Second half of April to feature meetings, grand opening

April 17, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

April is moving right along in Middlesex County, and the chamber calendar is packed with events and activities.

Tuesday features meetings of two important chamber groups, our Westbrook Division and our Golf Committee. The Westbrook Division will meet at Tanger Outlets at 8 a.m., and the Golf Committee will meet at 5 p.m. at Luce Restaurant in Middletown. The division will continue its monthly discussion on issues of importance to our Westbrook based members, and the committee will continue its planning for our 34th Annual Golf Tournament scheduled for May 5 at Portland Golf Course. The chamber golf tournament is always a sold-out event, and I know our members look forward to the sun shining on Portland on May 5.

Also on Tuesday, I will attend a Grand Opening celebration for Tonia’s Tailoring at its new Saybrook Road location in Middletown. Tonia Herring has provided high quality alteration services on formal gowns and other garments for many years now. She is a graduate of our Side Street to Main Street Business and Leadership Development Program, and I look forward to joining Mayor Drew and other city dignitaries as we wish her nothing but the best at her new and improved facility.

Thursday is a very busy day for me and the entire chamber team. I look forward to attending the Workforce Alliance Executive Committee Meeting on Thursday morning in New Haven. Workforce Alliance works to improve the delivery of workforce services in close collaboration with business, education and training providers, and local elected officials. They serve the public through the American Job Centers, one of which is located on South Main Street in Middletown. The chamber continues to enjoy a very strong working relationship with Workforce Alliance and we appreciate the support of President and CEO Bill Villano and his terrific team.

Later in the day, the chamber’s Board of Directors will hold its April meeting at the Middletown Elks Lodge on Maynard Street. This meeting, hosted by Season’s Federal Credit Union, will feature a presentation from Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon and Business Relations Specialist Sarah Spencer. Kevin and Sarah will cover recent developments at Bradley International Airport with a particular emphasis on the Aer Lingus service to Ireland, the Norwegian Air Service to Scotland, new direct options to Florida and the west coast, and other route development efforts. We look forward to another productive chamber board meeting which will also feature reports from committee chairs and key staff.

A busy Thursday will close with April’s Business After Work Networking Reception hosted by Lady Katharine Cruises. Beginning at 5 p.m. on the ship, The Mystique will be docked at Harbor Park, 80 Harbor Drive in Middletown. Chamber members can board the ship and network while docked until 6:30 p.m. when it takes a trip down river and returns at the close of the Business After Work event at 7 p.m.  The event will feature fantastic river views, a terrific spread of food and drinks, and outstanding spring networking for chamber members and their guests. Parking is available at Middletown’s Melilli lot with tunnel access to Harbor Park, where the ship is docked. Limited parking will also be available at Harbor Park. The Mystique is the perfect place to meet and network with other business people because as our friends at Lady Katharine Cruises’ say, “Everything is better on the water.” I would like to once again thank the Lady Katharine Cruises team for hosting this outstanding Business After Work networking reception. We look forward to a great event.

The MCSAAC Advisory Board will hold its April meeting on Friday at the chamber office beginning at 8 a.m. Established in 1991, MCSAAC is a council of the Business Industry Foundation of Middlesex County, a 501(c)3 nonprofit founded by the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose is to reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug abuse in Middlesex County. Director Betsey Chadwick, with support from Board President Tony Salvatore, does a great job as she travels around the county pushing this critically important message. I look forward to another productive meeting of the Advisory Board on Friday morning.

An Open House event for L&I Refrigeration is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at its new 43 Industrial Park Access Road location in Middlefield. I look forward to stopping by to wish the best to Dave Slight, a strong supporter of our chamber who is active with our Durham and Middlefield Division, and his entire team, as they continue to move the company forward.

April’s Member Breakfast Meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 24 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. We look forward to welcoming Congressman Joe Courtney as keynote speaker at this event, which is sponsored by Pratt & Whitney. Congressman Courtney’s district includes some important down-county towns within the chamber’s service area. His remarks will touch on the many important issues that he is working on as he represents his constituents in Washington, D.C. Congressman Courtney serves on some very important committees, including the House Armed Services Committee, the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, the Readiness subcommittee, House Education and Workforce Committee, the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions subcommittee and the Higher Education and Workforce Training subcommittee. The Member Breakfast Meeting will kick off Connecticut Export Week 2017, which is a unique initiative of the District Export Council and U.S. Commercial Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. I want to once again thank Congressman Courtney for speaking to our membership, and Pratt & Whitney for its support of this event and of so many community-based initiatives.

The 2017 High School Career Fair Expo is scheduled for next Thursday, April 27 at the Spurrier-Snyder Ice Rink at Freeman Athletic Center on the campus of Wesleyan University. Presented by the chamber’s Business & Education Partnership Advisory Council, The Middlesex Consortium of Schools, and Wesleyan University’s Jewett Center for Community Partnerships, this 12th Annual High School Career Fair Expo will be attended by over 1200 students from all over Middlesex County. The Career Fair Expo is an exploration event, a way to introduce our high school students to the many different career fields out there. I would like to once again express a big thank you to those business and career professionals who will be on hand to present and share their career experiences with the students. This major annual event is made possible by sponsorship support from Eversource and Pratt & Whitney to the Chamber’s Business & Education Partnership, and Wesleyan University for the Spurrier-Snyder Ice Rink facility to hold this event.  This is truly a great partnership, and we very much appreciate our Business & Education sponsors.

I also want to announce that Tuesday, June 20th is the date of the 2017 Middlesex County Spring Career Fair. This event, to be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Radisson, will feature close to 50 employers and hundreds of job seekers. The chamber is proud to partner with the Connecticut Department of Labor and Workforce Alliance on this important event which is designed to connect highly skilled and qualified job seekers with employment opportunities available in our region. The Middlesex County Spring Career Fair has been in existence for over 20 years now. More to come as we get closer, but job seekers should certainly save the date of June 20th.

To wrap up this week’s column, I want to note that last Monday’s Legislative Leadership Series event with Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff was very successful. The event featured another substantive discussion on the many important issues that face members of the General Assembly during this critical session. The 2017 Legislative Leadership Series concludes on Tuesday, April 25, when we welcome House Minority Leader Themis Klarides to a special meeting at the Inn at Middletown. This event, sponsored by Kronenberger & Sons Restoration Inc., will give chamber members the opportunity to ask questions about the session and discuss some important issues on our 2017 Public Policy Agenda. I appreciate Rep. Klarides’ willingness to once again come and visit with our members during this very busy legislative session. This meeting will wrap up a great run of chamber legislative events which in addition to last week’s meeting with Sen. Duff included our 2017 Legislative Breakfast with Middlesex County’s legislative delegation, and special leadership events with Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz and Senate Republican President Pro Tem Len Fasano. As I have repeatedly noted, the chamber’s Legislative Committee will continue to stay engaged throughout this legislative session, and I thank co-chairs Rich Carella and Maureen Westbrook for their strong leadership of this important chamber group.

The spring sun is shining on Middlesex County, and the chamber continues to be on the move.

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