County welcomes Italian bakery, auto repair shop, cellphone firm

May 22, 2017

By: Larry McHugh

As the summer fast approaches in Middlesex County, the economic activity continues to heat up along with the weather.

I attended three exciting grand opening celebrations late this past week at various locations throughout the county. Anna’s Café on Main Street in Centerbrook held its event on Thursday afternoon. Anna's Café, dedicated to producing authentic Italian cannoli products, recently spun off of the Cannolis On The Run Food Truck. I was happy to join Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman to officially welcome Fran D’Urso and the entire team at Anna’s Café to the Middlesex business community. On Friday afternoon, I joined Middletown Councilman Tom Serra and other city leaders to officially welcome Jesse Clemonts and the team at Cricket Wireless to the fold. Cricket Wireless is located on Main Street in Middletown, and we are happy to have them as part of the important Central Business District. Finally, on Saturday morning, I joined Haddam First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo at the Grand Re-Opening of New Image Auto in Higganum. We certainly wish Michelle Adametz, and the entire New Image team, nothing but success as they strive to provide high quality auto repair service to the communities they serve. Attending these grand opening celebrations is one of the most rewarding aspects of leading the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. We will continue to support entrepreneurship and business development in our region.

This week once again features a number of important chamber meetings throughout the county. Our Westbrook Division will meet on Tuesday morning at the Valley Shore YMCA. Attendees will receive an update from the chamber’s Legislative Committee along with local updates from town officials and other stakeholders. The group will also take a tour of the Valley Shore YMCA facility. Our East Haddam & Haddam Division will meet on Thursday morning at Nehemiah Brainerd House B & B in Haddam. This meeting will also feature a legislative update, local updates, and a tour of the beautiful Nehemiah Brainerd House B & B. As I have noted many times, our divisions continue to play a critical role in our effort to truly keep our eyes and ears to the ground in our member towns.

While we never stray from our grassroots approach, our chamber is fortunate to be the largest freestanding chamber in the state and one of the metro chambers of commerce in Connecticut. I look forward to meeting with my fellow executives from the metro chambers on Tuesday afternoon in New Haven. The metro chambers collectively represent thousands of businesses in our state, from all industry sectors and of all sizes. These meetings always feature discussions about collaboration and joint advocacy for the business community. This particular meeting will include a discussion on the Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly which is entering its critical final stretch at the State Capitol in Hartford. I look forward to another productive meeting of this important group.

Back in Middletown, the Community Foundation of Middlesex County will celebrate 20 terrific years with an Open House and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. The event will take place at the new home of the CFMC, the historic Caleb Fuller House on Main Street in Middletown. Community Foundation of Middlesex County’s mission is to improve the quality of life for the people of the county now and in the future. President and CEO Cynthia Clegg and her team do an outstanding job of supporting a number of important community initiatives. I appreciate their longtime support of our chamber, and I look forward to attending the event on Wednesday.

Middlesex Community College continues to be an important stakeholder in Middletown and throughout our region. The school recently announced that Dr. Anna Wasescha, its president since 2011, will be leaving her post to take a new position back in her home state of Minnesota. I look forward to attending a Farewell Open House which is scheduled for this Thursday on the MxCC campus. President Wasescha has done an excellent job in her leadership role at the college, and all of us at the chamber wish her the best as she embarks on this new phase of her career.

On Friday morning, the Executive Committee for the Middlesex County Substance Abuse Action Council (MCSAAC) will meet at the chamber office in Middletown. MCSAAC is recognized as one of thirteen public/private partnerships (Regional Action Councils) across the State of Connecticut. Established in 1991, MCSAAC is a council of the Business Industry Foundation of Middlesex County. Its purpose is to reduce the incidence of alcohol and other drug abuse in our region. The meeting on Friday will focus on the current budget negotiations in Hartford and how the Regional Action Councils may be affected as we move forward. I appreciate the continued good work of MCSAAC President Tony Salvatore, Director Betsey Chadwick, and the entire MCSAAC team, and I hope to see that work continue for years to come.

Looking ahead, the month of June will get off to a real fast start with a number of important events and activities. The chamber’s Annual Real Estate Luncheon is scheduled for Thursday, June 1st at Angelico’s Lake House in East Hampton. This annual event, sponsored by Liberty Bank, brings together our many active member realtors who continue to do important work in Middlesex County. The event will also feature the presentation of the 2017 Mary Ellen Klinck Real Estate Agent of the Year Award, which is presented to an agent who has made outstanding volunteer contributions to our community, while exhibiting professionalism and success in the real estate field. Mary Ellen Klinck is the former chair of the chamber’s Real Estate Council, and former chair of the chamber’s Board of Directors. She is the owner and president of Century 21 Root Agency in East Haddam and is a wonderful local individual. We look forward to another successful Real Estate Luncheon on June 1st in East Hampton. I will share additional details in next week’s chamber column.

Speaking of major events, the sold out, 34th Annual Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament will be held on Friday, June 2 at Portland Golf Course. I would like to take a moment to once again thank all of our sponsors and supporters, our Golf Committee which meets throughout the year, all members who donated gifts and prizes, the terrific team at Portland Golf Course, and chamber Vice President Johanna Bond who does a wonderful job with this tournament on an annual basis. We also look forward to honoring our 2017 Robert Briggs “Good Guy” Award Recipient, Lyman Farm Inc. CEO Steve Ciskowski. The Robert Briggs Good Guy Award is presented annually in recognition of contributions made to the community and also to the chamber’s Golf Tournament. Steve has done a great job in a professional capacity at Lymans, and we continue to appreciate his support of our Golf Tournament, and of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. We look forward to the sun shining on Portland on June 2!

In closing, I want to once again announce that the chamber’s 2017 Annual Awards Dinner will be held on Wednesday, June 7 at the Radisson Hotel in Cromwell. We are very excited to honor four outstanding Middlesex County individuals with our 2017 Distinguished Citizen Award, William F. & Sharon K. Griffin, Kenneth W. MacCormac, and Phil Ouellette. We will also honor the recipient of the 2017 Chief Michael L. Green Award, William J. Warner of the Middletown Police Department, and the winners of the chamber’s three scholarships. Finally, the event will mark the official changeover of the chamber’s chairmanship. Essex Savings Bank President Greg Shook, who has done a wonderful job in this important leadership position, will pass the chairman’s gavel to Rick Morin of Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski. The Annual Awards Dinner gives our members and our staff the opportunity to acknowledge Greg’s great work and leadership in this past year. It is also an opportunity to honor top notch individuals, and to send a few high performing Middlesex County high school students off to college with some additional funds for tuition and books. Registration information can be found at www.middlesexchamber.com, and I ask that all members consider attending this important chamber event.

Memorial Day is almost here, the calendar is packed, and the chamber team is on the move. The sun always shines on Middlesex County!

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