect people with jobs or training, and employers with skilled workers in South Central CT. The chamber is proud of its relationship with Workforce Alliance and we will continue to work to connect job seekers to employers in our region. The Board of Directors meeting is hosted by Brown and Brown of CT and MiddleOak, and will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.  In addition to reports from committee chairs and key chamber staff, the meeting will feature remarks from Arthur House, Chief Cyber Security Risk Officer for the State of Connecticut. Art is responsible for managing the state’s cyber security prevention and protection efforts which he does in a comprehensive, cross-agency and cross-sector manner. I look forward to seeing Art again and thank him for visiting with our members to address this critically important topic.

 

A packed Thursday continues in the evening at the Aqua Turf in Southington where I have the honor of serving as Master of Ceremonies at the 42nd annual CT. High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) Hall of Fame Induction Dinner. I congratulate the eight coaches and one member of the media who will be inducted at this year’s event, and look forward to another great evening.

 

Rounding out the week on Saturday, I will attend the CASHO Annual Awards Banquet also at the Aqua Turf in Southington. CASHO is a not-for-profit educational association whose mission is to provide education on public works functions throughout the state. I would like to congratulate chamber members Nathan L. Jacobson & Associates, Inc. who will be honored with CASHO’s Distinguished Service Award at the event. This Chester based firm is led by a longtime friend to the chamber and chairman of our Chester, Deep River and Essex Division, Geoffrey Jacobson. Another chamber member, Joseph A. Cermola, President of Cardinal Engineering Associates, will be honored with the Royal W. Thompson - Angelo Tomasso, Jr Lifetime Achievement Award. I congratulate Joe and his team on this well-deserved honor. I look forward to the event on Saturday night and appreciate the invitation from Joe Serra who serves as Secretary-Treasurer of CASHO.

 

Looking ahead to later in the month, excitement continues to build for our upcoming Business After Work Networking Reception at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam on Wednesday, Nov. 28th. The Business After Work event will feature the Central Business Bureau’s 2018 Festival of Wreaths Silent Auction. Beautifully decorated wreaths will be displayed for viewing and bidding until the auction closes at 6:30 p.m. The funds that are raised will benefit the Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, and the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program. Liberty Bank annually sponsor, and donates the artificial wreaths for chamber member businesses to decorate, and we certainly appreciate that continued support. Our members and their guests always look forward to the delicious spread of food and drink provided by the Riverhouse team, along with outstanding networking opportunities that the event provides. We certainly look forward to a fun evening in Haddam on that Wednesday night, and I want to once again thank Owner Jim Bucko, General Manager Hattie Donner, and the entire Riverhouse team for hosting this outstanding event.

 

Before closing, I want to make everyone aware of two important workshops scheduled for December. On Tuesday morning, December 11 from 8-10:00 a.m., the Key Bank Workshop series continues with a session titled “Time Management, The Two Faces of Time Management.”  Presented by Jim Jackson of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center, the workshop will cover practical techniques that you can use to immediately gain control over our day and more effectively manage interruptions and distractions. The second workshop will take place on December 12 from 5:30-7:00 p.m., at the Community Health Center on Main Street in Middletown. This workshop is titled, “Accidentally on Purpose: The Blurred Line Between Drug Abuse and Suicide.” This is a difficult topic but it is a very important one for the business community, and for the community at large. I want to thank our partners in this effort, Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council, the City of Middletown, Middlesex Hospital, Wesleyan University, the Community Health Center, and Rushford for all of their great work and support. More information on both events is available on www.middlesexchamber.com, and I will continue to provide updates in this column as we get closer.

 

In closing, I ask that members and other interested parties save the date of Wednesday, December 19 for an important chamber morning in Cromwell. We look forward to welcoming as keynote speaker for the final time, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at our annual Governor’s Breakfast at the Red Lion Hotel. 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. Gov. Malloy has given eight years of his life to the State of Connecticut and he deserves our respect and appreciation. We look forward to thanking him for his service at this important chamber event on Dec. 19. I also appreciate the support of Eversource, who not only sponsors this breakfast meeting on an annual basis, but supports a number of other chamber programs and initiatives. The company will also sponsor an important workshop immediately following the Member Breakfast Meeting which will focus on emergency preparedness and economic resilience. Our working title for this event is “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. More information will be available in the coming weeks, but please save the date for this important morning.

