Middlesex County Business to Business Expo on horizon

October 10, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

October is moving right along in Middlesex County, and the chamber team is gearing up for Tuesday’s 2016 Business to Business Expo. Before getting into some of the details on expo happenings, I want to put a bow on what was a very busy Friday morning at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Our sold out Member Breakfast Meeting featuring UConn Head Men’s Basketball Coach Kevin Ollie was a huge success, and I want to once again thank Coach Ollie for visiting with our group, and ConnectiCare for sponsoring. The sold out crowd of chamber members and their guests left the ballroom fired up and looking forward to another season of Husky hoops. In addition to providing a preview of this year’s team, Coach Ollie provided some insights into his management style and his approach to leading these young men on and off the basketball court. We are lucky to have Kevin Ollie in our state, and we all wish him the best of luck as we get closer to the season. Our Prevention Committee and the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) led a workshop directly following the Member Breakfast Meeting titled “Painkillers & Opioids in the Workplace.” This session provided employers with insights on how to best help their employees manage pain in a responsible way, and explored what over-the-counter medications might be available and effective. The session also covered how to use opiates in a safe and healthy manner, and what alternative therapies might be available to individuals who are dealing with pain. MCSAAC Director Betsey Chadwick put together a fine panel that did a great job tackling this important topic. This workshop, which was attended by over 30 chamber members, capped off a very successful morning in Cromwell.

The 2016 Middlesex County Business to Business Expo is all systems go for this Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Expo will once again feature a full day of important activities and events including a Connecticut Tourism “Outlook” Breakfast, the Middlesex County Career Fair, the 2016 Small Business Awards Luncheon featuring DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith, a number of terrific workshops, the annual Health and Wellness Fair and the extremely popular Executive Evening Business After Work Networking Reception. The Business to Business Expo is presented by Comcast Business, The Radisson Hotel Cromwell and Updike, Kelly, & Spellacy, P.C., with media partner Hartford Business Journal.

The Middlesex County Fall Career Fair, featuring over 30 employers that are currently hiring, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 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 ctdol.state.ct.us/jobfairs. These attending companies will represent many different industry sectors so we encourage all local job seekers to attend. The Health and Wellness Fair, sponsored by Middlesex Hospital, will highlight best practices for promoting health and wellness in your company and in your life. The Health and Wellness Fair will include a flu vaccine clinic, blood pressure screenings, cholesterol screenings, bone density testing, balance testing and much more. Information will also be available on cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, rehabilitation, sleeping disorders, diabetes, adult and pediatric asthma, weight management for children, chronic heart failure, smoking cessation, urgent care services and wellness programs.

A number of important workshops will take place at the 2016 Business to Business Expo. The first is a session on Women in Leadership and How to Succeed in the Modern Age. This workshop will be led by Portland First Selectman Susan Bransfield, Durham First Selectman Laura Francis, and Haddam First Selectman Lizz Milardo. The second workshop for women in business is titled: Business Improv-The Fun Way to Amp Up Your Confidence and Lead presented by Ellen Ornato and Jenny Drescher of ConnectAnd Improv. An energy-focused workshop, Your Energy, Your Choice: Helping out Business Customers Understand Competitive Energy Supply, will be led by Kevin Charette, director of the call centers at Eversource, and Daryush Donyavi, supervisor, electric energy supplier services at Eversource. A workshop, Digital Strategy for your Tourism Business, will feature information on how to create an up-to-date digital strategy to enhance your business practices, increase your productivity and grow your revenue. A clean-energy workshop called Sustainable Solutions: Clean Energy and Electric Vehicle Options for Your Business will be presented. The workshop is sponsored by Eversource and speakers include Christie L. Bradway is the Manager of Renewable Power Contracts for Eversource and Watson Collins is the Manager of Business Development for Eversource. A workshop geared toward young professionals, Communicating in the Digital Age, will provide best practices for tapping one’s personal and leadership capabilities around the communication of digital social media, written communication, such as business writing and blogs; personal branding, public and small-arena speaking and nonverbal communication. Finally, another young professionals workshop will explore why volunteering in your community is so important. We look forward to these important workshops which will all feature valuable content.

