UConn Coach Auriemma to keynote sold-out member breakfast

March 13, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

We have reached one of my favorite weeks of the year, the week that includes Saint Patrick’s Day. Saint Patrick’s Day is a truly global celebration of Irish heritage and tradition, and I am very proud that the residents and businesses of Middlesex County have warmly embraced the holiday. Whether you plan to celebrate by wearing your favorite green tie, sweater or shirt, by enjoying a nice plate of corned beef and cabbage, or by enjoying a hearty libation or two, I hope that everyone in our region enjoys a very happy, healthy and safe Saint Patrick’s Day.

A busy work week kicks off with Monday’s sold out Member Breakfast Meeting with UConn Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. Coach Auriemma and the Lady Huskies, fresh off their conference tournament victory at Mohegan Sun last week, are gearing up for another national run. We very much look forward to this Member Breakfast which has become a very popular event for our chamber over the course of the past few years. I again want to thank the Coach for speaking to our membership, and MiddleOak CEO Gary Vallo and his team for sponsoring this major chamber event. Go Huskies!

The breakfast event with Coach Auriemma will be immediately followed by a Small Business Lending Forum and Mini Expo featuring representatives of bank, nonbank and community lenders. I would like to thank our partners at the Connecticut Small Business Development Center for their support of this event and of the business community in Middlesex County and throughout the state. We also appreciate the participation of our terrific panelists: Allison Standish-Plimpton, VP, Producing Team Leader for KeyBank, William Curtin, Vice President, Small Business Banking Group at Liberty Bank, Sheila Hummel, Program Administrator, Small Business Express Program for the Department of Economic and Community Development, Fernando Rosa, Deputy Executive Director at HEDCO, Inc. and David Raccio, Vice President, BDC Capital/CDC New England. We look forward to a productive session for our small businesses.

The chamber’s KeyBank Workshop Series continues with Tuesday’s session on “Time Management.” Attendees will learn practical techniques that they can use immediately to gain control over their day. The program will also cover planning and prioritizing more effectively while managing interruptions and distractions. I would like to thank Jim Jackson of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center for leading this important discussion at Tuesday morning’s seminar which runs from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. Please contact the chamber for registration information and keep an eye out for future sessions of the KeyBank Seminar Series. We again thank KeyBank Market President Jeff Hubbard and his entire team for their continued support of this important initiative.

Tourism Advocacy Day is scheduled for Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building and State Capitol. I look forward to attending along with chamber Vice President Johanna Bond and some of our members from this important industry sector. Tourism Advocacy Day is an initiative of The Connecticut Tourism Coalition which is an alliance of advocates from all sectors of the Connecticut tourism industry. They organized this day to advocate for a more sustainable source of annual funding for tourism which is a proven economic driver in Middlesex County and throughout the state. The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce continues to be a strong supporter of tourism in our region.

The chamber’s Board of Directors will hold its March meeting this Thursday at The Griswold Inn in Essex. In addition to reports from committee chairs and key staff, the meeting will feature remarks and Q&A with State Comptroller Kevin Lembo. It is important that the business community in Middlesex County has a strong working relationship with our state officials. I thank Comptroller Lembo for visiting with our board, and I continue to appreciate the strong and ongoing support of all of the members of our Board of Directors.

I look forward to a visit from our friends from Nutmeg Technologies, a new chamber member, for a meeting and Business Announcement Picture on Wednesday afternoon at the chamber. We look forward to working with its President, Lisa Smith, Director of Customer Care, Business & Community Deirdre Tindall, and their entire team. We wish them luck and success.

Our Legislative Event Series continues next Tuesday, March 20, when we welcome Sen. Len Fasano to a special event at the Courtyard by Marriott. Sen. Fasano is now the Senate Republican President Pro Tempore, and he will visit with chamber members to discuss the 2017 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly. I want to once again thank The Connecticut Water Company for sponsoring, and especially Maureen Westbrook who serves on our Executive Committee and as co-chair of our Legislative Committee. We look forward to the event with Sen. Fasano and also look forward to meeting with Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff on April 10, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides on April 25. These meetings follow a successful Legislative Breakfast with our delegation in late January, and an event with the Speaker of the House in late February. The chamber’s Legislative Committee will continue to stay very engaged throughout this important session of the General Assembly.

Next Tuesday evening, March 21, the 20th Graduation Awards Ceremony for the award-winning Side Street to Main Street Business and Leadership Development Program will be held at the chamber office from 6:15pm- 9:30pm. The program is a year-long entrepreneurial and business development course, with a rigorous curriculum, designed to assist minority small business owners in the community who have not had formal business training. We are so proud of this program and the fact that it has changed so many lives over the course of its twenty year history. I want to once again thank Aetna, Inc. who has funded and supported this program since the beginning. I will share additional details on the program and the ceremony in next week’s column.

Our Auction Committee is busy planning for the 33rd Annual Business After Work Auction & Taste of Downtown to be held once again at the Italian Society of Middletown. This year’s event is titled Pirates of Middlesex County Swashbuckler’s Soiree. Taking place from 5 to 8 p.m., this event will feature complimentary beer, wine, soda and a specialty drink. Some highlights include a taste of downtown, a live auction beginning at 5:45 p.m., a silent auction, a treasure chest that has keys available for purchase to unlock a surprise worth more than $200, a drawing for a movie viewing at Metro Movies 12 and much more. More information will be made available as we get closer but it is safe to say that our members are looking forward to another Business After Work Auction & Taste of Downtown.

There is strong economic development activity and a lot of optimism throughout Middlesex County right now. I continue to be bullish on our region, am very excited about the rest of 2017.

The calendar still reads winter, but spring is on the horizon, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

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