 

November is moving right along, and the chamber team continues to be on the move. The sun always shines in Middlesex County!


This week, please vote, and thank a veteran

November 5, 2018

 

By: Larry McHugh

 

We have reached an important week in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation, the week that includes Election Day.

 

Election Day is not only a day when we choose our elected officials, but it is a symbol of our democracy, and it represents our commitment to a peaceful transfer of power and responsibility. It is very important that we do our civic duty, visit our polling stations, and participate in the election process. We are very lucky to live in a nation where we choose our leaders at the ballot box, and we should all take seriously, our responsibility to vote on Election Day. The ability to hold free and fair elections is of course only possible because of our veterans and those who serve our country at home and around the world.

 

Veterans Day, a special day that is designed to honor all the veterans that have served this nation with distinction and bravery, is this coming Sunday, Nov. 11. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce continues to support our active duty, reserves, and guard personnel, and the many local veterans that have served in the United States Armed Forces. Our 17th Annual Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting will be held this morning at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell, with keynote speaker Kevin Brown “Red Eagle”, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council of the Mohegan Tribe, and himself, a Retired United States Army Colonel. Two awards will be presented at this major event, the William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award, and the AT&T Veteran Support Business of the Year Award. The William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award is presented annually to a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces, in recognition of his or her distinguished service to the citizens of Connecticut and selfless commitment to public service. This year’s recipient is Morton “Morty” Pear of Middletown. Morty Pear is a fixture in the community and veterans affairs in Middlesex County. He is a terrific man with a record of service and of helping others. We are very proud of him and look forward to honoring him this morning. The AT&T Veteran Support Business of the Year Award is presented annually to a business that supports active duty military personnel, veterans, and their families through employment, philanthropy, spousal support, and other means. This year’s recipient is Liberty Bank. Liberty Bank supports all branches of the military and our veterans through job opportunities and volunteerism, funding Veteran’s organizations, supporting homeless veterans, and hosting collection drives. As I noted last week, the Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting would not be possible without the year round effort of a great committee led by Phil Cacciola. This event has become a key part of our Member Breakfast series over the years, and we look forward to another great edition this morning in Cromwell. I also want to thank the First Company Governor’s Foot Guard, the Middletown PBA Pipes and Drums, and everyone that has a role in making this annual event so special to so many.

 

A busy Monday continues at the chamber office at 12 Noon with a meeting of the chamber’s Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is our top governing body, and it is currently under the leadership of our Chairman, Jay Polke. I continue to appreciate the support of this outstanding group which is truly representative of the business community in Middlesex County. We look forward to another productive meeting which will cover a variety of important topics. In addition to the Executive Committee meeting, this week also features meetings of our Women’s Business Alliance, Portland and East Hampton Division, Environment and Infrastructure Committee, Cromwell Division, Health Care Council Steering Committee, and Young Professionals’ Alliance. As you can see, the chamber continues to be on the move on a number of fronts.

 

Thursday afternoon features an exciting Grand Opening celebration for The Wedding Dress, a quaint boutique conveniently located at 162 Main Street in Portland. The Wedding Dress features a diverse selection of unique wedding dresses for brides, bridesmaids, mothers, and flower girls, in addition to a wide selection of prom dresses, headpieces, custom veils, lingerie, jewelry, and shoes. I look forward to joining chamber Chairman Jay Polke, and Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield, and Economic Development Specialist Mary Dickerson as we officially welcome new owner Abbie Paklos and her team to their new location in one of our key member towns.

 

On Saturday, Wesleyan University’s 2018 Salute to Service Event will be held on campus as the university honors local veterans, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and parents who have served. At 12:00 p.m., the Wesleyan Cardinals football team will kick off vs. Trinity College, and at halftime of the game, the Middletown PBA Pipes and Drums will lead local veterans onto the field to be recognized for their service. I thank President Roth and the entire Wesleyan community for their continued support of local veterans and of so many community causes.

