I received a handful of rave notes from loyal readers about last week’s column, “Why We Need Your Support,” referring to the value of chamber membership. I can’t tell you how invigorating it is when someone reaches out to say they enjoyed an article I’ve written. It’s been my whole week.
This week, I want to dive into our bedroom programs, for two reasons. First, I want you to have a full idea of all the ways our member companies can engage with the chamber. Second, very few of our events are members-only, as our philosophy is, “What better way can we show you the value of chamber membership than by showing you a part of it?”
Let’s start with some of the networking programs we’re best known for, the most visible being Chamber After Hours. Think of Chamber After Hours as a monthly open house at a different member company, and we invite all members to attend. For the host, it’s also the perfect time to invite your favorite customers over for a drink at your place and celebrate your business. For business leaders looking to grow their network, these events regularly attract 50-85 or more attendees. Our next Chamber After Hours will be Thursday, April 14 from 5-7 p.m. at Darling’s Brunswick Ford.
There is no charge to attend any of our networking events, including Chamber After Hours. The only requirement to participate is to have a business card for the door prize draw (which also lets us know that you are a local business person). If you are a non-member or a new member, you also have the opportunity to introduce yourself to everyone during the announcements, which take place halfway through the event.
Another popular networking event is our 12 @ 12, which is our free networking lunch series where 12 business leaders break bread for 90 minutes at noon, so 12 to 12. It’s pretty simple. Everyone has five minutes to talk about their business while we have lunch together. Honestly, how much better do you feel you know someone after sharing a meal with them? Our next [email protected] won’t be until May as we transition from online to in-person, but we should know the date and location soon.
Only Chamber members can host Chamber After Hours and 12 @ 12, but again any business leader can attend. There is an accommodation fee for Chamber After Hours, but the 12 @ 12 accommodation fee is only to provide lunch for the other 11 participants and yourself. Chamber After Hours is looking for hosts from July to December (although September is booked), while we are in the process of booking hosts for all 12 @ 12 from May to December.
Finally, our newest networking event is our Hikes, which Chamber Coordinator Claire Papell hosts twice a month on Friday afternoons. Up to a dozen people are invited to join Claire at the start of one of the many trails in the area to stroll while keeping up to date with chamber news and business updates. Walk the Trail registrations, 12 @ 12 registrations, and Chamber after-hours reminders (and RSVPs) can be found in the Chamber’s weekly Friday e-newsletter (which anyone can register) or on our website.
Our chamber also offers several other programs, including WILL Power (our women’s group) events, ribbon cuttings, member business surveys, Meet the Candidate events, online community events calendar, Midcoast Edge events (our group of young professionals), the Eat Play Stay chamber guide, Members Helping Members (our workshop series), Chamber Presents… (our speaker series) and more. But I want to focus the rest of this column on our most recent, and perhaps most essential new program, Chamber Works 2030.
Chamber Works 2030, is the Bath Brunswick Regional Chamber’s decades-long commitment to innovative and tangible workforce programs to better connect schools, businesses and municipalities. This cross-community collaboration was set up by three dozen business leaders who helped our team select six new workforce programs to work on in 2022 from a list of nearly 30 potential programs.
We announced the programs at our March 11th Chamber Awards night and we are forming the work teams to finalize the program details or develop the work plans for that specific workforce team. Be aware that two of the programs are 80-90% conceptualized, while the other four will take a little longer to develop, but all should show tangible results in 2022.
The first two programs focus on career paths and connecting potential employees with careers available in our region. The first program is Guidance Counselor Bus Tours, which, in theory, invites representatives from local school districts and Area 10 to board buses and get special tours from local businesses. At the company, attendees will be able to see the facilities and find out what careers are available and what the training requirements are for different positions.
The second program consists of one-minute job posting videos. Concretely, what do you need to know to apply for a job? And if candidates don’t log on to Indeed.com, or the Maine Job Link online, or check the logs. How do they know your work? Conversely, people watch 60-second videos on social media every day. So let’s line up 30 videos from 30 companies on one channel and encourage potential employees to sit down and get offered job offers.
Our other four Chamber Works 2030 programs require a much more in-depth explanation, and I’ll follow up on those details in next week’s column. However, I hope you have learned a bit more about what we are doing for this region through our chamber work. All of these programs are funded by corporate memberships and program sponsorships, which means we couldn’t do this without the support of many of you – and for that, our team is extremely grateful. Thank you.
Cory King is the Executive Director of the Regional Chamber of Bath-Brunswick.