July 24, 2017
By: Larry McHugh
A busy summer continues in Middlesex County as another week full of meetings and activities begins.
Thanks to the tremendous commitment of our membership, the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce is the largest free standing chamber in the State of Connecticut. We are also fortunate to be a part of the Metro Chamber working group which includes the eight largest chambers in our state. The metro chambers collectively represent thousands of Connecticut businesses, and the monthly meetings of the leaders of these organizations always feature productive discussions about collaboration and joint advocacy for the business community. I look forward to another productive meeting with my fellow chamber executives on Tuesday afternoon in Hartford. This chamber, and chambers around the state will continue to provide the business community with a strong voice.
It is hard to believe, but week three of the 2017 Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program kicks off today at a number of locations throughout the city of Middletown. As I have previously noted, nearly 40 area youth have been placed into this six-week long program which provides valuable work experience in a wide variety of professional fields. During these six important weeks, our young people not only learn the fundamentals of employment, such as getting to work on time and ready to contribute, but also the pride that comes with putting in a solid work week and receiving a paycheck that was earned through hard and honest work. Every week when I mention this program, I make sure to thank the over 30 businesses and organizations in Middletown that are serving as host worksites this summer. It is critical that we have host worksites stepping up to the plate to provide the work and supervision that is necessary to truly make this an effective workforce development initiative. I would also like to take a moment to once again thank our 2017 team of funding partners for their great contributions to this program. Without them, this program would simply not be possible. Our 2017 team of funding partners is as follows: The City of Middletown, under the leadership of Mayor Dan Drew and the Common Council, Peach Pit Foundation, Community Foundation of Middlesex County (Sams Family Fund, Coles Family Fund, Herb and Ellen Patterson Memorial Fund, MiddleOak Unrestricted Fund, Chuck and Rachel Wiltsie Fund), Liberty Bank Foundation, Jarvis Products Corporation, MiddleOak, Pegasus Manufacturing, Greenwald Industries, Stone Investment Properties, Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, and Middlesex United Way. I want to also make sure that I note again, that the original and primary funder of this program for many years is Workforce Alliance. Despite the fact that funding is not coming through the workforce board this year due to the state’s budget issues, President and CEO Bill Villano and his team have done a great job of processing applications, keeping the towns in their service area in the loop, and advocating for funding for youth employment in Connecticut. I thank Bill and his team, and all of our program supporters, for their continued dedication to this important initiative.
While the chamber continues to work hard on the economic and workforce development fronts, another key goal for us is to be an effective partner in the promotion of the outstanding tourist attractions that we have in Middlesex County. This chamber has always recognized tourism as a strong economic driver in Middlesex County and in the surrounding areas. Middlesex County is home to some of the state’s best tourism attractions including Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, Goodspeed Musicals, Gillette Castle, Lyman Orchards, Saybrook Point Inn, Water’s Edge Resort and Spa, Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort, Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park and more. Many tourists from other parts of Connecticut and beyond also visit Middlesex County to participate in Wesleyan University’s events and activities, and to experience the Connecticut River and the beautiful shoreline in our region. The Travelers Championship in June and the Durham Fair in September also generate huge crowds on an annual basis. This Tuesday afternoon, the chamber will host its third "Let's Make a Deal" event, this time at Chicago Sam’s Sports Bar and Grille in Cromwell. Hosted by our Tourism Steering Committee, this gathering is designed to help our tourism partners collaborate to develop attractive package deals in our region. The mission of the chamber’s Tourism Steering Committee is to entice visitors from all over to come and discover all that this beautiful county has to offer. At the end of the event, all packages that have been created will be displayed and participants will vote on the best deal of the day. The winner of the best "Discover Middlesex County Package" will receive a six-month banner ad on the chamber’s website. We look forward to another great event.
