Last week was another busy one in Middlesex County. The Chamber began the week by welcoming Middletown native Mike Aresco to a Member Breakfast Meeting in Cromwell. Mike now serves as Commissioner of the BIG EAST CONFERENCE and he gave a great talk which expressed optimism in the future of the conference. We had a big crowd at the Crowne Plaza Cromwell and I would like to publicly thank Mike for visiting with our group. Mike is a Xavier High School grad who played football for me and I am very proud of the man he has become. I also want to send out a special thank you to Webster Bank for sponsoring this major event.
Tuesday brought us to Whelen Engineering in Chester for a meeting of the Chamber’s Manufacturers’ Council. The meeting focused on the manufacturing partnership that exists between the company and Regional School District # 4. Students from Valley Regional High School go to the Whelen facility once per day from 11:30 AM until around 12:30 PM for a class titled, Introduction to Manufacturing. The class is a credit elective that is running all four marking periods this school year. The Introduction to Manufacturing class is designed to make certain that students develop career awareness as related to the world of manufacturing, participate in real on the job experiences, develop an awareness of the manufacturing process, develop an understanding of the importance of safety in the workplace and develop an understanding of the importance of manufacturing in a modern society. The visit by the Manufacturers’ Council was designed to expose the business community to this great program. The program hopes to be a model that is adopted by other communities. Meeting attendees included numerous education officials from around Middlesex County and the State of Connecticut. Preliminary conversations are already taking place between school officials and companies throughout Middlesex County about starting similar programs. Quite simply, this was a terrific visit to Whelen Engineering. I want to publicly thank Whelen President and CEO John Olson for hosting our group and for implementing this important program. I also want to thank Regional School District # 4 Superintendent Dr. Ruth Levy for her forward thinking and emphasis on manufacturing. This program, under the leadership of Whelen Educational Consultant David Russell, is developing the workforce of tomorrow which is critical to our economic future.
The 20th Annual Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Induction Dinner was held on Thursday evening at the Crowne Plaza Cromwell. As I noted last week, this event is always one of my favorites but this year was particularly special for me. The 1971 undefeated Xavier High School Football Team was officially inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame. I was truly overwhelmed by the number of players, coaches, managers and friends, many of whom traveled long distances to come to the event. It was truly an honor to coach that team and I am very grateful that we were all able to celebrate this great honor together. I also would once again like to congratulate all of the other inductees on this high honor:
Fred Balsamo, Joseph Ferraro, Christine Hickey Fritz, Art Hatje, Sr. (posthumously), Louis Labbadia, Paul LaBella, Michael Muraca, Orville Palmer, William Piantek, Thomas Prue, Sr. (posthumously), Jason Schuberth, Robert Sienko, Alexander Tucci, Reuben Wilson, and Laurence Woods.
Finally, I want to publicly thank FoxCT Sports Director Rich Coppola, and The Voice of Middletown sports Jim Bransfield of the Middletown Press, for doing a terrific job as Masters of Ceremonies. I also want to acknowledge the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors, led by Tom Serra, and Johanna Bond from the Chamber staff who put a lot of time in to make sure this event was a huge success.
The Chamber’s Chester, Deep River and Essex Division had a terrific meeting on Friday morning at the Chester Meeting House. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo visited with our group to discuss some of the important issues facing the State of Connecticut. Kevin will be visiting all of the Chamber divisions over the next few months and I want to publicly thank him for his support of our organization.
February is now upon us and the Chamber is gearing up for another active month. We are looking forward to a Grand Opening this Thursday, February 7th at Middletown Art Academy on Main Street. Mayor Drew and I will join Rusa D’Alessandro, Founder of Middletown Art Academy, to celebrate this new downtown business.
On Tuesday, February 19th, the Chamber will hold a Member Business After Work Networking Event at the Hawthorne Inn, 2421 Berlin Turnpike, Berlin. This event, as always, will feature free beer, wine and soft drinks, along with a great spread of food and the best networking around. The event will run from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM.
Our next Member Breakfast Meeting, sponsored by Pratt & Whitney, will be held on February 25th and will feature United States Senator Richard Blumenthal. We are looking forward to hearing from Senator Blumenthal on the many important issues that are being discussed in our nation’s capital.
The event with Senator Blumenthal will be followed by an Energy Forum titled “Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Plan: What Impact Will It Have On Your Business?” This event is hosted by our Environment, Land Use and Energy Committee and sponsored by Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. The forum will feature a high level discussion on energy policy that will focus on how the State of Connecticut’s proposed Comprehensive Energy Plan will affect the business community. It will identify the pros and cons of implementing the state’s energy plan and will assess the economic impacts of enacting it as proposed. The forum will also explore the feasibility of implementing alternative energy sources and will explain how the regulatory structure would work.
The entire program will be split into two panels: The first will be a Regulatory and Administrative Discussion featuring state officials and a leading Connecticut economist, and the second panel will be an Industry and Technical Discussion featuring representatives from the energy industry. Each segment will have an extensive question and answer period, which promise to be interactive forums that will educate and help our members make informed decisions about Connecticut’s energy future as it relates to business. The first panel, which will engage in a regulatory and administrative discussion, will feature: Tracy Babbidge, Bureau Chief of Energy, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), Michael Caron, Director, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), Peter Gioia, Economist, Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), and State Representative Lonnie Reed, House Energy & Technology Committee Chairwoman, 102nd District.
The second panel, which will engage in an industry and technical discussion, will feature: Michael Collins, Manager of Sales, Yankee Gas, Michael Dirrane, Director of Northeast Marketing, Spectra Energy, David Foster, President, Wilcox Energy, Jonathan Gordon, Board of Directors, Renewable Energy and Efficiency Business Association, Inc. (REEBA), Tom Santa, CEO, Santa Energy Corporation, and Joe Sauger, Vice President for Engineering & Construction Services, Buckeye Partners, L.P.
We are looking forward to this very important forum on energy policy. I want to thank our friends at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. for sponsoring the event and Bill Corvo, President, William Corvo Consultants, Inc., for serving as our moderator.
Looking ahead, we are excited to welcome a good friend and longtime Chamber supporter back to Middlesex County. Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman will visit with the Chamber’s All Middletown Division on Thursday, February 28th. Nancy has continued her tradition of meeting with the Chamber’s geographically based divisions, a tradition which goes back to the early days of her tenure as State Comptroller. Nancy has been very good to our organization over the years and we continue to work well with her now that she is in the Lieutenant Governor’s office. The meeting of the All Middletown Division will be held at the Village at South Farms in Middletown and will begin at 8:00 AM.
Finally, save the date of Tuesday, March 19th, for the 29th Annual Business After Work Auction & Taste of Middletown. This huge event will be held at the Italian Society of Middletown and will once again feature a great spread of food and some terrific items to bid on.
For more information on Chamber events and activities, please contact Jeff Pugliese at email@example.com.