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While providing COVID-19 business assistance, some normal chamber activity carries on

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Amid its work providing resources for those newly out of work and fielding a flood of questions, the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut is still doing some of what it would normally do this time of year — albeit in a different format.

The chamber held its annual meeting, initially scheduled for this past Tuesday at Foxwoods, virtually via the video conferencing service Zoom on March 24. Chamber President Tony Sheridan said about 75 to 100 people attended and that the meeting "went surprisingly well."

Mystic Aquarium CEO Stephen Coan was elected the 2020 chairman of the chamber's board of directors, replacing Chelsea Groton Bank CEO Michael Rauh in that role.

The other board officers for 2020 are Vice Chairs Mary Ellen Jukoski, Paul Nugent and Jennifer Granger; Secretary Heather Cini Roberts; and Treasurer David Pugliese.

Sheridan also announced staffing changes at the meeting. Megan Gilbert, who has been with the chamber for eight years, most recently as director of programs, has accepted the role of vice president. She replaces Amanda Ljubicic, who left to work at her family business, Ace Overhead Doors. In addition, Courtney Assad has been promoted from program coordinator to manager of tourism services.

The originally planned annual meeting is being re-envisioned as a 110th anniversary celebration for the chamber, which plans on holding that in person later this year.

As for its work during the pandemic, the chamber on its website,, has available government news and information, economic assistance resources for businesses, employer/employee resources, a form for businesses to fill out on how the chamber can help, and a list of restaurants offering takeout, curbside pickup or delivery.

Sheridan encourages business owners to check if their insurance policies include business interruption provisions.

This past week, the chamber held virtual updates from Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and a webinar on "messaging during a market disruption" from Maria Miranda of Miranda Creative.

Bridget Brown of StoryMatters LLC will be joining the chamber for a free virtual improvisational workshop on April 15 at noon, and the chamber will be holding free virtual networking on April 21. To register for either, visit

Sheridan said an upcoming speaker will be Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby, but that hasn't been scheduled yet.

The chamber also intends to soon announce this year's nonprofit recipients of grants from its foundation.


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