 

Looking ahead to later in the month, excitement continues to build for our upcoming Business After Work Networking Reception at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam on Nov. 28th. Our members and their guests always look forward to the delicious spread of food and drink provided by the Riverhouse team, along with outstanding networking opportunities that the event provides. The Business After Work event will feature the Central Business Bureau’s 2018 Festival of Wreaths Silent Auction. Beautifully decorated wreaths will be displayed for viewing and bidding until the auction closes at 6:45 p.m. The funds that are raised will benefit the Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, and the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program. Liberty Bank, annually donates the artificial wreaths for chamber member businesses to decorate, and we certainly appreciate that continued support. We look forward to a fun evening in Haddam on Wednesday night, and I want to once again thank Owner Jim Bucko, General Manager Hattie Donner, and the entire Riverhouse team for hosting this outstanding event.

 

Before closing, I want to mention how much I enjoyed the 90th Anniversary Celebration that was held at Malloves Jewelers on Saturday night at its Main Street Middletown location. Since the beginning, Malloves Jewelers has been known as an outstanding family business and a strong corporate citizen. Buzzy Levin was a strong supporter of mine and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce for many years. He was a great businessman but an even better person. His son Marc is a chip off the old block, and he has continued this tradition of conducting good and honest business in downtown Middletown, all while supporting the community the family loves. A percentage of sales from Saturday night will go directly towards the Community Foundation of Middlesex County. I am very proud of Marc and thank him and his team for their continued support of our chamber and for their continued dedication to Middletown.

 

I look forward to celebrating the longevity of another local business next Monday afternoon, Nov. 12, as Baci Grill in Cromwell celebrates 20 years in business with a brief 4:00 p.m. reception at its Berlin Road location. Sisters-in-law Brenda and Lynne Reilly have done a fantastic job with this local staple since it opened in 1998. I thank them for their longtime commitment to Cromwell, to Middletown through Tuscany Grill which they also own, to Middlesex County, and to our chamber. Since the beginning of their journey, Brenda and Lynne have provided delicious food, have supported many community causes, and have done it all with grace and class. Baci Grill is going strong, and I look forward to celebrating with Brenda, Lynne, Cromwell Mayor Enzo Faienza, Town Manager Tony Salvatore, and many other friends and supporters next Monday.

 

In closing, I ask that you be sure to do two important things this week, vote, and thank a veteran.

 

The Sun always shines in Middlesex County!


State House, Senate candidates to share platforms in Middletown

October 29, 2018

 

By: Larry McHugh

 

The month of November arrives this week in Middlesex County and throughout our great nation.

 

Before previewing some of the key events and activities from another busy month, I want to provide a quick wrap up of the 2018 Connecticut Connections event, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Showcase. The showcase featured a number of events and activities, from a Small Business Awards Luncheon which honored many of our county’s small business champions, to a Career Fair which featured over 42 employers and hundreds of job seekers, to the expo hall which featured over 100 exhibitors from a wide variety of industry sectors, a number of workshops which covered a variety of important topics, and the Executive Evening Business After Work networking reception which was very well attended by our members and their guests. I would like to once again thank our presenting sponsors, Comcast Business and the Red Lion Hotel Cromwell, media partner Hartford Business Journal, and all of our other sponsors and supporters for their great support of Connecticut Connections. I also want to thank our Expo Committee, led by Chairman Lou Brocket, our many volunteers, and the chamber staff who stepped up once again and executed a terrific event. Chamber Vice President Johanna Bond and Danielle Aletta from our team did a great job putting this busy day together. I appreciate all of their hard work and dedication.  This year’s business expo is in the books, but the chamber continues to move forward in support of the business community here in Middlesex County.

