Manufacturers’ Council to meet at Pegasus this week

February 20, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

It’s another busy week in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

There are a few important chamber committee and division meetings scheduled for this week. Our Manufacturers’ Council will hold its first meeting of 2017 on Tuesday morning at Pegasus Manufacturing in Middletown. The meeting will feature a discussion on the many incentives and programs that are available to manufacturers in the state, along with an update on the legislative session that is underway in Hartford. Council Chairman Chris DiPentima, who is president of Pegasus, will lead the group on a tour of their terrific facility. The Manufacturers Council is planning additional meetings in the next few months, and it will continue to support this critical industry sector.

On Tuesday afternoon, I look forward to meeting with my fellow executives from Connecticut’s eight metro chambers of commerce at the Bushnell in Hartford. We will be joined at the meeting by United States Senator Richard Blumenthal to discuss important business related issues. I am sure that Tuesday’s meeting will be a productive session with the senator and my chamber colleagues.

The chamber’s Golf Committee will meet at Luce in Middletown on Tuesday night. The group will continue its planning for our 34th Annual Golf Tournament which is scheduled for Friday, May 5 at Portland Golf Course. The chamber Golf Tournament is always a sold-out and outstanding event, and we look forward to sun shining on Portland in early May.

Thursday morning includes the February meeting of our East Haddam & Haddam Division. The meeting, co-hosted by Fireworks Hearth & Home and Alan’s Small Engine Service in Haddam, will feature updates from the two towns, chamber information including upcoming events and activities, and a presentation from the chamber’s Affordable Housing Committee. Our Westbrook Division will meet next Tuesday, the 28th, at Water’s Edge Resort and Spa. Our division chairs continue to be our eyes and ears in member towns. We appreciate their strong and continued support.

Friday’s Member Breakfast Meeting, featuring United States Senator Richard Blumenthal, will be held at the Radisson Hotel Cromwell. Networking begins at 7 a.m., Breakfast Buffet opens at 7:45 a.m., and the Meeting Program runs from 8 to 9 a.m. Sen. 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 for his remarks. I would like to again thank Hospital for Special Care for sponsoring the event and for their continuing support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Hospital for Special Care is a fantastic hospital, and their team continues to do terrific work addressing the special health needs of the many communities they serve. I know that President and CEO Lynn Ricci looks forward to introducing the senator, and we look forward to another great event.

Immediately following the breakfast meeting, the chamber will host an economic development session in partnership with the Connecticut Small Business Development Center. The CTSBDC provides no-cost advising services to both prospective and existing business owners to help them start or expand their business. This session will feature a presentation from James Jackson, Business Advisor for Middlesex County, on CTSBDC’s services that are available in our region, and from Joe Ercolano, statewide Associate Director, on business resilience and disruption planning. We value our strong partnership with CTSBDC and look forward to a productive session on Friday morning.

2017’s Legislative Event Series continues on Monday, February 27, 2017, at the Inn at Middletown. The meeting begins at 8 a.m., and will end at 9:30 a.m. Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz will serve as keynote speaker and will participate in a question and answer session. At this special meeting, Speaker Aresimowicz will visit with chamber members to discuss the 2017 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly. The chamber’s Board of Directors and Legislative Committee will have the opportunity to ask questions about the session and discuss some important issues on our 2017 Public Policy Agenda. This event is sponsored by our friends at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. We thank UKS, especially chamber Executive Committee member and Legislative Committee Co-Chair Rich Carella, for their strong and continued support of this event.

The chamber’s next Business After Work networking reception will be held Monday, Feb. 27 at the Sheraton Hartford South Hotel 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 Hotel 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.

Members should save the date of March 13 for our member breakfast meeting with UConn Head Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma, which will be a sold-out event. Coach Auriemma always does a terrific job with his remarks, and I know that our members are excited for this year’s visit which will take place right before the start of the NCAA Tournament. I would like to acknowledge the support of event sponsor MiddleOak, especially CEO Gary Vallo who sits on our Executive Committee and is a terrific chamber supporter. This breakfast event will be followed by a Small Business Lending Forum and Mini Expo featuring representatives of bank, non-bank and community lenders. The Lending Forum and Mini Expo runs from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and consists of two parts: a one-hour moderated panel discussion followed by a 90-minute mini expo of tabletop displays representing bank, non-bank and community lending sources available to small businesses in Connecticut.  The event is free for small business attendees.

I must close this week’s column on a sad note after the passing of J.J.Vinci at the remarkable age of 104. J.J. was a class act and true gentleman. He had a remarkable business career which included the founding of a number of different companies in the energy and real estate industries. His early professional career included driving trucks that carried supplies for the Arrigoni Bridge and Merritt Parkway among many other projects. In 1934, J.J. formed the J.J. Vinci Coal Company. This successful company helped support the war effort in World War II by supplying energy supplies to critical industrial facilities. Amazingly, J.J. recently celebrated his 82nd year in business. It was just last November that Connecticut’s Commissioner of Consumer Protection visited the Vinci Oil facility to present J.J. with a proclamation from Governor Malloy to honor the fact that he was continuing to attend the necessary classes to keep all of his licenses current and in compliance with state regulations. In fact, J.J. was officially dedicated as “The Dean of Occupational License Holders” by the Department of Consumer Protection, and Mayor Dan Drew was also on hand that day to present J.J. with a key to the city of Middletown. I am glad that we had the opportunity to spend some time with J.J. on that fun day. In addition to his business skills, J.J. was also a terrific corporate citizen. He supported countless charities, service clubs and other organizations, including the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce where he was a longtime member. He was a founder and the first president of the Italian American Civic Order, a board member of the Connecticut Association of Street & Highway Officials (CASHO), United States Small Business Administration, New England Association of Chiefs of Police, Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, National Association of State Fire Marshals, and Connecticut Fire Marshals Association among others. He also served in an advisory role to Liberty Bank’s Board of Directors for many years. J.J was an inspiration to all of us, and a role model on how a business should conduct itself as part of a larger community. He was a patriot who loved his city and loved his country. He was a great man who lived a long and full life, and he lived it well. Our thoughts and prayers are with his children, Joseph J. Vinci, Jr., Robert F. Vinci and Rosemarie Vinci, his grandson Michael Turner and his wife Mary J. Turner, his three great-grandchildren, and his entire network of family and friends. J.J. Vinci will be missed.

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