SCARBOROUGH — By maintaining strong connections with each other, sharing strategies and working collaboratively to combat the effects of a poor economy, small businesses can increase their chances for success and growth during hard times.

That’s the message organizer Karen D’Andrea hopes businesses will take away from the first Scarborough Small Business Town Hall Meeting and Resource Fair to be held at the Scarborough Library. Co-sponsored by the library and the Scarborough Economic Development Corp. to coincide with Small Business Week, the event will feature a town meeting-style forum facilitated by management consultant Susan deGrandpre and will host more than a dozen area resources for small businesses.

“I really wanted this to be a positive agenda,” D’Andrea said. “We see this meeting as a catalyst.”

When they began brainstorming for the event, D’Andrea, deGrandpre and library Director Nancy Crowell looked to responses and ideas they’d heard recently during the Scarborough Community Chamber/SEDCO vision survey project with local small businesses. The results of that survey have not yet been compiled and released to the public.

“We talked a lot about what we got out of those visioning sessions – staying connected, how can the business community have good communication with each other, what’s vital to their health and longevity, staying solvent and staying here – the quality of place,” D’Andrea said.

Though she’s not sure what to expect from the forum, D’Andrea said she’s confident that by networking and communicating, businesses can find ways to collaborate to save money. In addition, she’s hoping the representatives from many local and state agencies and organizations geared toward helping small businesses will be useful resources for many attendees.

The Monday, May 18 event, which begins at 3:30 p.m., will flow into the Scarborough Community Chamber’s “Business after Five” gathering, held at the library from 5-7 p.m. While some may come for the refreshments, the Chamber get-together is also an good opportunity for business people to network and continue that “good energy” from the town hall forum, D’Andrea said.

Stressing that the event is not a job fair, D’Andrea said “it’s about listening to some concerns businesses have but more about taking concerns and moving them in a positive way so businesses can benefit from that.”

“It’s about putting all these bright minds in one room,” she said.

Harvey Rosenfeld, director of SEDCO, said he thought the business forum and fair is “a great idea.”

“We worked with (D’Andrea) to tie it in to small business week. It seemed like a very compatible thing,” Rosenfeld said. “Someone might hook up with some organization that might assist them. If this works, I’d like to expand on it.”

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected].

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