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Over the past year, Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB) members across the state have been hit hard by the health, safety, and economic effects of the Coronavirus. Many meeting venues, hotels, restaurants, attractions, and related vendors laid off employees or closed their doors temporarily or permanently, and almost all have been forced to modify the way they work.

Despite financial and health challenges, numerous Connecticut businesses and organizations have taken actions to move forward in safe and inspirational ways. That is why the “Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau’s Hospitality Heroes Recognition” was established. The new recognition program highlights hospitality industry members for their innovative business initiatives and community support over the past difficult year. This week, CTCSB announced its first group of honorees: the Connecticut Event Industry Coalition; Max Cares Foundation; Mohegan Sun; and the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale.

“Several times a year, we will present this ‘Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau’s Hospitality Heroes Recognition’ to members and partners who have made a business or social responsibility impact in the meetings and hospitality industry, with their employees, their clients, or in their local communities,” explains Robert Murdock, President of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB). The CTCSB is Connecticut’s only statewide meetings and sports event sales and marketing organization that works with planners and promoters to book new or returning conventions, meetings, and sports business. “Our hope is that it encourages others in our industry as the state and the nation safely reopen.”

“We commend the dedication and perseverance of these individuals and organizations because they have been exemplary models as we all move forward, and we want others to know of their exemplary work,” says Murdock. “As new honorees are selected, we will post their names and achievements on, and share the news with our hospitality industry members, business partners, and the general public.”

The first “Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau’s Hospitality Heroes Recognition” group of honorees are (in alphabetical order):

  • The Connecticut Event Industry Coalition – A vital part of the Connecticut economy, event planners and a wide range of event-related venues, service providers, and other entities mean big business. Events of all types held in Connecticut generate considerable revenue for the regions in which they are held that also lead to significant tax dollars for the State. The Connecticut Event Industry Coalition was formed last year when the hospitality industry was immediately adversely impacted by the pandemic, and business owners and workers foresaw a difficult future ahead. This grassroots effort was organized to establish a strong voice to inform State legislators and decision-makers about the economic value of events on businesses and residents across Connecticut. Within two months, there were 500 members and a Facebook group, and the Coalition continues to grow. Led by Shiran Nicholson, an experienced Connecticut and New York City event planner, the Coalition proactively works to advocate strong State legislative actions and a 2021-2022 budget that will boost this important industry.
  • Max Cares Foundation – This nonprofit organization was established in 2015 by the Max Restaurant Group (MRG) which consists of 10 restaurants and a catering company, all based in the Greater Hartford/Springfield, Mass. area. Since the onset of the pandemic, Max Cares Foundation has taken a leadership role to ensure that hospitality industry workers – including MRG’s own employees – and other area residents do not go without proper nutrition during the shutdown. Last March 2020, when on-premises dining was prohibited in Connecticut, MRG temporarily made a change to meet the needs of its guests and serve meals for take-out and delivery only, feeling it best to reduce interactions with the public and with each other. One week earlier, the Foundation and MRG held a fundraiser to benefit its employees, with 100 percent of the proceeds from gift card sales being placed in a relief fund. Not long after, Foundation Board members and MRG partners and managers distributed 500 bags of groceries to temporarily unemployed workers in all types of hospitality jobs, with the food and staples purchased by funds from the Foundation or donated by local markets and businesses. In the year since, the Foundation has held several similar food distributions, including one for Hartford-area residents in need. At this time, all Max restaurants are open for in-house dining (as well as take-out and delivery) and have implemented new cleaning procedures and protocols to provide its guests with a safe & healthy dining experience. Looking forward, MRG and the Max Cares Foundation will continue to step up and help when needed.
  • Mohegan Sun – The dynamic hotel and entertainment complex in Uncasville was an early leader in demonstrating to the meetings and hospitality industry worldwide how to continue working safety and creatively during COVID via hybrid meetings and events. Partnering with Northstar Meetings Group – an online platform for business and sports event organizers, planners, and incentive program professionals across all sectors – Mohegan Sun presented a special conference that helped businesses to navigate the new frontier of planning successful, hybrid business meetings, conferences and conventions while complying to the most current industry health and safety protocols. The hybrid event, entitled “Reconvening for Recovery: Live!” was held at Mohegan Sun’s Earth Expo & Convention Center with 75 in-person and over 1,000 digital attendees who were fully integrated into the event. In another first, a large-scale vaccination clinic operated by Yale New Haven Health opened on February 19 at Mohegan Sun on an appointment-only basis for Connecticut residents.
  • The Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale –Management and staff at the 306-room hotel in Downtown New Haven stepped forward during this challenging time to support local residents who are served by the Connecticut Food Bank. The Elm City’s hotel was one of 15 Omni Hotels & Resorts stops across the nation on the company’s “Here Comes Omni: Road Ready” event, a 5,115-mile road trip that demonstrated how hotels could safely host travelers and large meetings, which generated over $51,000 to Omni’s “Say Goodnight to Hunger” At a special outdoor event on October 5, 2020, local hospitality, and business partners, including the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau, carried in donations of nonperishable food items, and Omni presented a ceremonial check to the Food Bank signifying the 497,320 in donated meals generated by Omni New Haven since the program began in 2016.

 “The ‘Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau’s Hospitality Heroes Recognition’ program complements office’s longtime ‘Bring It Home Awards’,” adds the CTCSB’s Murdock. “Those awards are presented to local residents for their work in helping our Bureau to secure and promote meetings and events for Connecticut and generate revenue for their regions and State’s economies. These kinds of important partnerships maximize our staff’s efforts to sell Connecticut as a prime destination for meetings, conventions and sports events.”

For more information about the “Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau’s Hospitality Heroes Recognition” program, go to

Working in partnership with the state’s businesses, institutions, nonprofit organizations, and their surrounding communities, the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau (CTCSB) markets all of the state – convention and meeting venues, hotels and attractions, and sporting venues – as a premier destination for international, national, regional and statewide conferences, conventions, and major sports events. Events booked through the CTCSB result in spending by convention, meeting and sports events attendees during their visits to the state, generating Connecticut taxes. In addition, thousands of Connecticut jobs in the hospitality industry are supported by these events as a result of these bookings. For information about the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau, visit or call 860-728-6789.