Notice:  Route 9 North, Exit 18 will be closed to traffic on Saturday, October 29th from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., due to an event!  Main Street (Route 99) in Cromwell will be closed to traffic from Route 372 (West St.) to South St. for “Halloween On Main Street”.  To access the event, take Exit 19 on Route 9 North.

Connecticut Business Day is Wednesday at the Capitol

March 7, 2016

By Larry McHugh

March is off to a fast start in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

The 2016 First Niagara Workshop Series continues tomorrow, March 8th, with a business workshop focused on Time Management. An inability to manage time efficiently can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and unproductive. This important session will explore practical techniques that members can use immediately to gain control over their day. Attendees will learn how to plan and prioritize more effectively, while managing interruptions and distractions.  Those who attend will benefit not only professionally, but personally as well. This session will be held at the chamber office building on Main Street in Middletown. Cost is $35 for chamber members and $45.00 for non-members. Registration information can be found at The 2016 First Niagara Workshop Series has been very successful, and I want to once again thank New England Regional President Jeff Hubbard, Vice President of Corporate Banking Dante Fazzina who serves on our Board of Directors, and the entire First Niagara team for their support.
Chairman Vincent Capece noted that a business announcement was held on Thursday March 3, 2016 for All American Productions, an event planning organization specializing in charity fundraisers for veterans.Chairman of Middletown Motorcycle Mania Richard Greco, President of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce Larry McHugh,Owner/Operator of All American Productions Jennifer Sequenzia, Middletown Mayor Dan Drew.
I look forward to attending the Workforce Alliance Annual Meeting tomorrow afternoon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Wallingford along with Chamber VP Jeff Pugliese and Workforce Development Director Lorenzo Marshall. Workforce Alliance works to improve the delivery of workforce services in close collaboration with business, education leaders, training providers, and local elected officials. It is a strong and longtime partner with our chamber on important workforce development issues in Middlesex County. I am glad that members of our team will attend the event to support Executive Director Bill Villano and the terrific staff at Workforce Alliance. In addition to being the primary funder of the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program since 2006, Workforce Alliance also supports the Middlesex County Job Seeker and Employer Outreach and Recruitment Initiative which supports our efforts to connect local job seekers with the terrific employers of our region, and the Ready To Work initiative which offers employers hiring incentives in the fields of Information Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing. We continue to appreciate the strong support of Bill and his team.

As the 2016 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly rolls along, the chamber continues to participate in, and host, a number of important legislative events. Connecticut Business Day 2016, Sponsored by CBIA and the Connecticut Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (CACCE), is scheduled for this Wednesday, March 9th at the State Legislative Office Building in Hartford. This event brings in business leaders from around the state with the goal of connecting them to their local legislative delegation, and helping them to gain deeper insights into the issues being debated in Hartford. A DATTCO bus will transport Middlesex Chamber members to the Legislative Office Building free of charge. Members will depart from the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell at 8:45 a.m. The bus will leave the Legislative Office Building around 12:30 p.m., and will return to the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. There is no charge for the bus or for Connecticut Business Day.

The chamber’s 2016 Legislative Leadership Series kicks off this Friday as we welcome Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey to a special meeting at the Inn at Middletown. At this special meeting, Speaker Sharkey will visit with chamber members to discuss the 2016 legislative session. The chamber’s Board of Directors and Legislative Committee will have the opportunity to ask questions about the session, and discuss some important issues on our 2016 Public Policy Agenda. This event is sponsored by our friends at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. The Legislative Leadership Series continues on Monday, April 11th, as we welcome Senate Majority Leaders Bob Duff, and on Monday April, 25th, as we welcome Republican leaders of the House of Representatives and the State Senate. The chamber will continue to stay engaged throughout this important legislative session.