 

This week features a few important chamber meetings as the calendar moves from October to November. A month full of productive legislative candidate forums comes to a close on Tuesday morning as the All Middletown Division meets at The Connection on Roscommon Drive. All candidates that are running for House or Senate seats that cover any part of Middletown are invited to attend. We have had a great turnout from the candidates in our region and I very much appreciate their willingness to run and to serve. It is not easy to be in politics these days, and all of these individuals deserve our appreciation and respect. We wish them all well.

 

The chamber’s Women's Leadership Collaborative, presented by Citizens Bank, meets on Wednesday morning at our Main Street facility. The WLC is the premier regional resource for women to engage in professional development programs that promote personal and professional growth. The group hosted a very successful Elevate Women event at last week’s Connecticut Connections event that featured over 50 attendees. We look forward to a productive meeting of this important chamber group.

 

On Thursday morning, the Central Business Bureau meets at the chamber office at 8:00 a.m., and on Friday morning, the Chester, Deep River and Essex Division will gather at The Meeting House in Chester. As you can see, the chamber’s divisions and committees continue to produce important content for our members who come from a wide variety of industry sectors and from all over Middlesex County. On Sunday, I will attend a celebration at First Church of Middletown in honor its 350 years of faith. All are welcome to attend the gathering which will honor the church’s past, and help shape its future.

 

Next Monday, Nov. 5, chamber’s 17th Annual Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting will be held at the Red Lion Hotel Cromwell. Retired Army Colonel, and Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, Kevin Brown “Red Eagle” will serve as keynote speaker. Two awards will be presented at this major event, the William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award, and the AT&T Veteran Support Business of the Year Award. The William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award is presented annually to a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces, in recognition of his or her distinguished service to the citizens of Connecticut and selfless commitment to public service. This year’s recipient is Morton “Morty” Pear of Middletown. Morty Pear is a fixture in community and veterans affairs in Middlesex County. He is a terrific man with a record of service and of helping others. We are very proud of him and look forward to honoring him on Monday. The AT&T Veteran Support Business of the Year Award is presented annually to a business that supports active duty military personnel, veterans, and their families through employment, philanthropy, spousal support, and other means. This year’s recipient is Liberty Bank. Liberty Bank supports all branches of the military and our veterans through job opportunities and volunteerism, funding Veteran’s organizations, supporting homeless veterans, and hosting collection drives. Most recently in May of this year, Liberty Bank partnered with Save-A-Suit and WTNH News Channel 8 to collect suits, blazers, ties, shirts, women's items, dresses, and shoes for veterans returning home from active duty. Save-A-Suit is a Connecticut non-profit organization that supports local military men and women as they get reacquainted with the job interview process and look for long-term employment. I thank Chandler Howard and his team for being such a great corporate citizen, and we look forward to honoring them as well. We also look forward to welcoming Kevin Brown as keynote speaker. As Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, Kevin is responsible for maintaining the sovereignty that the Mohegan Tribe fought hundreds of years for, overseeing its numerous business entities and ensuring the well-being of its more than 2,100 Tribal citizens. He also serves as Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) Management Board which oversees numerous gaming entities across the country including Mohegan Sun; Mohegan Sun Pocono; Resorts Casino Hotel; Paragon Casino Resort; ilani Resort and two professional sports teams. A native of Montville, Connecticut, Kevin proudly served in the United States Army for 25 years, retiring as a Colonel in 2011 and deploying 5 times in service to our country. He served as a Platoon Leader with the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Company Commander in the 1st Cavalry Division in Kuwait during Operation Southern Watch & Intrinsic Action; Battalion Executive Officer in Thailand during Operation Cobra Gold; Battalion Commander in the 10th Mountain Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Deputy Brigade Commander for 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Kirkuk Iraq, and commanded the Garrison at Fort Riley Kansas. His numerous citations and awards during his military career include the prestigious Legion of Merit, 3 Bronze Stars Combat Infantryman’s Badge (2nd Award), Senior Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge and Ranger tab. He is a Doctoral Candidate in Security Studies from Kansas State University, and also earned a Master of Arts in Public Diplomacy from Norwich University, a Master of Science in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting would not be possible without the year round effort of a great committee led by Phil Cacciola. This event has become a key part of our Member Breakfast series over the years, and we look forward to another great edition on Monday.

