MESSAGE FROM MATT BARBOUR, SMMC CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS: The planning committee had taken all the variables into account. The food was ready, the location tastefully adorned, the vendor booths were staged, and the energy was tangible. The weather was the only thing left to chance. Historically, it was the snow. How fitting we’ve been buried in it since that evening. It had almost become a rite of passage that the annual dinner beckoned snow.

On the night of Jan. 23, 2015, the Southern Mid Coast Maine Chamber held its annual dinner, coined The Big Night Out, at the old Borders Books location in Merrymeeting Plaza. With the new venue came a new format. Open networking, sprinkled with games and entertainment, and accompanied the normal awards and board elections. The goal of the event was to ring in 2015 with renewed energy for the chamber and its members. 2014 had been a year of transition, and like the caterpillar morphing into the butterfly, the chamber was ready to spread its wings, and on that night it did.

The slate of events for 2015 promises not to disappoint. Returning will be favorites like the Hacker’s Ball Golf Tournament and Oktoberfest. There will be opportunities to network and learn at the Chamber After Hours, Business-to-Business Expo, Regional Luncheon Speakers series, and Small Business Success Seminars.

We will provide opportunities to connect our veterans with local businesses looking to hire at the Hiring Maine’s Heroes Job Fair. And the dedicated chamber staff and volunteers have many other events in the works to round out the year, so be sure to stay tuned to the email newsletter or check in with the website.

While the events are a certainly a highlight of the chamber calendar, that’s not the full extent of what the chamber has to offer. There are opportunities to save at local retailers and get more involved in the local economy. The chamber website offers information on local events posted on the community calendar, as well as a business directory to help you locate the resources you need for you or your business.

And in 2015 we are focusing on expanding the information sharing and outreach into the communities we serve. Be it local zoning and planning matters, statewide legislative issues affecting our region, or connecting our businesses to the local community, we are committed to expanding our value proposition.

All of this is made possible thanks to our members, sponsors, staff and volunteers. The opportunities for getting involved are many and we welcome you and your business to become part of something special. The Big Night Out was just the beginning of a year of growth and success.

UPCOMING EVENT:

— “Proven Legal Strategies to Avoid and Handle Employment Discrimination Claims” is the topic for the Feb. 18, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Small Business Success Seminar at the Topsham Public Library (25 Foreside Road). Let Thad Zmistowski and Sarah Newell of Eaton Peabody help you navigate the employment discrimination laws that cause business owners and managers to lose sleep at night. Sarah and Thad will provide information you need to know to ensure that your business is following the law and using good judgment in hiring, managing and terminating employees. This program will address hiring practices, employee discipline and the mechanics of a proper termination and will provide businesses of any size with proven strategies to ensure compliance with employment discrimination laws. The program will also help businesses develop a plan for handling, defending, and, when appropriate, settling discrimination claims. Go to our scrolling calendar at www.midcoastmaine.com to register.

OUR MEMBERS: The chamber proudly serves 700 businesses and organizations in the following communities: Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Brunswick, Dresden, Edgecomb, Georgetown, Harpswell, Phippsburg, Richmond, Topsham, West Bath, Westport Island, Wiscasset and Woolwich.

Our members represent 132 varied business sectors. Find them all on our website.


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