Chamber holding business forum in March

The Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce will hold a business forum on Thursday, March 12 at DoubleTree Hotel, 42 Century Dr., Bristol from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

This informative event will focus on the challenges facing business owners today, how to overcome these and ways to grow businesses. The forum will feature two key note speakers and two panel discussions.

The first keynote address is from catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, the lead state agency responsible for attracting and retaining businesses and jobs, revitalizing neighborhoods and communities, and fostering appropriate development in Connecticut’s towns and cities.

According to a press release from the chamber, Smith’s top economic development priorities are to strengthen the state’s efforts to nurture and drive innovation; effectively promote and market the state’s many business advantages within Connecticut and beyond its borders; and place a renewed emphasis on all aspects of customer service in order to make the state more business-friendly and attractive for investment. Her community development priorities include improving the state’s ability to redevelop brownfields, continuing the state’s commitment to responsible growth and transit-oriented development, and fostering arts and culture to make Connecticut’s cities are more vibrant and attractive.  The commissioner is forging closer working relationships with private sector partners to realize these objectives and to maximize the return on state investments.

This will be followed by a panel discussion of Workforce Challenges and Opportunities. Panelists include: Janice Albert, business service specialist for Department of Labor; Thomas Phillips, president & CEO of Capital Workforce Partner; Bob Santy, president of CERC; and Justin Malley, director of Bristol Economic Development.

The second keynote address is from Randy Vagnini, senior energy engineer at the Connecticut Light & Power Company, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities. He is the program lead for Energize CT’s Small Business Energy Advantage  Program and is part of CL&P’s Energy Efficiency Department, which administers the electric and gas energy efficiency and demand response programs supported by Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Fund. Vagnini brings a wealth of experience to his work today, having been with the Northeast Utilities system since 1991, providing engineering services at the Millstone Nuclear Power Station for eight years, and then focusing on energy efficiency for CL&P customers for the last 14 years. He has helped hundreds of Connecticut businesses make improvements to be more energy-efficient, helping them be more competitive by saving energy and saving money.

The final panel discussion will focus on the “Challenges of Growing and Starting a Business.” Panelists include: a representative from Connecticut Innovations; a representative from COMCAST Business Class; Bob Petricone, counselor for SCORE Northwest CT Chapter; and Tammy Warner, business advisor for Connecticut Small Business Development Center.

The title sponsors for the forum are Bristol Hospital and Energize Connecticut in conjunction with the Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce. The cost for attending is $30 for chamber members and $40 for Non-members.

A number of sponsorship opportunities are also available.

If you plan to attend or would like more information, contact the Chamber at 860-584-4718 or register online at