Cynicism is so easy, predictable and, honestly, quite lazy. It takes hardly any effort to point out how something wasn’t done the way you would have done it or how someone said something they shouldn’t have. Social media is littered with people critiquing things they don’t like, things they disagree with or things that genuinely upset them. I do it myself; it’s so easy to fall into negativity spirals. Even when being righteous and speaking truth to heinous acts or condemning things that hurt our communities, we’re still doing so in a way that is negative. As we get closer to Election Day, it seemingly gets a little worse, as our airwaves are cluttered with ads saying, “Let me tell you why this opposing candidate isn’t a good person.” It tangibly weighs us down.

Therefore, this week, I want to highlight some things that are exciting me. One could argue there are as many good things happening in the world as bad ones, but the negative ones suck the oxygen out of the room. Well, for a few minutes, let me shine a little light on some positive projects, events and activities happening in our Bath-Brunswick-Topsham region right now. I encourage you to share this news with anyone who is trying to bring you down, because this is all really positive stuff.

WILL Power is back

Our chamber has a Women in Local Leadership team that had its first quarterly event in over a year last night as it gets ready to bring quarterly events back in 2023. The event, held at Long Reach Kitchen + Catering in Bath, was a brainstorming mixer where dozens of local business leaders shared thoughts on what events they would like to see in 2023.

This is exciting, because when WILL Power was running quarterly events prior to the pandemic, it was one of the best things our chamber did. We have held Meet the Author events, CEO Champion Panel Luncheons, Speed Networking nights, self-defense courses and more. Each event was created because businesswomen in the area said, “These are the events we would love to be a part of.”

After last night, we now have six to 10 ideas to run with, and from that, our organizing team will select four events for next year. If you have interest in either being part of the event planning team or attending these events, email [email protected] and I can be sure to get your email on the correct distribution list for what you want to be a part of.

Meet the candidates

And just like that, we are five weeks away from Election Day. Do you know who your candidates are for the state Senate or the state House of Representatives? Due to the 2020 Census results, some of our districts have changed on the house side, so the person who used to represent you may be in a different district now.

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Our chamber is looking to help you with all of this. Two years ago, we did one-on-one Zoom interviews with candidates, and I’m working this week to get those scheduled with our candidates again. It’s a lot of interviews (18-20), but it’s also well worth it, so that you get to hear from them in their own words. Once we have them scheduled and recorded, I’ll let you know in this column — hopefully, we’ll have them done by Oct. 20.

Additionally, we have a Chamber After Hours event at Reform Physical Therapy from 5-7 p.m. Oct. 18 to do a ribbon-cutting and open house. We are inviting all candidates to attend that as well, so if you are a businessperson in the area who wants to attend that free event, mark your calendars and look for our invitation on the BBRC Facebook page (or in our weekly e-newsletter).

Career Exploration Internships rolling out soon

We’ve been doing a ton of work behind the scenes with schools and local community organizations applying for a State of Maine grant (which we received) and building a Career Exploration Internship programs for local students. When creating something this broad, involving three school districts, state regulations, grant-dedicated funding and business protocols, it takes a lot of smart, passionate people working together, and I’m proud to say we have that partnership working in our region right now.

Through our weekly meetings, we’ve answered many questions about the best way to create this program and have done so in a practical way that should make sense for both the businesses and the students in the program. What ultimately will become of this is a credit-earning, internship-style work-study program where a student spends 40-60 hours exploring a career path they’re interested in while also earning a stipend for paid meaningful work. Very exciting stuff. What a great way for businesses to show students what their career path could be with the help of the schools and the chamber.

More Chamber Works programming

The Career Exploration program is taking up most of the time right now, but our chamber is concurrently working on our One-Minute Job Posting Videos program and our Guidance Counselor Bus Tours program for launch later this year as well. This is all part of the chamber’s brand-new Chamber Works 2030 program announced earlier this year.

Midcoast Tree Festival registrations are open

We’re only seven weeks away from the 4th Annual Midcoast Tree Festival, and it’s looking like this one will be our biggest one yet. We’re over halfway to breaking our record for number of tree spaces, as planning is well underway.

The most important change this year is that all of the event information, including tree registrations, volunteer signups, sponsorship opportunities and more, live on the dedicated event website midcoasttreefestival.com. Of course, you can still call me at the chamber office if you have any questions (725-8797), but check out that site, too.

Cory King is the executive director of the Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber.

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