On Jan. 31, at our Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber’s bylaw-mandated Annual Meeting of the Membership, we completed a 10-month process of updating our bylaws. In total, there were 87 bylaw changes that were made, ranging from simple grammatical corrections to more substantive changes. The two most substantive changes were officially accepting the name of the chamber and updating the mission statement — but we will get to that in a little bit.

For a moment, I want to focus on the process of updating the bylaws, because as boring and tedious as that may sound to some, there is a valuable lesson in that. You see, last March we knew we needed to make at least one bylaw change. We had done a yearlong rebranding to try and get a new chamber logo and name, and after four rounds of member feedback, the winning name and logo was announced at last year’s Awards Dinner. Now, the first bylaw in nearly every set of bylaws ever created, is essentially ‘The organization shall be known as … ” Once we changed our name from the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber to Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber, we knew we needed to change at the very least that first bylaw.

Then we thought, well, we also need to change the bylaws everywhere the organization name is used (including changing the acronym of SMMC to BBRC). To be clear, this was the least we were required to do, and doing only that would have been about 45 minutes of work and then a vote at our next board meeting (as our board has the power to make bylaw changes at board meetings). That would have been the bare minimum of work, and we could have finished in a week or two.

It could have been quick and easy. We could have done the bare minimum and likely no member would be any the wiser or notice any difference in the service the chamber gives them if we would have taken the quick path. The problem with that path, though, is that is wasn’t the right one. Because the goal shouldn’t have been doing something as quickly as possible — and when asked “But who would know we didn’t do it thoroughly?”, my answer would be “I would know.”

Some people have gotten really used to doing just enough and sweeping it under the rug because “no one will really notice or care.” We need to hold ourselves more accountable. We need to remember that what we produce and what we do is a reflection on who we are and what our work ethics are. I never want to be the “just enough guy.” When I have typos in these very columns from week-to-week, I get so disappointed, because I didn’t put the time, effort and thought into these pieces, only to rushingly undercut myself with a misuse of there, their, they’re or writing “from” instead of “form” or vice versa. Many folks will say, “mistakes happen,” and I agree, they do — but I don’t have to like them.

And thus, when it came time to do just the bare minimum on the bylaws, we agreed that was not enough. Instead, our team embarked on numerous reviews of the bylaws beginning last spring. Sometimes we found that a new section of bylaws had gotten voted on and added to the bylaws, but the older section it was meant to replace didn’t get removed. We found instances when the lead person of the Board of Directors was referred to as chairman in one section and president in the other, which needed to be streamlined. All in all, there were 66 typo changes out of the 87 and 21 more substantive changes.


The substantive changes were again on a spectrum ranging from exceedingly minor to what we called fundamental changes. The largest fundamental change, besides changing the name of the chamber, of course, was our new mission statement.

The old mission statement was fine — but it was just fine, not inspiring and not descriptive. It was quite broad, seemingly intentionally, which doesn’t help a board of directors understand what they are then tasked to strive for.

The old mission statement (Bylaw 1.2) had read before the most recent change: ” … Our mission is to champion the growth, success and quality of life in our region.” Now, this mission statement is in no way false or misleading, surely championing growth, success and quality of life is kind and respectable.

But how do our monthly Chamber After Hours networking events meet the mission for growth, success and quality of life? How does our policy work, both locally and statewide, do this? How do our current workforce programming efforts fit into that mission?

The new mission statement, adopted Jan. 31, 2023, by the BBRC Membership reads: ” … Our mission is to be a catalyst for growth and development of our region through: collaborative policymaking, eliminating barriers, connecting leaders, promoting prosperity, and welcoming diversity.”

The new mission statement sets us on a course and has already helped us define what projects we take on and why. Yes, this mission statement can probably be nitpicked for exactly what each word means, but it clearly is much better at defining what success will look like for us. It hits on promoting the region while working with others on policy, welcoming new people and ideas to our region, connecting our businesses to each other, and eliminating obstacles to development and growth across our communities.

It’s not perfect, but it’s better. Yet it wouldn’t have even been in existence if we just did the bare minimum. One final note: We could have accepted these changes at any regular board meeting; it would’ve been quicker and easier. Yet I want to be known as the guy who made these changes with the utmost transparency, so we had members vote on it after a three-week review period. That’s doing things the right way.

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

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