It was very apt that Chip Morrison listened to a parade of testimonials while seated in a beautiful Thos. Moser rocker at his farewell party last week in Lewiston.

The longtime president of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, Chip embraced “Buy Local” before it ever became a catchphrase. The custom rocker – a gift from the chamber – was made in nearby Auburn. For more than two decades while he was at the helm of the chamber, Chip bought his suits at Benoit’s (remember them? The upscale menswear retailer sprinkled around Maine), or J.C. Penney or now Kohl’s. His shoes were from Lamey-Wellehan. Nearly every meal he consumed came from establishments owned by chamber members.

His dedication to supporting and growing the chamber membership never flagged, culminating in 2013 when membership in the Androscoggin County Chamber topped Portland’s. During his tenure, a young professionals network was born, scholarship money flowed to more than $560,000, and the chamber advocated on behalf of countless economic development initiatives, including the rebirth of the Bates Mill complex, where, fittingly, his farewell party was held.

Now 70, Chip deserves to retire, having served as Auburn’s city manager and Maine’s commissioner of labor before taking the chamber post. But he’s not. He’s already assumed temporary leadership of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and intends to launch a startup that serves nonprofits.

Apparently the rocker won’t be getting a lot of action for a while yet.

FOREIGN CAPITAL

Did you see the item in Monday’s Wall Street Journal about EB-5 visa programs gaining more interest from foreign investors? The controversial program fast-tracks green cards for an investor and his or her family if they invest $500,000 or more in a project that creates at least 10 jobs in an area with high unemployment. There were 10,928 foreigners who applied to the program in the most recent fiscal year, up more than 70 percent from the 6,346 a year earlier, according to the WSJ.

Maine won federal authorization to launch an EB-5 center in Franklin County in 2011, but it never got enough momentum to attract any investment. The federal authorization still stands, so perhaps there will be some movement soon to tap into the program’s growing global popularity.

AEGEAN ANGST

Greece’s financial troubles continue to grip the world’s attention. While the country tries to figure out if another bailout from international creditors will gird its shaky economy, I wondered what Maine exports to the troubled nation.

According to WISERtrade, a research and analytical organization that monitors world trade, Maine exported about $607,000 worth of goods to Greece, a drop in the bucket to the $112 million Maine exported to European markets in 2014. The biggest export was industrial machinery and computers, accounting for $543,710. The next biggest was sound equipment ($20,037) followed by live animals ($14,471), medical instruments ($13,356) and fertilizers ($11,705).

Apparently in a land renowned for lamb, there’s no appetite for lobster.

Carol Coultas, business editor, can be contacted at 791-6460 or at:

[email protected]


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