Wesleyan bookstore’s Main Street move business news of week

December 5, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

Last week featured a number of important events and activities including some very exciting news made by Wesleyan University which announced that in partnership with RJ Julia Booksellers, the university is relocating its bookstore to 413 Main Street in Middletown. An official announcement and ribbon cutting was hosted by Wesleyan President Michael Roth last Wednesday afternoon at the downtown site. This is great news for downtown, for the entire city, and for Wesleyan University. The bookstore will be an economic driver which will bring Wesleyan students, faculty and staff to a key part of Main Street on a regular basis. The partnership with RJ Julia, which is one of the premier independent booksellers in the nation, is fantastic for Middletown and is something that we should all celebrate. I was honored to join President Roth and RJ Julia Booksellers owner and CEO Roxanne Coady for the event, and look forward to working with them and their respective teams as this project comes to fruition. President Roth had a vision for moving Wesleyan’s bookstore downtown and I very much appreciate his commitment to seeing the process through. I thank him for his leadership on this project, and on many other fronts. Wesleyan University is a key stakeholder in Middletown and in Middlesex County and it continues to be a valued partner on a number of community initiatives. Roxanne Coady is a true professional and RJ Julia Booksellers is one of the real gems in the State of Connecticut. Its entry into the City of Middletown is really exciting. I also want to thank Mayor Dan Drew, his Chief of Staff Joe Samolis and his team for their hard work and dedication to seeing this process through, and Wesleyan Vice President for Finance and Administration Nate Peters and Associate Vice President for Facilities Joyce Topshe who were instrumental in this process. Finally, I want to thank Mike Stone who owns 413 Main Street for working so well with all the parties involved, and Jackie Williams of Sterling Realtors for all of her efforts in support of this initiative. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce looks forward to being a constructive partner as this exciting and important Middletown project moves forward. 

The 31st Annual Holiday on Main Street, presented by Pratt & Whitney, is going strong with two busy Saturdays still to come. This Saturday, Dec. 10, is Rotary Club of Middletown Day at Holiday on Main Street. Planned events and activities include the Fun Train, which will offer free rides on the sidewalk around downtown, and free rides for children and adults on two mechanical animals, Maurice the Great Christmas Moose and Sno-Cat The Siberian Snow Tiger. Families will also have the opportunity to meet and greet Santa and take free horse & wagon rides in downtown Middletown. Adelbrook’s Sense-Able Solutions Indoor Winter Wonderland will be held at the lower level of 100 Riverview Center, and the Holiday Photo Booth, offering free holiday themed photos, will be set up in front of Holy Trinity Church. Holiday Story Time, featuring Santa Claus reading stories to children, will be held at Main Street Market from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Volunteers from Rotary Club of Middletown will staff the Popcorn & Hot Pretzels stand in front of the chamber building, and holiday music played by Harvest Woods Audio will entertain the large crowd that we expect to have once again. Holiday on Main Street concludes on Saturday, Dec. 17.  Parking for Holiday on Main Street is free in City parking lots. For all of the details on events and activities, please visit www.holidayonmain.com.

Our member realtors and other chamber member professionals who support the real estate industry are looking forward to our Annual Real Estate Council Holiday Gathering which his scheduled for this Tuesday at the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station in Haddam. The event is once again sponsored by McCue Mortgage, and I thank Bill McCue and his team for their annual support of this chamber event. The Real Estate Council, under the leadership of Co-Chairs David Gallitto and Diane Sayers, 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. Also on Tuesday, our Women’s Business Alliance Holiday Social & Networking Event will be held at 5 p.m. at the Inn at Middletown. The Women’s Business Alliance (WBA), under the leadership of Barbara Taylor-Hatje, is a council of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce that provides challenges and opportunities to educate, enrich, and explore issues for women in business. Our members look forward to both of these holiday themed chamber events.

I very much look forward to attending the official grand re-opening celebration for First and Last Tavern on Main Street this Thursday afternoon, Dec. 8. New owner Tony Scacca and his team have put a lot of time, energy and resources into the recent renovation of First and Last, and the restaurant looks terrific. All of us look forward to working with Tony and appreciate his commitment to our city and to the Middlesex business community.

I also look forward to attending the MARC Community Resources Holiday Open House this Thursday afternoon, Dec. 8, which will officially welcome their new Development Director Kandyce Aust to the MARC team and to the Middletown community. MARC continues to do great work by providing training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The main chamber event coming up in December is our annual Governor’s Breakfast Meeting which is scheduled for next Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, now approaching his seventh year in office, 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 appreciate the strong support of Eversource who not only sponsors this breakfast meeting on an annual basis, but supports a number of other chamber programs and initiatives. We look forward to welcoming Gov. Malloy and a number of other key state officials as part of a sold out crowd of chamber members and their guests.

Looking ahead to January, the chamber’s first Business After Work networking reception of the new year will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 11 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 this project which is creating jobs and additional tourism buzz for our region.

Also planned for the month of January is the second annual "Taste of Middlesex County" which is brought to you by Comcast Business. Taste of Middlesex County is scheduled for January 16-22. 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 will be a fixed price 3-course meal for $20.17 (does not include beverages, tax or gratuity). I want to thank Comcast Business for its strong support of Taste of Middlesex County, and Johanna Bond from the chamber team who has put in a lot of time and effort on coordination and logistics. Save your appetite for the week of January 16-22, and please visit one or more of our many wonderful participating restaurants. More info to come!

The chamber’s 2017 Legislative Breakfast will take place on Friday, Jan. 27 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. This event, sponsored by Comcast, will feature legislators that represent the 15 Middlesex County towns. The Legislative Breakfast represents a great opportunity, on an annual basis, for our members to network with these important elected leaders. The chamber remains committed to promoting a positive business climate in Middlesex County, and we will certainly stay engaged with our delegation and with legislative leadership throughout this upcoming session. More information on the Legislative Breakfast, and on the chamber’s legislative activities, will be shared as the 2017 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly approaches.

The holidays are inching closer, and the chamber continues to be on the move.

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