 

In closing, I want to take a moment to honor the recent passing of a longtime friend, Roderick “Rod” MadDonald. Rod MacDonald was a volunteer Assistant Coach for me in the 1970’s and 1980’s at Xavier High School. Our players were so lucky to learn from Rod who played football for the U.S. Naval Academy, including in the 1960 Orange Bowl, and professionally in the Atlantic Coast Football League and the Continental Football League. After his very successful football career concluded, Rod and his brother Don purchased the 104-year old Washburn Dental Supply Company, in New Haven, CT. They ran Washburn for 28 years, and supported a number of causes and organizations along the way including as strong members of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Most importantly, Rod was a husband, father, brother and grandfather. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife of 51 years, Paula, his children, his brother and sister, and of course, his five beloved grandchildren. Rod MacDonald was a great businessman, football player and coach, but he was an even better person. He will be missed by many.


Middletown business expo includes 42 employeers looking for workers

October 22, 2018

 

By: Larry McHugh

 

Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Expo, will take place this Wednesday, October 24th, at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell.

 

This full day of events and activities will include the main expo hall with over 105 exhibitors from a wide variety of industry sectors, a career fair with over 42 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.

 

The general public is invited to visit with over 105 exhibitors, from a number of different industries, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 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.

 

The Middlesex County Fall Career Fair, featuring over 40 employers that are currently hiring, will be held from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Middlesex County Fall Career Fair is sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Workforce Alliance, and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Professional Resume Writers will be on site to assist in the development of resumes and cover letters. For a list of participating companies and positions available, please visit http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/jobfairs/.

 

The Small Business Awards Luncheon, sponsored by Comcast Business, will feature remarks from DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith and CNBC Senior Analyst & Commentator Ron Insana. I am proud to announce that the 2018 Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards recipients are: Business of the Year (1-30 employees)-Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, LLC, Middletown, Business of the Year (31+ employees)-Essex Savings Bank, Essex, Business Growth & Expansion-Reality Interactive, Middletown, Manufacturer of the Year-Ripley Tools, LLC, Cromwell, Minority Owned Business of the Year- Change, Inc., Middletown, Outstanding New Business Under 5 Years-Mizzi Cosmetics, Portland, Retail Business of the Year-Torrison Stone and Garden, Durham, Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year-The Griswold Inn, Essex, and Family Owned Business of the Year-A&A Office Systems, Inc., Middletown. We are very proud of our 2018 Small Business Award winners who were all nominated by other members of the chamber. They come from many different industry sectors, but they all share a commitment to Middlesex County and they are all great representatives of our business community. We look forward to celebrating their success on October 24.

 

Other events scheduled for Connecticut Connections include a Professional Photo Event where exceptional professional photos will be available for business marketing and other purposes, a workshop session titled, “It’s Your Business- Own it and Rock it!” where attendees will learn to develop essential skills that will improve their business, a Central Regional Tourism District hosted Tourism Brochure Swap that will connect key tourism stakeholders, a Tourism Steering Committee sponsored “Let’s Make A Deal,” event that will create package deals for the winter season, a MEWS+ hosted “Perfecting your Business Pitch” workshop designed for students and entrepreneurs, Elevate Women, a new chamber initiative that will bring women together to share their collective wisdom, build connections and grow, an important Eversource sponsored workshop titled, “Is Your Business Resilient to Serious Incidents or Disasters?”, and from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., the Chamber Leadership Cabinet and Chamber Insurance Trust, in partnership with Roundstone, will roll out a new Medical Captive available to Chamber of Commerce members with 20 or more enrollees. Attendees will learn how employers can gain control of their health benefits by utilizing this cost effective self-funding strategy historically used by large enterprises.

 

The members only Executive Evening Event, to be held from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., will feature a great spread of complimentary food, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks, over 105 exhibitors, raffle prizes, and terrific networking.  Also included in the Executive Evening Event is the Witch’s Brew, Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship Benefit Room. Proceeds will benefit Business Industry Foundation of Middlesex County.