This expo event recognizes the importance of tourism in our region as evidenced by the tourism outlook breakfast which kicks off the day. However, the chamber’s Tourism Steering Committee will also host a brochure swap for tourism- focused businesses, and a Let’s Make a Deal event will encourage our tourism partners to create exciting package deals in that help attract visitors to our region.

We recently announced the winners of our Small Business Awards, which will be presented at the annual Small Business Awards Luncheon featuring DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith. The 2016 winners are: Business of the Year Award (1-30 employees), Cromwell Automotive, Cromwell; Business of the Year Award (31+ employees), Saybrook Point Inn, Old Saybrook; Business Growth & Expansion Award, Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant, East Hampton; Manufacturer of the Year, Pratt & Whitney, Middletown; Minority-Owned Business of the Year, Tonia’s Tailoring, Middletown; Outstanding New Business Under 5 Years, iCRV/Radio, Ivoryton; Retail Business of the Year, Malloves Jewelers, Middletown; Tourism/Hospitality Business of the Year, Nehemiah Brainerd House Bed and Breakfast, Haddam. We are very proud of our 2016 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.

The members only Octoberfest Executive Evening Event, to be held from 4p.m. to 7p.m., will feature a great spread of complimentary food, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks, over 100 exhibitors, raffle prizes, and terrific networking.  Also included in the Executive Evening event is the Witch’s Brew, Lorraine C. McHugh Scholarship Benefit Room featuring several local breweries. Please join us for a full day of events and activities at the 2016 Middlesex County Business to Business Expo.

As I have previously mentioned, the chamber’s county based divisions host candidate forums every October so that our members have the opportunity meet and greet the candidates for public office in our region. This year, we are welcoming candidates for all House and Senate seats in Middlesex County. Our Portland and East Hampton Division kicked off these forums last Wednesday in East Hampton. The Durham and Middlefield Division meeting will take place this Wednesday at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, the Cromwell Division meeting will take place on Thursday at Chicago Sam’s, and the Chester, Deep River, and Essex Division meeting will take place on Friday at Deep River Town Hall. We look forward to fostering more productive dialogue between our candidates and our members.

Jeff Pugliese will represent the chamber at an important function on Thursday evening at The Riverhouse in Haddam which will honor Middlesex United Way Executive Director Kevin Wilhelm. The United Way is celebrating Kevin’s 25 years of terrific service to the organization and to the Middlesex community. Kevin has not only done a fine job leading the United Way, he has immersed himself into the community and has supported a number of chamber initiatives along the way including our Affordable Housing Committee and Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program. I congratulate Kevin on 25 years and thank him for his dedication to our region. I look forward to attending Mahoney Sabol & Company’s Fall Celebration on Thursday evening in Glastonbury. Mahoney Sabol is a longtime and strong supporter of our chamber. I appreciate the invitation to the event and look forward to catching up with their outstanding team including Jim Mahoney who has been a great leader in business and in the community, and Gary Gomola who is a longtime member of the chamber’s Executive Committee.

Next Tuesday, Oct. 18, the Middlesex County branch of the NAACP will host its annual dinner at Cross Street AME Zion Church. I very much look forward to presenting the NAACP’s Business Award at the event and continue to be proud and honored to have the award bear my name. This year’s winner is DATTCO, a third generation family-owned business. DATTCO has over 2,000 employees, including a strong presence in Middletown, multiple offices, terminals and service facilities throughout New England. DATTCO President Don Devivo is a great friend to our chamber, and I look forward to honoring him and his terrific company at the dinner next Tuesday night.

Finally, I ask that everyone please save the date of Monday, November 7, when our 15th Annual Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting will be held. This event, sponsored by Middlesex Hospital, will feature Captain Paul Whitescarver, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine Base, New London as guest speaker. As a key part of the breakfast event, the chamber’s 2016 William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award will be presented to Lawrence “Larry” Riley. I am very proud that Larry Riley is the 2016 Pomfret Award recipient. He has a remarkable record of serving our country and our community and is deserving of this prestigious award.

The weather is cooling off, the calendar is packed with events and activities, and the chamber continues to be on the move.

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