3 important Middlesex County business meetings lie ahead

January 30, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

A busy January wraps up this week and the chamber team is on the move as the month of February begins.

Last Monday morning, chamber Vice President Jeff Pugliese and Workforce Development Director Lorenzo Marshall attended an event at the Middletown Elks Lodge hosted by United States Senator Chris Murphy. Sen. Murphy has been visiting Connecticut manufacturing facilities throughout the past year, and this event celebrated his 100th visit and the overall importance of manufacturing to Connecticut’s economy. I applaud the senator for his efforts in this area and appreciate his support of many of our members in this critical industry sector.

Jeff and Lorenzo also attended Middlesex United Way’s Annual Meeting on Thursday morning in Haddam. I want to again congratulate the fine community individuals that were honored at the event, David Director- Community Service Award, The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness- Community Impact Award, Joe Santaniello- Community Leadership Award, and The Community Foundation of Middlesex County- Tocqueville Society Philanthropy Award, along with Kevin Wilhelm and his team for another successful event.

The chamber’s 2017 Legislative Breakfast, sponsored by Comcast, was held last Friday morning at the Courtyard by Marriott in Cromwell. It was a terrific session and I want to thank the legislators who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the event. They are: Senators Paul Doyle, Paul Formica, Len Suzio, and Art Linares, and State Reps. Devin Carney, Christie Carpino, Joe Serra, Melissa Ziobron, Bob Siegrist, Buddy Altobello, and Matt Lesser. The event featured a good discussion between our members and these elected leaders on important topics such as the state budget, transportation, energy, tourism and environmental policy. I also want to thank Comcast for sponsoring the event. Vice President of State Government Affairs Rob Earley did a fine job with his remarks on behalf of the company, and our Legislative Committee co-chairs, Rich Carella and Maureen Westbrook, did an outstanding job as moderators. The chamber has some additional legislative events coming up, including a meeting with Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz on February 27, and Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano on March 20. We are also in the process of scheduling meetings with Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides. We will continue to stay engaged throughout this important legislative session.

I would like to take a moment to congratulate Roto Frank North America for receiving the 2016 Customer Value Champion award from the International Roto Group. The prestigious award was presented by Dr. Eckhard Keill, CEO and chair for Roto Frank AG, at the January Roto Group Leadership Conference held in Munich, Germany. The Customer Value Champion award measures the long term performance and development of a company in the marketplace, based on an independently performed customer value analysis. Roto Frank North America President and CEO Chris Dimou is a member of our Board of Directors and is a terrific corporate leader and citizen.

February will be off to a fast start this week with three important chamber division meetings throughout Middlesex County. Our Portland & East Hampton Division meets on Wednesday morning at Portland Library. This meeting will feature an Economic Development Update for the town of East Hampton along with other local and legislative updates. Our Central Business Bureau meets on Thursday morning at the chamber office. This meeting, hosted by Middlesex Community College, will feature updates from Mayor Dan Drew and many of the city’s key department directors. On Friday, the Chester, Deep River, Essex Division will hold their February meeting at Essex Savings Bank in Essex. Lt. Eric Peck, Commander, Troop F, Westbrook, State Police will be in attendance. Our divisions continue to play a critical role in the chamber’s success.

The chamber’s February Member Breakfast Meeting, featuring United States Senator Richard Blumenthal, will be held on Friday, February 24, at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell. Networking begins at 7:00 a.m., Breakfast Buffet opens at 7:45 a.m., and the Meeting Program runs from 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. Senator Blumenthal has some important committee assignments down in Washington D.C. including Veterans Affairs, Judiciary, Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Armed Services. We look forward to welcoming him back to Middlesex County. I would like to thank Hospital for Special Care for sponsoring the event and for their continuing support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. HSC is a fantastic hospital, and it continues to do terrific work addressing the special health needs of the many communities they serve. We look forward to another successful chamber Member Breakfast Meeting on Feb. 24.

The chamber’s next Business After Work networking reception will be held Monday, Feb. 27 at the Sheraton Hartford South in Rocky Hill. In addition to a great spread of food and drink for our members and their guests, this event will feature outstanding networking and will provide our friends at the Sheraton Hartford South with the opportunity to showcase their terrific facility. I want to thank General Manager Lori Brooks, Director of Group Sales and Business Travel Gina Molde, Director of Sales Jamie O’Connor, Director of Catering Jen Gokey, and the entire team for hosting our group. We look forward to this great networking event on Feb. 27.

I want to close this week’s column by acknowledging the loss of a friend, mentor and a fantastic man, Brother James Michael Boyle, C.F.X. of the Xaverian Brothers Community at Xavier High School. Brother James’ life was spent helping hundreds of young men. He was an educational leader who truly cared, and he definitely made a positive difference in our region. He was Assistant Principal at Xavier High School in Middletown from 1967 to 1974, and Principal from 1976 to 1982. After his return to Xavier High School in 1995, he served at times as an Administrative Assistant and Director of the Brothers Community until his retirement. The funeral service held last Friday at St. Pius X Church in Middletown was a true celebration of this truly caring man. He was a man of deep faith and was always committed to helping others. Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family, the Xaverian Brothers Community, and his vast network of friends at this difficult time. Brother James Boyle will be missed.

James F. “Jim” Murray, a longtime fixture in the city of Middletown, also passed away last Monday. Jim was a veteran of the United States Army and retired from Pratt & Whitney after a 30 year career with the company. More recently, Jim did a terrific job as a Main Street guide for the Downtown Business District where he worked out of the chamber office. He got to know the downtown businesspeople on a personal level, and was always willing to offer a helping hand. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s daughters, Lisa and Sheryl, his brothers Richard and Dennis, his sister Eileen, his four grandchildren, and his entire network of family and friends. Jim Murray was a good man, he was Irish to the core, and he will be missed. 

Both of these men lived full lives and they were both admired by many people. May their families find comfort in this fact, and may they rest in peace.

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