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Chamber Corner with Larry McHugh

Chamber Corner with Larry McHugh

On behalf of the entire membership of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, I extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by the horrible shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown last Friday.  Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the school district and the town of Newtown, and especially to the families who lost loved ones on that terrible day.  Nothing we say or do can mitigate the sense of loss they must feel, but the least we can do is offer our love and support to all of those affected, and stand with them through this extremely difficult time.   

Last Tuesday, the Chamber continued its annual holiday tradition as we welcomed Connecticut’s Governor to our December Member Breakfast Meeting.  A sold out crowd of over 850 people listened as Governor Dannel P. Malloy mixed in holiday greetings with an update on the serious issues we face in our state.  It was an outstanding talk.  The Governor also helped us honor our 2012 William J. Pomfret Veteran Community Service Award winner, Bill Currlin of Middlefield.  Bill gave a wonderful speech and proved to all of us in attendance why he is one of those truly special people in Middlesex County.  This Member Breakfast Meeting was another terrific event and I want to publicly thank Governor Malloy for visiting with our membership.  I would also like to thank Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas for not only their sponsorship of this event, but for their strong support of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. 

Following the Breakfast Meeting, the Chamber’s Affordable Housing Committee hosted a symposium titled Planning for a Vibrant Downtown.  This event, attended by over 70 people including a host of local municipal officials, featured a panel of experts with experience in successful downtown housing and commercial initiatives.  The group discussed ways to successfully navigate the political process; successfully build public support, how to attract developers, how to engage the local business community, what to avoid during the process, and other important issues.  Panelists included: David Fink, Policy and Communications Director, Partnership for Strong Communities, Hiram Peck, Director of Planning, Simsbury, CT, Adam Turner, Town Planner, Colchester, CT, Bill Ferrigno, Owner and Operator, Sunlight Construction, Inc., and Carl P. Fortuna, First Selectman, Old Saybrook, CT.  I would like to thank our distinguished panel for their time and energy.  Finally, I want to send out a special thank you to Liberty Bank Foundation for sponsoring the event.  The Foundation, led by Executive Director Sue Murphy, does great work throughout the Liberty Bank service area and we appreciate all that they do.  Another successful Middlesex Chamber Governor’s Breakfast is in the books and we look forward to continuing this fine tradition. 

Middletown’s 27th Annual Holiday on Main Street concluded this past Saturday, December 15th.  The day was filled with family oriented events including free hayrides along Main Street and multiple ornament decorating workshops.  Our friends at The Exchange Club of Middletown staffed the popcorn and hot pretzels stand in front of the Chamber throughout the day and holiday music, once again provided by Harvest Woods Audio, echoed throughout Main Street.  The Holiday Bus, courtesy of Middletown Area Transit, provided free rides around the downtown and there were free hayrides, courtesy of Kidcity Chlldren’s Museum, Oddfellows Playhouse, and Middlesex YMCA.  Webster Bank sponsored the Giving Tree to benefit Middletown Park & Recreation’s Holiday Program, which provides presents for disadvantaged childrenThe Bounce House at Middlesex YMCA, provided by A Total Jump Inflatables, was a real hit and Holiday Story Time at Broad Street Books, featuring Curious George, attracted a great crowd.  Finally, A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration, was performed at Oddfellows Playhouse.  The play, which celebrated its world premiere at Long Wharf Theatre in 2008, tells the story of a Christmas Eve in Washington, D.C. in 1864.  Author Paula Vogel weaves together historical fact with humanizing detail and inventive fiction to explore the celebration of Christmas and our nation during wartime. 

Another successful Holiday on Main Street is in the books and I want to offer a heartfelt thanks to our sponsors: City of Middletown, Pratt & Whitney, Middletown Downtown Business District, Apple Rehab Middletown, Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Greco Design, Kidcity Children’s Museum, Liberty Bank, Malloves Jewelers, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, Middlesex YMCA, Middletown Area Transit, Oddfellows Playhouse, One MacDonough Place, Rag & Bone, Russell Library, St. Vincent dePaul Middletown, and Webster Bank.

It is hard to believe, but Middnight on Main is now just a few weeks away.  On New Year's Eve, downtown Middletown will be filled with people of all ages enjoying over 100 fun events.  The evening’s activities will include music, dance, games, art, film, and entertainment and the free 6:00 PM rooftop fireworks show will again be the main attraction.   Downtown Middletown will be rocking on New Year’s Eve so don’t miss out.  For more information on Middnight on Main, please visit http://www.middnight.org

As we approach the end of 2012, the Chamber staff is busy looking ahead to 2013.  We are embarking on a number of exciting initiatives and our divisions and councils are as active as ever.  I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all of our volunteers for their unbelievable support.  We are so blessed to live and work in Middlesex County and it is because of the fine people that we work with on a daily basis.  The Chamber’s 2012 Membership Drive Challenge is a shining example of this.  Our organization is proud to welcome 106 new members, a development that is critically important as we move forward.  Our volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization, and they have our unending thanks. 

Over the new couple of weeks, I look forward to offering holiday wishes to our members, our friends, and our supporters.  The holidays are here, and the Middlesex Chamber is on the move.

For more information on Chamber events and activities, please contact Jeff Pugliese at jpugliese@middlesexchamber.com.1

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