There are a number of other important chamber meetings this week including our Durham & Middlefield Division on Wednesday, and our Cromwell Division and Golf Committee on Thursday. The Durham & Middlefield Division meeting, to be held at Independent Day School in Middlefield, will feature representatives from Eversource Energy who will give a presentation on Understanding Energy Costs and regional infrastructure projects that will impact the state’s energy landscape over the next several years. Representatives from CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) will also be at the meeting to present on best practices for the choosing of an electric supplier in the State of Connecticut. These presentations have been given at many of our divisions already, and they have been very well received so far. The Cromwell Division meeting will be held at Autumn Lake Healthcare, and in addition to town updates from the Mayor, the Town Manager, and other key town officials, Middlesex Hospital Vice President for Strategic Planning and Ambulatory Operations Gary Havican, and Vice President for Clinical Affairs Dr. Bud McDowell, will give a presentation on the hospital’s recent initiatives including its exciting partnership with the Mayo Clinic. This presentation was given at our Portland & East Hampton Division last Wednesday, and it was very well received. On Thursday night, the chamber’s Golf Committee will hold its March meeting to continue planning for our 33rd Annual Golf Tournament which is scheduled for Friday, May 6, 2016. Our members are very excited for this year’s event which is always a sold out affair. I appreciate the efforts of our Golf Committee, and of Chamber VP Johanna Bond who does a wonderful job with the planning and execution of this major event on an annual basis.

An exciting Grand Opening Celebration for Cinder and Salt is scheduled for this Friday, March 11th at 4:00 p.m. at its 520 Main Street location. Cinder and Salt is a lifestyle brand that offers eco-friendly and sustainably designed products including clothes, bags and much more for men, women and children. I look forward to joining Mayor Dan Drew and other local leaders as we officially welcome Rachel Decavage and her team to the local business community.

The excitement continues to build locally for next Monday’s Member Breakfast Meeting featuring UCONN Head Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma. We expect a sold out crowd for this major event with Coach Auriemma which is sponsored by MiddleOak. Gary Vallo, MiddleOak CEO and member of the chamber’s Executive Committee, will introduce the coach and will offer some remarks on behalf of the company. As I noted last week, this year’s visit from Coach Auriemma will take place right before the start of the NCAA Tournament. I again want to thank the coach for visiting with our group, and certainly MiddleOak for sponsoring, and for their ongoing support of our chamber and our community.

Immediately following the event with the coach, the chamber will partner with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) on a Regional Economic Development Forum. The event is designed to help spread the word on how DECD and CERC are working together to help businesses grow in Connecticut. Commissioner Catherine Smith will introduce the regional point of contact from DECD, and will discuss the state’s new initiatives to fuel job growth – while CERC will present an overview of new business and municipal resources for economic growth.  The event will also provide an opportunity for Q&A and a discussion on how we can further work together to foster economic development success. 

There is an important community forum scheduled for next Monday evening at the Westbrook Library. The title of the event is Painkiller Use to Opiate Abuse to Heroin Epidemic. It is a horrifying truth that Connecticut loses hundreds of citizens every year to opiate overdoses. Thousands more are addicted and still more are in recovery. State’s Attorney Peter McShane and State Trooper Wayne Buck will discuss the sources of excess opiates including doctor-shopping, pill peddling, heroin sales – and what they’re doing about it. Dr. J. Craig Allen, MD will address trends in painkiller use, how it can lead to addiction and heroin use, and doctors’ response to the crisis. DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon will speak about resources for treatment and prevention at the state level. Rounding out the panel is a young person in recovery who will describe the slow journey back from addiction. This event is sponsored and hosted by Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council, and I want to once again thank MCSAAC Director Betsey Chadwick for her terrific work on this extremely important topic. This issue is important for families, for schools, for employers, and for our entire community.

The 32nd Annual Business After Work Auction & Taste of Downtown is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29, 2016. The event will once again be held at The Italian Society of Middletown on Court Street. A number of Middletown’s terrific downtown restaurants will be featured, as they offer delicious samplings from their menus. Complimentary beer, wine, soda and a "Special Drink" of the evening will also be provided for attending members of our chamber. The Live Auction begins at approximately 5:45 p.m. This portion of the event includes approximately 100 items which may be previewed in advance, and a Silent Auction will also be held throughout the event. This year’s event is titled “The Mustache Bash”, so please save the date, and all the men that plan to attend, should begin growing their best mustache now.

Spring is on the horizon, and the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit