This week I have 10 observations I’ve made over the particularly odd summer of 2020 thus far. Some are commentary on things that have happened, other observations on things yet to come, but all of them seem relevant enough to share with all of you.

BDA reboots live in-person events

Brunswick Downtown Association has their second Music on the Mall this week as they have changed to a drive-in format at the Brunswick Parks and Rec. building up on Brunswick Landing. The initial concert was two weeks ago, and it continues this Wednesday, July 29 at 6:30 p.m. with JimmyJo & the Jumbol’Ayuhs. The BDA also brought back their monthly summer art walk a couple of weeks ago (2nd Friday Brunswick), with the next edition of that happening in downtown Brunswick on Aug. 14.

Main Street Bath launches new hashtag, #ForTheLoveOfBath

Main Street Bath, the city of Bath, Halcyon Yarn, Union+Co., Maine Maritime Museum and other business have launched a new marketing campaign to attract New Hampshire, Vermont and other Maine tourists to visit. They rolled out the #ForTheLoveOfBath campaign earlier this month. The focus is to get Bath-area businesses to use the hashtag in their social media and Twitter posts between July 6 and Oct. 15. The rollout included two incredible videos that have thousands of views already. Find them by searching “For the Love of Bath” on YouTube.

Vacationing in Maine

2020 is providing a great opportunity to experience other Maine destinations that you may typically avoid during most summers, when the tourist traffic is too much. With many people taking vacations over the next four weeks before school begins, now is a great time to remind yourself why people call where we live Vacationland.

Crooker institute finds new way to attract employees

Earlier this summer, Crooker Construction welcomed their first class of students interested in a career in the construction industry. Unlike simply hiring off resumes and background, Crooker screened candidates for the personality traits and motivations they sought to be accepted in the program. The first class of students learned about the different facets of their organization for a couple of weeks before getting out on the job site. It’s a truly interesting way to approach hiring and is especially effective in getting employees who are switching career paths- a unique hiring solution indeed.

Importance of BIW and their employees to our shipbuilding history

President and CEO of the Maine State Chamber Dana Connors wrote a wonderful op-ed in a recent edition of the Portland Press Herald that highlighted our history of shipbuilding in Bath. Whenever there is a strike, it brings into focus how much the business supports the community and how much the employees of the company shape the community. The op-ed did not take sides on the negotiation but rather discussed the impact Bath Iron Works/General Dynamics has had on the entire state, by making world-class ships here in Maine, and how they support Maine’s economy. It also mentioned the value each and every employee of BIW brings to our community and how their hard work makes all of us swell with community pride. The op-ed asked for a resolution to the disagreement so we can continue growing our region together, and our Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, hopes the two sides can find a resolution soon too.

Amtrak Downeaster Running More Trips

One way to gauge the re-opening is to look at public transportation to see how many people are using it. Increased ridership on buses and trains is a good indicator that we are returning to more regular business. Amtrak Downeaster increased to running four daily trips between Boston and Brunswick on July 20.

Don’t kill the messenger, or the gate keeper

We have had relatively few reported incidents of COVID-19 in our area, but it’s worth noting that many retailers, especially large retailers, have a frontline worker keeping a tally of the number of people coming into their store. Additionally, they often are charged with reminding those not wearing masks that it is required in the business.

You have to know that this frontline worker greeting customers is very unlikely to be the one who decided their store would be compliant to this policy. They got the unfortunate task of having to be the enforcer. They’re just doing their job. Please be patient and kind to them. They don’t need to be yelled at for a decision they didn’t make.

It’s an election year. Do you know who your candidates are?

Primaries happened earlier this month to determine the candidates for your state Representatives and state Senators. Do you know who the candidates are in your district, including any third-party candidates? A good way to find out is to call your town office. Then I’d encourage you to research them to find out what their views are, or give them a call or e-mail. In my experience candidates love getting to know their constituents and knowing what they value.

You know Joe Biden and Sara Gideon, but do you know the House candidates challenging incumbents?

President Donald Trump (R) and Sen. Susan Collins (R) have well-known challengers for their seats, but do you know the challengers to our incumbents in the House of Representatives? Rep. Chellie Pingree (D) will be challenged by Jay Allen (R), while Rep. Jared Golden (D) will be challenged by Dale Crafts (R).

Chamber sees spike in travel requests

Typically every summer we get dozens of weekly calls, emails and guest guide requests from around the country as people plan their trips to Maine. It’s been very quiet this year, until about 10 days ago when we began receiving 1-3 calls or inquires per day from travelers. It’s not up to typical levels of interest yet, but it’s a good sign of increased activity for the weeks ahead. Any good sign like this should be shared.

Cory King is the executive director of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber.

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