 

Following the members only Executive Evening from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., stop by for a Trivia Night presented by the Young Professionals Alliance where teams of up to six will compete for fun prizes while networking and enjoying each other’s company.

 

As you can see, Connecticut Connections, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Expo, will be an excellent day full of exciting events and activities. For more information, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com. Join us!

 

In addition to the Expo event, this week features two exciting grand opening celebrations in Middletown. I look forward to joining chamber Chairman Jay Polke, Mayor Dan Drew, and Central Business Bureau Chairman Tom Byrne at the event for Miss Kelly’s Bakery and Café in Riverview Center on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Kelly Travers and her team will continue to provide delicious baked goods at this great local establishment which was formerly known as Fusion Bakery. We certainly wish them the best and look forward to working with them as we move forward. On Thursday afternoon, I will again join Jay, Tom and the mayor at the Grand Opening celebration for Cigar Social which recently opened in Main Street Market. Ericka Whalen is off to a great start with her new business that specializes in cigars and other creative gift options. We wish her nothing but the best as she begins this exciting new journey, and look forward to supporting her along the way.

 

Before closing, I want to take a moment to thank Essex Savings Bank, Connecticut Rental, and the Connecticut River Museum for their support of our the Membership Open House and Networking Reception which was held in Essex last Tuesday evening. The Open House featured close to 100 attendees, great networking between existing members and prospective members, and outstanding keynote remarks form Essex native Brad Galiette who serves as Product Manager at Google NYC. We will continue to host these important events in the down county region, and throughout our service area.

 

I am afraid I must close this week’s column on a sad note after the recent passing of Phil Murphy, a Middletown native and a 1975 graduate of Xavier High School. Phil was an outstanding player on the field for me and an even better young man. He was a good student and an all-conference player that was heavily recruited by a number of top colleges and universities. Phil ended up choosing South Carolina State where he was an All-American in football and track and field, and was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1980 NFL draft. He went on to play for the Rams in the National Football League, and played football in other professional leagues during the 1980’s. He is a member of Xavier's Hall of Honors and the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was also inducted into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in North Carolina. While his athletic achievements were remarkable, I will remember Phil as a great player who ended up becoming a lifelong friend. He was a large man with a large heart who cared deeply about his family and friends. A celebration of Phil’s life will be held will be held this Saturday, October 27, 2018 at Rock Community Church in Harleysville, PA. My thoughts and prayers are with Phil’s entire family and his vast network of friends at this difficult time. He will certainly be missed by many.


UConn Coach Hurley guest at next breakfast

October 15, 2018

 

By: Larry McHugh

 

We have reached mid-October in Middlesex County, and the chamber continues to be on the move.

 

This week is highlighted by two major events, a Membership Open House at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex on Tuesday evening, and a Member Breakfast Meeting with UConn Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dan Hurley at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell on Thursday morning.

 

The Membership Open House and Networking Reception will be held along the banks of the Connecticut River, outside the museum under a large tent, courtesy of Connecticut Rental, and the Connecticut River Museum. The event will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and food and drinks will be served, thanks to the sponsorship of Essex Savings Bank. The kickoff speaker at the open house is Essex native Brad Galiette who serves as Product Manager at Google NYC where he helps drive the roadmap and execution for Google's Display and Video Ad products. Growing up in the region, Brad is passionate about Middlesex County and is proud to speak about his experiences as a young professional who is succeeding in business. We have invited existing members and prospective members to what is sure to be a wonderful evening in Essex. The Connecticut River Museum strives to lead in the study, preservation, and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its valley. I thank the museum for hosting, Tom Byrne and Connecticut Rental for their support of the event, and Brad for his willingness to visit with our group. Finally, I want to thank Greg Shook and the entire team at Essex Savings Bank for sponsoring the event. Greg is a past chairman of our chamber and a longtime friend and supporter. We appreciate it very much. I know all of us look forward to a great event.

