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.

Middlesex County Chamber to host meeting on downtown parking, pedestrians

May 16, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached the middle of May in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

I would like to kick off this week’s column by thanking Eversource Energy for their generous funding of the Side Street to Main Street Supplemental Program Business “Know-How” which began its fifth year last Wednesday, May 11th.  Designed as a companion to the award winning Side Street to Main Street Business & Leadership Development Program sponsored by Aetna, Inc., and now entering its 20th year, Business “Know-How” offers a bridge for minority business owners who applied for, but did not win a place in this main program. These terrific community and business development programs are truly making a difference.

The official groundbreaking for the new FedEx Ground Middletown Hub was held last Thursday morning at the site on Middle Street. The event featured remarks from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Mayor Dan Drew and Alex Kapinos who handles logistics and supply chain operations for FedEx Ground. Distinguished guests that also attended the event include: DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith, Middlesex Hospital CEO and Chamber Chairman Vin Capece, State Senator Paul Doyle, Hal Strider of the Barton Malow Company, and Middletown Common Council members Tom Serra, Gerry Daley, Grady Faulkner, Mary Bartolotta and Rob Blanchard. As I noted last week, the FedEx project will create over 400 permanent jobs, hundreds of part time positions, and a number of construction jobs as the project comes to fruition. We look forward to a productive partnership with this outstanding global company.

This week is another busy one featuring a number of important meetings and events throughout the region. This Wednesday morning, the chamber will host another meeting of the property owners and key stakeholders on the Washington to Court Street block in Middletown to discuss the parking and pedestrian situation. The meeting will feature another update from the city on the revised changes that are planned for the area. The past two meetings have been very productive and have allowed these property owners the opportunity to weigh in on this important project. As I have previously noted, these meetings are designed to develop ways in which we can foster collaboration between stakeholders, and to make sure that the process is as smooth and efficient as possible. The chamber will continue to stay engaged in this important process for downtown Middletown, and will continue to provide a forum for property owners and city officials.

This Thursday afternoon, the chamber’s Board of Directors will hold its May meeting at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown. Vin Capece and his team at the hospital has hosted this meeting in the month of May for many years, and we appreciate it very much. The meeting will feature reports from key chamber staff members and committee chairs, along with discussions on important economic development and infrastructure initiatives that are either underway or planned for our region. We continue to appreciate the support of Vin, who is currently doing a terrific job as chamber chairman, and his entire team.

I look forward to attending an illustrated talk in the Hubbard Room of Russell Library this Thursday evening. The subject of the event will be the amazing life of Biagio "Max" Corvo of Middletown. The talk will be led by Max’s son, Bill Corvo. Max Corvo came to Middletown at the age of 9 from Melilli, Sicily. When World War II broke out, he enlisted as a private at the age of 22 to fight for his adopted country, the United States of America. Max was integral in the development of an espionage and partisan warfare project designed to free fascist controlled Italy. While it is clear that Max was a true patriot and American hero, his home country was never far from his mind. Max was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant, was transferred to the OSS, and joined other true patriots, including others from Middletown, to put the plan in motion. Bill has certainly made his mark as an amateur historian, and I look forward to his presentation on his father and his heroic efforts on Thursday evening.

The Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program Year End Celebration Picnic will be held on Friday at the Connecticut Valley Hospital Picnic Grounds. I would like to first thank Helene Vartelas, Chief Executive Officer of CVH, for annually hosting this picnic for the mentors and mentees of this important community program. The Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, initiated in 1992, is a partnership between the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce and the Middletown Board of Education that has achieved notable success. This program provides local students with mentors. Mentors are good listeners, people who care, and people who want to help young people bring out the strengths that are already there. Mentors are employees of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce member business affiliates, employees from the City of Middletown, including the Police and Fire Departments, and private individuals. I look forward to celebrating another successful year of mentoring with mentor coordinator Sylvia Webb, mentors, mentees, sponsors, supporters and friends of the program.

An exciting Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Celebration for Mr. Automotive in Middletown is scheduled for this Friday at 4:00 p.m. Mr. Automotive is a local and family owned auto shop that can service all domestic and foreign vehicles and motorcycles. We look forward to celebrating with their entire team at this event which will include food vendors, raffles, music and much more. We wish their entire team the best of luck moving forward.

The chamber’s May Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 26th. This important event will feature remarks from Edison Liu, CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit organization focusing on mammalian genetics research to advance human health. Their mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health. The Jackson Laboratory is doing amazing work in the genomic research field, and their entry into the state of Connecticut is proving to be a major economic development initiative. The Jackson Laboratory, in partnership with the state, has constructed a new nonprofit research institute in Farmington on the campus of the UCONN Health Center. This important facility for our state is called The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. The chamber supported this major economic development and research initiative from the beginning, and we look forward to hearing Dr. Liu’s remarks about the progress they are making in Farmington and with their research. This Member Breakfast Meeting is sponsored by our friends at Farmington Bank, and I would like to once again take a moment to thank John Patrick and the Farmington Bank team for their strong support of this event and of our chamber.

This breakfast with Dr. Liu will be immediately followed by the 2016 Middlesex County Energy Forum. This event, sponsored by Eversource, Connecticut Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Pullman & Comley LLC, will feature a packed agenda full of outstanding content focused on economic development through energy efficiency. The forum will include: an update on Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy, an energy focused Economic Forecast, a State of Connecticut and Middlesex County energy infrastructure update, an update on best practices for energy efficiency and Energize CT Initiatives. Finally, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa Manager Partner Stephen Tagliatela and Green Team Leader Kate Mosely will present at the forum on the many exciting green initiatives that they have implemented on their beautiful property in Old Saybrook. We look forward to a terrific Member Breakfast Meeting and Energy Forum on the morning of May 26th.

The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, June 7, 2016 at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell. Annual Dinner is of course a very important event for our organization. The evening will begin with Conversation Hour at 5:30 p.m., and the Dinner and Meeting Program will begin at 6:30 p.m. As I announced last week, our 2016 Distinguished Citizen Honorees are Darlene Briggs, Chandler J. Howard, and Larry W. Marino. These three outstanding individuals have shown a longtime commitment to our chamber, to our region, and to community service. We look forward to joining them and their families to celebrate this well-deserved honor. The Michael L. Green Award, presented annually to a member of the police or fire community for his or her outstanding service to the community and to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, will also be presented at the Annual Awards Dinner. This year’s recipient is Middletown Emergency Management Director, and former Middletown Fire Chief, George P. Dunn. George is a true gentleman who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in Middletown. We look forward to honoring him as well on June 7th. The event will also include the formal presentation of the chamber’s scholarship awards to three outstanding Middlesex County high school students. Finally, the Annual Awards Dinner will mark the official handover of the chamber’s chairmanship from Middlesex Hospital CEO Vin Capece to Essex Savings Bank President Greg Shook. Vin has done an outstanding job in this leadership role over the past year. He has been a pleasure to work with and I want to thank him personally and on behalf of the chamber for serving as our chairman. Greg is another fine corporate leader and citizen, and we look forward to another strong year under his leadership. I will have more on the 2016 Annual Awards Dinner as we get closer, but please be sure to save the date.

The month of May is moving right along, and the sun continues to shine on Middlesex County.

For more information on chamber events and activities, please visit