We are beginning to see cautious signs of life as it was before Covid-19. More shops are opening up, local traffic is in increasing, working in offices remotely is transitioning to skeleton crews beginning to make more office hours, walking trails have more regulars and curbside service (for those still under those restrictions) has lost the alien stigma of new fangledness and is more readily accepted as a legitimate way to do business.

We aren’t ‘back to normal’ by any means, but progress comes in steps and stages and I have felt a real transition over the last week or so to more people being comfortable with this new state of business. Now, for sure, we need to open up businesses in Cumberland, York and Androscoggin counties for our entire region to feel whole again, but no doubt there are signs of progress.

To that end, this week I wanted to touch on some chamber projects and other business topics you should know about whether you’re a business leader or a citizen of our region. There has been a lot going on in recent weeks, and keeping an eye on the business news of the area may have been difficult, and understandably so. Thus, here are a few reminders of business news we have promoted but you may have missed, and some new updates too.

SMMC Board Sends Letter to Governor with Re-Opening Plan

Many of the chamber members heard about this in our weekly e-newsletter, but the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber’s Board of Directors, of which I am the executive director, drafted and submitted a letter to the governor’s office early last week. The letter made two distinct requests for re-opening Maine’s economy. The first request was to include Harpswell and Brunswick in the Rural Re-Opening Plan so that businesses in those communities are able to operate under the same rules as businesses in Topsham, Bath and the other twelve communities we serve. To have two major communities in our chamber region operating under separate rules from their neighbors is very difficult especially when there are currently zero active Covid-19 cases in any healthcare or senior living facility in our chamber region.

The second request was to ask the state to consider a single re-opening date in the next two-three weeks for all businesses who are not allowed to open currently. In exchange our chamber vowed to help create additional health and safety checklists for industries that don’t have them, to help promote increased awareness of the checklists and we offered to create two new programs to help the State and the business community with re-opening. That last part is why we did not release the letter in full to the public because the two new programs were still in development when the letter was sent. One of the proposed programs is still in development while the other has since been created – and it needs your help. It is…

Online Survey of Consumer Attitudes Towards Masks & Social Distancing Needs You!

Last Thursday our chamber released an online survey about consumer attitudes about masks and social distancing. The idea is simple; ask customers how they feel about masks and see if it changes their purchasing and patronage decisions. We were hoping for 500 responses in a week, and we have easily doubled that number in just three full days (as I write this).

The survey is easy; 20 questions and it takes six-eight minutes to complete. It’s not for businesses to take, but for consumers, meaning you. And anyone can take it. You can find it on the SMMC website (at www.midcoastmaine.com), the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber Facebook page or e-mail me at [email protected] and I can send the link to you. Please take it and share it.

The idea is that from the results we’ll be able to inform business owners how much customers value masks in businesses and social distancing. This should also be incredibly informative for the state of Maine as they create and regulate coronavirus responses and determine the best way to communicate safety protocols to Mainers.

Hacker’s Ball Golf Tournament, June 26 at Brunswick Golf Course

Golfers, unite! The SMMC Golf tournament will have a Covid-19 considerate format for its golf tournament on Friday, June 26 at Brunswick Golf Course. The tournament will feature no gatherings of 50 people in one space (meaning no pre-tournament gathering of all players) but rather staggered tee times throughout the morning to ensure social distancing. Other safety precautions will be in place too, but it will be a day of golf, and that’s good for everyone. We’ll be profiling all of the changes later this week, or contact the chamber for more info. All players of all ability levels are welcome.

Community Matters: Two More Weeks

As more businesses are reopening, it’s important to know who is open and when. This Friday will be our fourth edition of Community Matters, a full page in The Times Record dedicated to free business ads showing who is open. If your business wants an ad, contact The Times Record staff or e-mail [email protected] and I can tell you how. The ads are free with a donated gift card which won’t be used until the Midcoast Tree Festival in November. Contact me for details.

Three Organizations Need Your Help With Match Gift Donations

Priority Real Estate Group has been a key partner for many organizations over the years. In this time of need for so many, they were able to pledge $5,000 in gifts for community matches to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bath/Brunswick, Oasis Free Clinics and the Brunswick Teen Center. A match gift is a pledge to give a certain amount of money if the organization can get other donors to match the amount. Not everyone is able to give right now, but for those that can, your donation can go twice as far thanks to these match gifts.

Cory King is the Executive Director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

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