This week I wanted to highlight some hopeful things to look forward to in the coming weeks and months. We could all use some positivity right now, and this news is finally ready to share. Here are several events, to plan on:

Midcoast Tree Festival- November
In coordination with our partners Spectrum Generations (Meals on Wheels) and All Saint’s Parish (St. John’s), the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber is proud to announce the return of the Midcoast Tree Festival this November 20-22 and November 27-29, 2020. Due to COVID-19, many events have been cancelled or altered which is why our current plan to hold this event is so exciting for all of us.

Briefly, the Midcoast Tree Festival is held at St. John’s Community Center in Brunswick, with dozens of tree spaces having a minimum of $500 of gifts, decorations and a tree. Attendees pay a $2 entry fee and tickets are 50 cents apiece (kids 12 and under are free). Last year was a thrilling first year success, and though we must alter some aspects of the event for 2020 due to the coronavirus we expect the event to be approved as a hybrid in-person and online event.

Basically, we know that even if COVID-19 was eradicated tomorrow that some people wouldn’t be comfortable being in large crowds. Therefore we are creating a website that will help showcase the trees and tickets can be purchased online for the trees you want. The actual protocol for how it will work still needs to be approved by the gaming commission, but we have time to create the proper protocols necessary.

This hybrid model would then allow for some people to buy tickets online, while other people can attend in person. The exact number of in-person guests is yet to be determined. Currently, COVID-19 regulations say less than 50 people can be on-site for an indoor event, however that number could change by November. Depending on fire code capacity with the additional expected trees and the COVID regulations, we will have a set number of people having tree viewings every hour. People will be able to reserve tree viewing times and walk-ins will be welcome if we are not at capacity for that hour. Between viewings we will have routine cleanings.

The goal is that all people will be able to experience the trees and that we can make the event as joyful, jolly and regular as possible, with some expected alterations. Businesses with Tree spaces last year were offered early bird registration beginning Sept. 1, and new tree spaces will be available Sept. 8. If your business wants to give back to the community this year through the MTF we would love to have you. You can register, beginning Sept. 8, through the SMMC office. Shoot me an e-mail at [email protected]

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Registration for volunteer shifts will be available around Oct. 1. Our volunteer need will be greatly dependent on the exact protocols from the gaming commission and the capacity counts for attendees. Also sponsorships are available through the SMMC office anytime for Decorating Sponsorships, Media Sponsors, T-Shirt Sponsors and more.

Leaders Lead in the Midcoast- Sept. 15, 29 & Oct. 13
Along with Price Associates, the SMMC is hosting a three-part online leadership series which we will present over Zoom every two weeks beginning on Sept. 15. These 60-minute discussions will be at lunch on these specific Tuesdays from noon to 1 p.m. and will help businesses and managers deal with some of the roadblocks that are always a part of business, but even more apparent during COVID-19.

The first session on September 15 is called Making Stress Work For You. The second session on Sept. 29 is called Increasing Team & Employee Engagement. The third session on Oct. 13 is called Building Your Leadership Pipeline. Each of the first two sessions have an in-depth personal assessment you do prior to the session, and the session discusses how you can utilize the self-assessment to make yourself a better leader. Session #1’s personal assessment is a stress assessment while Session #2 has a communications assessment. The third session will take principles from the first two sessions and show you how to build these leadership skills in your teams and to build capacity for future leaders to thrive in your organization.

Each session is $10, or you can get the full series for $25. You can register online at www.midcoastmaine.com If you sign up for the first session you will even find the seven minute video interview with Francis Eberle of Price Associates explaining more about the first session. Or you can find the video on the SMMC YouTube channel.

Candidate Interviews & Candidate Forums- September/October
The SMMC is in the process of contacting all of the candidates for the state representative and state senate seats in or 16 community region for two specific events. We want to first record one-on-one interviews with each candidate (five-to-seven-minute videos) that we can use on our Facebook and YouTube channel and the candidates can use for their own campaigning. Secondly, we would love to organize Zoom forums in October with several candidates and constituents to go over topics and to get your questions answered. With COVID-19, typical meet-the-candidate breakfasts are likely not possible so we hope these will help inform you. Stay tuned for updates on both of these events (and candidates if you read this before you check your email, reach out to me to set up a time to chat).

BDA’s 2nd Friday Brunswick, Sept. 11, 4-7 p.m.
BDA’s Speaker Series with Dr. Nirav Shah, Lois Skillings & Christopher Bowe, Sept. 16 9-10 a.m. (over Zoom)
For more info on these events check out www.brunswickdowntown.org

Maine Maritime Museum Cruises, Sept. 1–Oct. 25
Get out on the water with any of Maine Maritime Museum’s daily cruises, running until October 25. Check out more at www.mainemartitimemuseum.org

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

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