A message from Tony Sheridan, President and CEO
2020 has been an extraordinary year of unforeseen challenges impacting all of us. Last December, we enjoyed all the festivities of the holidays, gathering for our Gala and for celebrations with family and friends. In my last New Year letter, I spoke enthusiastically of the promise of the year ahead with economic growth spanning many sectors. By March we began to see that everything we were familiar with, both at home and at work, was about to change because of the onset of COVID-19. Strong and resilient, eastern Connecticut has responded to these unwelcome changes with characteristic innovation and cooperation.
In March, when were preparing to recognize Pfizer as our Business of the Year at our annual meeting, we did not know COVID-19 would cause such devastation to so many of our citizens and to our economy. Nor did we know that our highly respected company, Pfizer, would play such an important role in taming the virus. Their cutting-edge research is leading the way in ending this pandemic, and our entire community greatly appreciates the work our friends and colleagues are doing there.
While Pfizer was leading in global vaccine development, our local healthcare and frontline workers responded quickly to our community’s immediate needs. Meeting unprecedented need in the community, the staff and volunteers at social service organizations have also gone above and beyond. Businesses and individuals in eastern Connecticut responded with generous support and extraordinary efforts on behalf of those most impacted by the pandemic. The Chamber Foundation has been pleased be part of this effort. (Read more in The Day and The Bulletin)
Local and state elected officials and our Connecticut Congressional delegation offered creative and responsive solutions for businesses to continue to operate as much as possible under difficult conditions. The Chamber staff, with the support of our Regional Benefactors, continued to assist our members across the region providing PPE, information, and other resources. Chamber members and non-members alike should not hesitate to call our office for help when needed. All of us are part of the region’s economy and we will continue to support each other until we can look at this horrible virus in our rearview mirror.
My heart goes out to those suffering economic hardship and personal loss, but I remain optimistic that the foundation of our recovery is in place. We will build on the economic momentum that we enjoyed at the turn of the last year. Job growth continues at General Dynamics Electric Boat. Investment in green technology through offshore wind will contribute millions to the local economy, bring high quality jobs, and fuel manufacturing. Pfizer and burgeoning biotech companies expand our biopharmaceutical sector. The diversity and stability of eastern Connecticut’s economy will contribute to the survival and recovery of small businesses, arts organizations, and tourism venues so heavily impacted by COVID.
Eastern Connecticut represents the best of the American spirit: innovation, perseverance, and generosity. I enter the New Year with the same sense of gratitude I felt at the beginning of 2020, but with a deeper appreciation of our community’s resilience and strength.
We are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, so stay healthy and comply with the Governor’s and CDC’s guidelines.
Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Photos: Costco’s quick response to feed guests at NL Homeless Hospitality Center on a snow day, Backus Hospital employees delivered groceries and donations to St. Vincent de Paul Place in Norwich, Flanders Fish Market gathered donations for Safe Futures, volunteers from Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation at the United Way of SECT Tommy Toy distribution.