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New Chamber leader: Region must have 'one voice'

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The newly elected chairman of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut said Wednesday the regional business organization needs to speak with "one voice" to protect and promote eastern Connecticut's business interests.

Matthew Nick, a principal at the accounting and business consulting firm Kostin, Ruffkess & Co., in the New London office, assumed the reins of leading the regional chamber during the organization's annual meeting at The Spa at Norwich Inn, which attracted about 200 business leaders and civic officials. "Our region is blessed with an abundance of diverse business and talented individuals," he said.

But he also said the state faces some tough fiscal choices, noting that Wednesday was the day that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy unveiled his $19 billion-plus budget, which includes proposed new taxes of $1.5 billion along with proposed concessions from state employee unions and spending cutbacks.

"Now more than ever we need to speak in one voice to protect our business concerns. We need to speak loudly and clearly amongst ourselves and to our state," he said.

Tony Sheridan, president and chief executive officer of the Waterford-based organization, said the chamber ended the year with a balanced budget, which he said was a significant accomplishment during difficult economic times. He also thanked his staff, board of directors and trustees for their work and praised outgoing chamber chairman Grace S. Jones. She said the chamber accomplished much over the past year and thanked Sheridan and the chamber's small staff for carrying out a "monument of tasks" during 2010.

During the annual meeting, the chamber elected three new trustees: Robert Ross, who heads the state's Office of Military Affairs, and Eileen Duggan and Eric Callahan of the Suisman Shapiro law firm in New London.

The chamber also awarded honors to five individuals for their achievements in 2010: Bill Cornish of the Copperwood Grill in New London, Community Revitalization Leader award; Isabelle Singer, executive director of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Board of Directors Special Award; Sam Piotrkowski of Petrowsky Auctioneers, Volunteer of the Year, and Ken and Scott Capano of the Harp & Dragon Pub in Norwich, Small Business of the Year.

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