• Today Online

Simsbury, Granby COCs forge historic merger

Updated: Mar 10

Featuring additional reporting and quotes, this article is an updated and enhanced version of the story that appeared in the March edition of Today Magazine, our monthly publication


By Bruce Deckert — Today Magazine Editor-in-Chief


The Simsbury Chamber of Commerce and Granby Chamber of Commerce have joined forces in a groundbreaking move aimed to strengthen the Connecticut business community. The memberships of both chambers voted overwhelmingly to approve the move in early March.

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The Simsbury-Granby merger comes in the wake of the uniting of the Avon and Canton COCs last year — the vote to confirm that pivotal development occurred in late 2020, with the de facto launch of the new Avon-Canton COC transpiring in January 2021.


The new name of the merged Simsbury-Granby COC has yet to be determined. The combined organization will officially begin on June 1.


This stronger, united COC hopes to serve a wider geographic area that encompasses the Farmington Valley, Greater Hartford and north-central Connecticut.


Simsbury COC executive director Morgan Hilyard will lead the merged COC. She took Simsbury’s chamber reins in March 2020 — the same month that the state-mandated COVID shutdown of nonessential businesses took place. Simsbury COC marketing director Lesly Juarez plans to continue in her marketing role with the new COC.


“We are so proud to see membership take advantage of this historic opportunity,” Hilyard says, “and we are so appreciative to all those who have put time and effort into this merger process.”

"It’s an honor to help oversee the integration of two great chambers of two great towns" — new COC president Tim Baker

Two past presidents of the COCs — Lou George (Simsbury) and John Laudati (Granby) — led the charge that resulted in the new organization.

"They initially had the idea to pursue the merger in the late fall of 2019," Hilyard notes.

George and Laudati are both attorneys at local law firms. Hassett & George is based in Simsbury and Glastonbury, while Laudati's firm — Murphy, Laudati, Kiel & Rattigan (MLK&R) — has offices in Granby and Farmington. COC presidents Bob Marx (Granby) and Joe Beale (Simsbury) were likewise instrumental in the process.


All of the above-named COC employees and officials were on the merger task force, along with Granby board member Mary Anne Guarco, who is also a past president of the Granby COC.


These key players worked together as the lead conductors of a chamber business symphony that seeks to sound notes of success and community investment in the Farmington Valley and beyond.


Granby resident Tim Baker, owner of Simsbury-based investment planning firm Metric Financial, is slated to be the first board president of the merged COC. He is on the board of directors of both the Simsbury and Granby COCs.


"It’s an honor to help oversee the integration of two great chambers of two great towns," Baker says. "We have a great, experienced team of board members that will help make this [merger] seamless and successful. ... We believe the heightened awareness of this joint chamber will attract new members from surrounding towns, creating even more opportunities for everyone."


Granby COC executive director John French is planning to retire after a constructive tenure serving the Granby business community. He was a longtime board member before becoming the director, including a stint as board president.

This stronger, united COC hopes to serve a wider geographic area that encompasses the Farmington Valley, Greater Hartford and north-central Connecticut.

A post on the Granby CT Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page thanks French for his service:


“John was hired as the chamber’s paid administrator in 2016 and helped to grow membership, expand the website and increase awareness through social media. His contributions to the success of Celebrate Granby are immeasurable.”


The five core Farmington Valley towns covered by Today Magazine are Avon, Canton, Farmington, Granby and Simsbury. The Farmington Chamber of Commerce disbanded in 2020, but the Farmington geographic area is included in the regional Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce.


Upcoming events for the combined Simsbury-Granby COC include:


• Friday, March 25 — 7:30 a.m.

Business Leaders Breakfast


• Wednesday, March 30 — 5:30 pm

Young Professionals Sip & Learn with Avon-Canton + Granby COCs


• Monday, June 13

Granby & Simsbury Golf Tournament

www.simsburycoc.orgwww.granbycoc.org

Simsbury COC — 860-651-7307

720 Hopmeadow Street

Simsbury, CT 06070


• Related news — Canton, Avon Chambers joining forces



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