Dear Chamber Membership and the Community:
For the past four years, it has been my great privilege and honor to serve the membership, this community and this region as Executive Director of the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce. It is somewhat bittersweet I realize the time has come to pass the baton onto the next Executive Director who will take the Chamber into the future. As for me, I need to focus on my health, family and friends and begin writing the next chapter of my life. I will continue to assist the Board and staff through this transition as they search for a New Executive Director.
In my time as Director, I have come to realize the important and integral role this Chamber plays in promoting economic development in the Midcoast Region. It not only represents our robust tourism industry, it helps address local issues such as workforce education, affordable housing, business education and community outreach. Last year, the Chamber’s Visitor Center welcomed over 14,000 visitors who stayed in our hotels, dined in our restaurants, shopped in our stores and supported our local businesses. At the same time, the Chamber was working on a variety of issues impacting economic development in our community. This Chamber is only as strong as its membership and it depends upon the feedback and support of the business community. I encourage local businesses and organizations to continue to support the Chamber ensuring it has a healthy future and remains strong and viable for all.
We have accomplished so much together, and I am truly grateful to the many individuals and organizations who have helped the Chamber achieve a number of these goals.
Together we have brought focus to our vibrant arts community by showcasing the work of local artists at the Chamber’s Visitor Center and creating the Boothbay Region Sculpture Trail. The Sculpture Trail, now in its third year, consists of 24 sculptures from artists all over New England. It is the only walking sculpture trail in the State. As visitors follow the Trail, they are taken on a scenic walking tour around the harbor and the sculptures beyond the downtown corridor allow them to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and diversity of our Region. Last summer, several of the sculptors from the Maine Symposium entered their pieces into the Points of View Art Auction raising over $73,000 in sales to help benefit the Boothbay Region Land Trust. The Chamber also collaborated with the Boothbay Harbor Rotary Club, The Railway Village, Maine Stoneworkers Guild, Studio 53 Fine Arts Gallery and the Boothbay Region Art Foundation to co-sponsor a variety of events helping to support the art community and attract visitors to our Region.
During January 2017, the Chamber experienced a furnace blow back and the entire building needed to be gutted and rebuilt. Thanks to St. Andrews Village, the staff and I were able to set up shop in one of their vacant apartments. It took five months working with the insurance company, the claims adjusters and contractors, all in addition to this small staff’s daily duties. Just before Memorial Day we were able to move back into a brand-new Chamber building, one this community can be truly proud of. From my point of view, the greatest gift of this unfortunate tragedy was the ability to create one of the most attractive and welcoming Visitor Centers in the State. Visitors are always delightfully surprised when they walk through our doors. It feels like home.
Another goal we had was to bring the Chamber into the digital age with a new user-friendly website and a stronger focus on social media. We worked together with ReachMaine to create a website that allows members and visitors to easily access information. Our Chamber website enjoys over 500,000-page views a year and continues to be a portal for our region and one of the first stops for visitor’s planning their trip to the State of Maine.
Through the generosity of LCI Fiber Optics, our Chamber was the first in the State to acquire an interactive touch screen. This interactive touch screen is a valuable tool in directing visitors to member businesses and provides them with a wealth of information on the Boothbay/Midcoast Region. Partnering with the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, we are in the planning stages of creating a separate link off our websites that attract young families to our region by providing them with all the relocation information they need. The Chamber has also stepped up its social media presence and during the past two years went from 1,200 to over 5,600 dedicated Facebook followers who like, share and comment on events in and around our Region.
When it comes to community outreach, our Chamber eagerly embraces collaborations with other local non-profit organizations to help spread the word about their valuable community programs. The Chamber currently partners with the Boothbay Region Garden Club, The Community Center, Set for Success, The Boothbay Region Health Center, St. Andrews Village, The Boothbay Region Community Resources Council, the American Legion, Lincoln Health and AOS98. Whether it’s encouraging employers to hire workers going through recovery, looking at how we might address supporting our local education system or helping to solve some of the other prominent issues facing our Region, we believe in the strength of fostering these important partnerships.
In 2017, we initiated our Chamber Chat Series in an effort to reach out to segments of the business community and learn more about their businesses and the products and services they offer. It was also an opportunity to learn how to better promote the important contributions they make towards economic growth in our Region. Since initiating the Chats, the Chamber has worked with the Marine and Working Waterfront, Health and Wellness, Building and Trades and the Wedding industries.
All these programs and partnerships contribute to enhancing business, promoting economic development and creating a sense of community for our special little corner of the world. I will always be a champion for this Chamber and the important role it plays in the special quality of life we enjoy here in the Boothbay Harbor Region. It is my hope with the continued dedication of a new Executive Director and the support and partnership of the Board of Directors, this Chamber will continue to thrive and be an economic driver for our Region well into the future.
With very best wishes for the future.