A couple of weeks ago I ran 10 updates in this column on 10 different topics, at about 100 words apiece, and I received some positive feedback on doing that occasionally, as opposed to a single topic column. This will be a great format to highlight ten specific events that otherwise might get overlooked. We don’t have 10 events to promote this week so I’ve sprinkled in some general business insights and chamber updates to round out the list below. Enjoy!

Updated state of Maine COVID industry checklists
As our COVID numbers improve the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) continues to update the industry checklists for COVID prevention. These updates are a great way to see the tangible, positive business effects of reducing case counts and increasing vaccinations. For instance, this is where it was posted on March 26 that indoor gatherings can be up to 50% capacity and outdoor gatherings up to 75% capacity (with May 24 moving up to 75% indoors and 100% outdoors). Monday, the department released updates for the following categories: Large Gatherings/Ticketed Events, Organized Racing Events, Town Meetings, and Transportation. The update also established a Private Events checklist. Check out www.miane.gov/decd for more information.

Building work-life boundaries
Our recent business survey found that 1 in 4 businesses will be continuing remote work for some employees going forward which is ideal for high-risk employees, those with childcare needs and those workers who do most of their work online. One thing that has emerged from conversations I’ve had with these employees is building boundaries. The Sunday before Easter, I received four different work-related messages asking for responses and replies. I told them all I won’t be responding until Monday. For all of us working from our kitchen tables, and whose home has become their office, you need to know, we all deserve to unplug and have our family time. If you start compromising on that, you will assuredly burn yourself out. Build those boundaries for you and your loved ones.

SMMC hiring update
Last week, we announced that our chamber of commerce is hiring for a coordinator to help with existing projects and to initiate new ones. We posted the job on the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber Facebook page, and posted it on our SMMC webpage and www.midcoastmaine.com. If you know a friendly, community-minded problem solver looking for 20 hours per week to start, make sure they take a look at this.

The work continues in Augusta
Just a quick note, because I’ve received several questions in the past week about the bills that are in committee at the Statehouse. Yes, the state Legislature did pass a budget and end the regular session in order to get the budget passed 90 days prior to July 1. But they also passed a measure to continue working on the bills in committee and they’re expected to reconvene a special session in late April to take up some of those bills, and could continue to do committee work into May and beyond. The first session typically goes until mid-June.

In case you missed it: All Maine residents 16+ are eligible today for COVID-19 Vaccines
You may already know this, but it’s hard for me to express how much your businesses need you to get vaccinated. As described in the first bullet point, the more vaccinations we get, the quicker we can open up, and your businesses need to get back to business as usual. The state of Maine website has some great information on vaccinations at www.maine.gov and Mid Coast Hospital has been sending lots of information to the chamber. E-mail me and I can forward it to you: [email protected]

Who is Your Covid Hero?
We opened submissions last week for citizens, employees and business leaders to submit to the chamber who their Covid Heroes are. We want to honor everyone that gets nominated on May 13 during our Awards Recognition event. Your Covid Hero can be anyone who helped you get through the pandemic, in whatever form that takes. Thus far, we’ve received nominations for teachers, a poet, frontline workers and more. You can submit them two ways: write a 100-word nomination e-mail and send it to me at [email protected] or fill out the form on the SMMC homepage and submit it that way. Nominations are due by April 23.

BIMF to Host Alumni Discussion Sunday on Zoom
Bowdoin International Music Festival is hosting an online discussion, this Sunday, April 11 at 4 p.m. with three of their remarkable alumni, and you’re invited to join. Artistic Directors David Ying and Phillip Ying will be catching up with Derek Bermel, Viet Cuong and Vivian Fung who are alumni from the program who are now composing pieces around the globe. Find out more about their impressive backgrounds, and sign up at www.bowdoinfestival.org

Coastal Connector: Amtrak to Rockland?
As the details from President Biden’s new infrastructure bill emerges, one piece contained in it was expanded rail. That led to Amtrak posting a map last week of what some of their route expansions would look like should they receive the $80 billion forecast in the plan. Of course, it’s all speculative, but expanding the Amtrak Downeaster line from Brunswick up to Rockland was on the map. This has been a project we’ve worked on for several years through our tourism council, and could greatly expand tourism in the Midcoast.

Two Quick Hits: SMMC guide and young professionals group
Our chamber team is partnering with RFB Advertising to produce a 2021 edition of our chamber guide that we print 15,000 copies of, distribute around the state and mail directly to relocators and tourists. E-mail me if you want to have your business included in it- [email protected]. A group of young professionals are working on re-launching the Midcoast Edge later this spring. If you want to get on their contact list for events, e-mail me as well.

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

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