From the Middlesex Chamber: Closing out the year on a positive note

December 26, 2016

By: Larry McHugh

The holiday season continues in Middlesex County, and the chamber team is looking to close the year out on a positive note as we look ahead to 2017.

Last Sunday, I was honored to attend and speak at a special birthday party in honor of Carolyn Adams who is retiring after over 42 years in business. Carolyn Adams Country Barn, which is closing in early 2017, has been an institution in Durham and Middlesex County for decades. The party celebrated Carolyn’s 92nd birthday, and I was honored to say a few words as did Durham First Selectwoman Laura Francis. I appreciate Carolyn’s longtime commitment to our region and longtime support of our chamber. I wish her the best as she enters retirement, and certainly hope she makes time to enjoy her family and her many friends.

I was happy to attend the Liberty Bank Holiday Social which was held in the main lobby of the Main Street facility last Wednesday evening. I very much enjoyed my time as a member of the Liberty Bank Board of Directors, and have always appreciated the bank’s strong support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. I am so honored that the board room at Liberty’s headquarters was named after me, and so appreciative of Chandler Howard for bringing my wife Patty and me up to the board room to show us a newly installed plaque which bears my name. It was a very enjoyable and heartwarming evening that gave me the opportunity to see a number of friends and colleagues, and that is what the holidays are all about.

I also very much enjoyed a productive lunch meeting that was held last Monday with Joe Samolis from the City of Middletown, and Wesleyan’s Vice President for Finance and Administration Nate Peters and Chief of Staff to the President Andy Tanaka. I am so proud that the partnership between Wesleyan, the city and the chamber continues to grow stronger as we enter 2017. Excitement is building for the opening of Wesleyan’s downtown bookstore, in partnership with RJ Julia, in late spring of 2017. Nate and Andy and a number of other key Wesleyan leaders are working with Jeff Pugliese on Middletown’s application to become an Innovation Place, or an area that is especially attractive to entrepreneurs, high growth companies and young professionals. This is an exciting initiative, and we will have much more to share in the coming weeks and months.

The chamber’s Holiday Luncheon for staff and past board chairs was held last Thursday afternoon. In a real tribute to our organization, 18 past chairs of our Board of Directors attended the event. This chamber has been so fortunate over the years to have unbelievable leadership in the chairperson’s position. Going all the way back to Harry Burr’s chairmanship in 1990-1991, through this year’s chairman in Greg Shook, the party was attended by the best that Middlesex County has to offer. It was a great way for our past chairs and me to thank the chamber staff which works so hard on a number of different fronts throughout the year. I continue to appreciate everyone’s strong support of our work on behalf of the business community.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge a former chamber employee who is doing great things in his professional career. Kevin Marotta, who was a valued member of the chamber staff in the early 2000’s, has been hired by MSG Networks as senior vice president of marketing and content strategy. In his new role, Kevin will oversee all on and off-air marketing and promotional activities of MSG Networks brands, as well as the development, integration and implementation of cross platform content strategies. Kevin has performed very well in his roles at LeadDog Marketing and for the Madison Square Garden Company, and I know that MSG Networks is getting a true professional and a real team player. I am proud of Kevin and wish him continued success.

Next week’s chamber column will kick off the new year, and will provide additional information on important January events including: the first 2017 session of the chamber’s KeyBank Seminar Series on Jan. 10 which will focus on Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, our 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, the first chamber Member Breakfast Meeting of the year on Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell featuring  Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill, and the 2017 Legislative Breakfast which is scheduled for Jan. 27. As always, information on chamber events and activities can be found at www.middlesexchamber.com.

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 once again thank Comcast Business for its strong support of Taste of Middlesex County which is an exciting week for our chamber and for our region. Save your appetite for the week of January 16-22, and please visit one or more of our many wonderful participating restaurants. The current list of participating restaurants is as follows: Amici Italian Grill, Eli Cannon's Tap Room, El Pulpo & Tapas Bar, Hachi, Lan Chi’s Vietnamese Restaurant, Mattabesett Canoe Club at Harbor Park, Moonlight Sushi Bar & Grill, Tavern at the Armory, and Tuscany Grill in Middletown, Baci Grill and Sheffield's Restaurant and Lounge at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell, Angelico’s Lake House Restaurant, Rossini's Italian Restaurant, and WAVES in East Hampton, Fire at the Ridge and Ridgeside Tavern in Middlefield, Griswold Inn in Essex, and On the Rocks at Fox Hopyard in East Haddam. Please visit the Taste of Middlesex County tab on www.middlesexchamber.com and keep an eye for additional participating restaurants as we get close to Jan. 16.

Thank you again for an outstanding 2016, and on to the new year!

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