 

On the business development front, I look forward to joining chamber Chairman Jay Polke and Cromwell Mayor Enzo Faienza at the Grand Opening celebration for Super Hair & Nail Salon on Shunpike Road in Cromwell on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. I wish Peter Nguyen nothing but the best as he works to grow this new local business.

 

Thursday morning’s Member Breakfast Meeting with Coach Hurley, sponsored by our friends at ConnectiCare, will be a sold out chamber event. We look forward to welcoming the coach who comes to UConn from the University of Rhode Island (URI) where he enjoyed a very successful six year run as head coach. He will offer a preview of this year’s Husky team for the hoops fans in the audience, and will provide us with some insight on his leadership and management style. We look forward a great event on Thursday morning.

 

A busy and productive Thursday continues with a meeting of the chamber’s Board of Directors at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort in Middlefield from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. As I have noted many times, Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort is a key economic generator in our region along with its sister property in Portland, Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park. I congratulate Sean Hayes on his continued success in our region, and thank him for hosting an important meeting of our board.

 

The week closes with a meeting of the Connecticut Tourism Coalition on Friday at the Saybrook Point Inn. As I have noted many times, tourism is a critical economic generator in our state, and I look forward to attending this important meeting along with chamber Vice President Johanna Bond who also serves as Executive Director of the Central Regional Tourism District.

 

Speaking of major events, Middlesex County’s Premier Business Expo, Connecticut Connections 2018, is scheduled for next Wednesday, October 24 at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromwell. This full day of events and activities will include the main expo hall with over 105 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.

 

The general public is invited to visit with over 105 exhibitors, from a number of different industries, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 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.

 

The Middlesex County Fall Career Fair, featuring over 50 employers that are currently hiring, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Middlesex County Fall Career Fair is sponsored by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Workforce Alliance, and the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Professional Resume Writers will be on site to assist in the development of resumes and cover letters. For a list of participating companies and positions available, please visit http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/jobfairs/.

 

The Small Business Awards Luncheon, sponsored by Comcast Business, will feature remarks from DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith and CNBC Senior Analyst & Commentator Ron Insana. I am proud to announce that the 2018 Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Awards recipients are: Business of the Year (1-30 employees)-Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, LLC, Middletown, Business of the Year (31+ employees)-Essex Savings Bank, Essex, Business Growth & Expansion-Reality Interactive, Middletown, Manufacturer of the Year-Ripley Tools, LLC, Cromwell, Minority Owned Business of the Year- Change, Inc., Middletown, Outstanding New Business Under 5 Years-Mizzi Cosmetics, Portland, Retail Business of the Year-Torrison Stone and Garden, Durham, Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year-The Griswold Inn, Essex, Family Owned Business of the Year-A&A Office Systems, Inc., Middletown. We are very proud of our 2018 Small Business Award winners who were all nominated by other members of the chamber. They come from many different industry sectors, but they all share a commitment to Middlesex County and they are all great representatives of our business community. We look forward to celebrating their success on October 24.

 

The Business After Work Executive Evening Event for Members only, to be held from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., will feature a great spread of complimentary food, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks, over 105 exhibitors, raffle prizes, and terrific networking.  Also included in the Executive Evening event is the Witch’s Brew, Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship Benefit Room. Proceeds will benefit the Business Industry Foundation of Middlesex County.

 

More information on Connecticut Connections, a full day of events and activities, will be shared in next week’s column, and you can always visit www.middlesexchamber.com for more information.

 

After the Connecticut Connections Expo event wraps up, attention turns to the 17th Annual Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting which is scheduled for Monday, November 5, 2018. Retired United States Army Colonel Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, will serve as Keynote Speaker at this major event which is sponsored by Middlesex Hospital. As I noted last week, a key part of this event every year is the presentation of the William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award. This prestigious award, presented annually at our Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting, honors a Veteran of the United States Armed Forces for distinguished service to the citizens of Connecticut, and selfless commitment to public service. This year’s recipient is Morton “Morty” Pear of Middletown who has a fantastic record of veteran and community service. I will have much more as we get closer, but please save the date.

 

The sun always shines in Middlesex County


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