Sticking with the tourism theme, Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort in Middlefield is another key economic driver in our region. On Saturday, August 5, I look forward to visiting the property to support the unveiling of 365 Synthetic Snow Park. Local skiers will no longer have to wait until winter to hit the slopes now that Sean Hayes and his team have installed a 500-foot run that will be expanded to over 2,800 feet by next summer. Powder Ridge, along with its sister property Brownstone Exploration and Discovery Park in Portland, continues to be a major economic driver in our region. I congratulate Sean Hayes on his continued success and thank him for his support of our chamber.
The Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce will continue to strongly support the tourism industry in our region and in our state.
Stepping away from the tourism theme for a moment, I also want to mention that I look forward to joining Mayor Dan Drew and other local leaders on Thursday morning at the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the SEIU Local 511 Connecticut Employees Union Independent at its Randolph Road headquarters. Sal Perruccio founded this important local union in 1967, and under his leadership as President, it became one of the first unions in the state to join a business organization. Sal’s son Steven also served as President of SEIU Local 511 and supported our chamber along the way. I continue to appreciate their membership and appreciate the invitation to attend.
As we look ahead to the rest of the calendar year, I want to announce that the chamber is now accepting nominations for a series of important awards that will be presented in 2017. Our Support the Troops and Honor the Veterans Committee is now accepting nominations for the 2017 William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award. This award is presented annually at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce’s Support the Troops & Honor the Veterans Member Breakfast Meeting to a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces in recognition of his or her distinguished service to the citizens of Connecticut and selfless commitment to public service. This award is given in memoriam of Bill Pomfret who served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and was a member of the American Legion for 60 years, holding offices of State Commander, State Treasurer and Commander of Middletown Post 75. He graduated from Middletown High School in 1935 where he served as Class President. Bill served on the Middletown Common Council, was the first President of the Ahern Whalen Baseball League, and was the founder and first President of the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame. He served for years as Administrator of the state’s Soldiers, Sailors and Marines Fund for Veterans and their dependents. Bill also served in many other civic, veteran, sports, and youth organizations. To nominate a candidate for this award, please submit the name of the individual, a detailed resume and/or a biography, supporting documents detailing their military and community service, and any other information you believe the committee should have. Nominations must be received at the chamber office by Friday, August 25 at 4:30 pm. The chamber is now also accepting applications for the Small Business of the Year Awards. These awards are presented to eight Middlesex County businesses that continue to excel in their industry sector. There will be awards presented in the following categories: Business of the Year (1‐30 employees); Business of the Year (31+ employees); Business Growth & Expansion Award; Manufacturer of the Year; Minority Owned Business of the Year; Outstanding New Business under 5 years; Retail Business of the Year; and Tourism/ Hospitality Business of the Year. For information on how to nominate a business, please visit www.middlesexchamber.com. These award nominations are also due on Friday, August 25 at 4:30 p.m. We look forward to honoring our small business champions at Middlesex County's Premier Business Showcase on October 11. More info to come!
Now that August is almost upon us, planning for the 12th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania is entering its final phase. This major annual event, presented by Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines Ltd., & the Hunter Family, and driven by Haymond Law Office, will be held on Aug. 9 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Middletown Motorcycle Mania is held in memory of Dan M. Hunter, one of the event’s founding sponsors. Over 6,000 bikes are expected to converge on Main Street for the 12th installment of this annual city event which will showcase custom and vintage motorcycles. All bikes are welcome to come out for what has become the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England, and this year’s version is sure to be a fantastic time for everyone involved. I will have much more on Middletown Motorcycle Mania in next week’s column, and more information can be found at http://middletownmotorcyclemania.com.
On a sad note, I recently learned of the passing of a longtime friend and chamber member, Arnold Joseph “Joe” Talevi. His funeral liturgy will be held on Wednesday, July 26 at 11 a.m. at Saint John’s Church. Calling hours will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 25 at Biega Funeral Home. I will have much more on Joe’s passing in next week’s column, but our thoughts and prayers are certainly with his family at this difficult time.
Powder Ridge in Middlefield to unveil its 365 Synthetic Snow Park
July 24, 2017