Area welcomes three new wellness businesses

MIDDLETOWN — The summer is marching right along in Middlesex County, and the chamber team continues to be on the move.

Tuesday, the chamber will continue the very successful KeyBank Workshop Series which has gone virtual due to COVID-19. This week’s session, Sexual Harassment Prevention Training, will be held via Zoom at 8 a.m.

The definition of sexual harassment, liability, and the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace will be discussed. Attorneys from the law firm Jackson Lewis will demonstrate how to limit your company’s exposure to charges of sexual harassment, and will share other important best practices to follow. This session meets state of Connecticut requirements for employers which have become more stringent in recent years.

Visit for details and registration. This important chamber series is sponsored by KeyBank, and I want to once again thank their entire team for its strong support. The sexual harassment prevention training in July will be followed up by a session in August on How to Reduce Waste and Improve Information Flow within Office Processes.

The main event of this week is Wednesday, when we look forward to welcoming back Dr. Edison Liu, president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory, for a virtual member luncheon sponsored by Whittlesey. The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit organization focusing on mammalian genetics research to advance human health. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.

The Jackson Laboratory is doing amazing work in the genomic research field, and its entry into the state of Connecticut has proven to be a major economic development initiative.

This is a timely visit for Dr. Liu, who was awarded the President’s Public Service Medal after leading Singapore’s scientific response to the 2003 SARS crisis. Prior to his time at the Jackson Laboratory, Dr. Liu was the founding executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore (2001-11), and was the president of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) from 2007-13. We look forward to a very informative event on Wednesday, and I want to thank Dr. Liu for speaking, and Whittlesey Managing Partner and CEO Drew Andrews and their entire team for its sponsorship and support.

Register at

Switching gears to workforce development, I am happy to report that week two of the chamber’s Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program is officially underway. This program features almost 60 youth participants working at over 25 host worksites throughout the city. Thanks to the leadership and support of Workforce Alliance, the City of Middletown, and a number of terrific private funders, we are able to run this important program in an otherwise very challenging year.

I thank all of them, once again, and on behalf of the chamber, for their unbelievable support. Our 2020 team of funding partners is: Workforce Alliance, the City of Middletown, Peach Pit Foundation, Liberty Bank Foundation, the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, Jarvis Products Corporation, Stone Investment Properties, and Middlesex United Way.

In addition to the team of funders, I also want to once again take a moment to thank the businesses and organizations in Greater 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.

All of these local supporters are providing a quality work experience to youngsters who need it, and in most cases, it is their very first work experience. I will continue to provide updates as we move through the summer, but rest assured, this program is developing the future of our local workforce.

While many of our meetings continue to be held virtually, we are excited that grand openings for some of our new businesses have resumed in person. These gatherings are of course held in a safe manner, and all proper protocols are followed.

Last week, grand opening events were held for Peaceful Chaos Yoga in Cromwell, and Mindbrakes in Middletown.

Peaceful Chaos Yoga is a tiny, cozy, and peaceful space that recently opened in Cromwell, and we wish Owner Jeannine Marron and her team nothing but the best as they move forward.

Mindbrakes, located in Main Street Market in Middletown, provides alternative pathways to a healthy lifestyle through education, support, products and services. We also wish Vivian Bergamotto all the best, and look forward to working with her moving forward.

Finally, this coming Thursday, we look forward to the grand opening for the Nutrition Spot on College Street in Middletown. Specializing in smoothies and energizing beverages, the Nutrition Spot is off to a great start with this important downtown business. We wish Beth Gyngell and her team all the best moving forward.

This busy chamber week also features other important events and activities for the benefit of our members.

On Tuesday afternoon, our Women’s Leadership Collaborative presents the first installment of its new Personal Discovery Series, “Learn to Lead Through Uncertainty.” This first installment is “Shake it Out, Not Off!” It will explore ways to use our bodies to clear out uncomfortable feelings rather than trying to push them aside or muddle through them.

Attendees will learn techniques that will help them thrive in this ever-changing world. I want to take a moment to thank our Women’s Leadership Collaborative for their great work on the development of this series, and on many other fronts. This important chamber group is led by its Chairwoman, Barbara Taylor-Hatje of Morgan Stanley, and chamber Vice President Johanna Bond on the staff side. I thank Citizens Bank for its support of the Women’s Leadership Collaborative.

On Wednesday afternoon, the chamber will host a webinar titled, “COVID-19 & The New Normal: Helping Your Business Survive the Challenges & Thrive After Reopening.” Attorneys from Reid and Riege will participate in a timely webinar that will cover key issues for businesses to consider after reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Topics will include: Contract Performance: Commercial Lease Considerations & Options in Light of COVID-19, COVID-19 Lawsuits: Pursuing or Facing a Grievance, Litigation: Exposure Liability & Insurance Coverage, Reorganization & Bankruptcy: Turning Things Around vs. Liquidation.

In addition to a packed week of content rich online events, this week’s chamber calendar also features meetings of our Human Resources Steering Committee, Killingworth Division, and Recovery Employment Program Steering Committee, which is designed to support individuals working through recovery.

A job coach is provided to help guide them through the process of job training and eventual employment. Charles Mitchell, chamber employee and REP job coach, is doing a great job with this important program, and I thank him, and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for supporting this important work.

Before closing, I ask that everyone please save the dates for two important chamber events that have been rescheduled for September. Our annual dinner will be held Sept. 9, and our 37th Annual Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament is Sept. 16 at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield.

I ask that everyone continue to stay positive and continue to work together. I have no doubt that we will come through these difficult times, and will be stronger on the back end.

The sun always shines in Middlesex County!

Larry McHugh is president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce in Middletown.