Steven Wallace

Steven Wallace

President’s Message: In today’s tough business climate and economy, many organizations are finding great success by “co-sharing mutual responsibilities.” Co-sharing mutual responsibilities are big words for what us little guys call forming partnerships. When formed properly, these partnerships create win-win situations for all involved.

Before I talk about partnerships, I would like to define it by quoting Alan Greenspan. Greenspan once said, “I have found no greater satisfaction than achieving success through honest dealing and strict adherence to the view that, for you to gain, those you deal with should gain as well.”

 

 

In these few words, he includes three things: what he gets, how the game is played, and what his partners get. I look for all three of these elements in the chamber’s partnerships, too.

The biggest overall satisfaction that I gain from being the director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber is our organization — staff and volunteers — finding ways to help businesses prosper. With nearly 700 members and 132 different business sectors, that mission gets a little hectic at times. This is where partnerships come in.

As many of you know, there are multiple business associations in the chamber’s 16- town region — 11 at my last count. We all strive to support businesses and build quality of place in our communities. The task for us all is to prevent duplication of effort and find ways to complement/support each other’s events.

While this effort is still a work in progress, the good news is we have all generally agreed that the chamber’s job is to get the word out far and wide about the Mid-coast; once folks get here, it is up to the towns and business associations to keep them busy. I look forward to tightening our mutual focus, building trust, and expanding collaborations with all 11 associations during 2012.

One of the collaborations I feel has had a very positive impact for the entire region is with our work force partners, Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc. and Goodwill of Northern New England.

Coastal Counties Workforce, Inc., also known as CCWI, is one of the four local work force boards in the state of Maine. CCWI was established in 2003 and its staff works diligently to assist our area businesses and job seekers access federal, state and regional programs and funding.

Although most folks do not know it, CCWI was behind creating the BRAC Transition Center on the former Brunswick Naval Air Station — a national “best practice” on helping workers transition during a base closing. They assisted in implementing the Advanced Technology Center — the precursor to the collaborative Maine Advanced Technology and Engineering Center run by Southern Maine Community College at Brunswick Landing.

They have also worked diligently to bring in federal dollars to train Internet technology professionals and health care workers — jobs that area businesses say they desperately need a trained work force to fill.

Most recently, CCWI partnered with the SMMC to do business outreach and assistance. Through job fairs, seminars, educational events and surveys, we identified 73 businesses that were looking for workers and business assistance. Although we couldn’t assist every organization, our partnership was able to help some businesses with On-The-Job Training funds, employee placement, educational programs and access to economic development partners.

Our partnership with CCWI in 2011 was invaluable, and I look forward to even more collaborations during 2012 that support our mutual mission of helping businesses and employees succeed.

Speaking of economic development partnerships, did you know the chamber has partnered with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development by sharing office space?

Kristine Schuman fills the position of governor’s account executive and is located with us full time in the Border Trust Building. In this role, she serves as a business advocate and “you-need-an-answer-aboutbusiness and-I’ll-find-it problem solver” for the Mid-coast region. She can help you find out about permitting, what the state’s regulations are in a specific area, or help you access resources to start or expand a business. If you need assistance, do not hesitate to call her at 725-8797 and hit extension 2.

As I reflect on the three partnership groups I have identified above, business associations, work force agencies, and economic and community development specialists, it is very apparent to me that we all are working toward the same goal: helping our businesses and communities prosper.

It only makes sense that we work together, and I look forward to making these relationships stronger in 2012.


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