May 15, 2020

Saluting those who make it look easy: Sebago Lakes Region Chamber News

By Zack Conley, Board President

During difficult times it can be easy to overlook the hard work of those who make it look easy and flawless. Therefore, on behalf of the Board of Directors for the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, I would like to publicly recognize the tireless efforts of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber staff, Robin Mullins (Executive Director) and Denise Dyer (Office Manager), during this extremely challenging time.

Sebago Lakes Region Chamber Director
Robin Mullins and Board President Zack Conley
along with the board of directors
collaborate with businesses and the town to
support economic stability during these uncertain times. 
Countless hours have been spent on Zoom meetings with the Maine Department of Economic Community Development, the Department of Labor, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, and the Maine State Chamber to gather information (that seems to change by the hour) on unemployment insurance, available loan programs, such as the PPP and EIDL, the CARES Act, essential vs. non-essential businesses, and re-opening plans and checklists. This information is then packaged in easy to read and useful newsletters that are sent as needed to all Chamber members, posted on the Chamber website, and shared via Facebook for non-members and the public.

An entire day was spent, with the help of board Directors, calling all three hundred Chamber businesses to check in and see how they were doing and how the Chamber could assist them, a Zoom meeting with the leaders of the ten towns the Chamber serves (Casco, Gray, Limerick, Limington, Naples, New Gloucester, Raymond, Sebago, Standish, and Windham) was set up as a way for the towns to share information with each other and let the Chamber know how it could best support each of them, and hours have been spent answering member and non-member questions about everything from available loans and assistance to when can businesses start to reopen.

Robin and Denise have been the voice of business in the region during calls with Maine’s Congressional Delegation, they have partnered with the Windham Economic Development Corporation, Windham Parks and Recreation and local restaurants to set up a Friday Free Meal Program for Senior Citizens in Windham, oversaw a $4,500 donation to 13 local food pantries in the region from the Chamber’s Charitable Trust, have given access to the Chamber Zoom account for members, set up the support local business campaign, #slrccsupportlocal, and held a virtual job fair for eight local companies in partnership with Bonney Staffing and the Maine Career Center. They have also brought on nine new members and are making plans for three major upcoming events, a Scholarship Golf Open on August 27th, the Sebago Spirits Festival on Sep. 19, and the revival of the Sebago Lake Polar Dip, in partnership with the Sebago Lakes Rotary for 2021.

They have done all of these things (and so much more), and with less hours. Like all businesses they have been affected by COVID-19, having to close the office, work from home, do more with less, and look for ways to save money while still bringing in revenues to pay for rent, utilities, and payroll expenses. Unlike other businesses and 501(c)3 non-profits, however, the Chamber has not been eligible for the same forgivable loan programs, such as the PPP or EDIL. The Chamber is a non-profit, but its 501(c)6 status (which allows them to lobby, although they do very little of it) negates them from these loan programs. Please keep this in mind as you, “support local.” 

A huge “thank you” to Robin Mullins and Denise Dyer for their commitment to the Chamber and the businesses in the Sebago Lakes region. Their work is important and greatly appreciated. Thank you, too, to the businesses who continue to support Robin and Denise and the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce as a whole. 

Together we will prosper, One Region, Limitless Possibilities! #Chambersarelocaltoo <

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