Nichols taking helm at chamber

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FARMINGTON – New Sharon resident Lorna Nichols plans to start work as executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce today after being hired for the position weeks ago.

“I think I’ll be wearing a lot of different hats,” Nichols said Wednesday of her new position as the chamber’s only full-time staff member.

Chamber President Kent Wiles said Nichols was hired for her wealth of experience in customer service, Web design and general technical ability, as well as for her ideas.

“She comes to us with a lot of customer service background. She is very computer literate, which is great because we’re getting ready to unveil,” a new Web site, Wiles said.

He added the chamber plans on “expanding the area we serve and trying to encompass most of Franklin County,” Jay to Stratton, and members think Nichols is the person to help them do that.

“The Chamber is really looking forward to Lorna coming on board,” he said.

As for Nichols, her initial goal “is to get out into the communities that we serve and meet and greet” chamber members, both to get to know them and to “talk with them about the concerns they have.”

She said she’s “really looking for a lot of feedback,” about ways the chamber can improve its services “to kind of get us on track, so that we become the go-to place when people need information or when businesses need resources or help in some way.”

After years of working at Franklin Savings Bank, Western Mountains Financial Services, and the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, scores of area people already recognize her. Soon, even more will know her as the new face of the chamber.

One of her hopes is to work with area businesses to help involve young people in the Franklin County economy “so they don’t leave the area” after graduating high school or college. “We have a lot of talented young people, and they feel there aren’t enough opportunities for them to stay and have a career, start a business, raise a family,” she said. One idea is to start a mentoring program between chamber members and students. Another is to start a forum for area women to “discuss ideas and offer help and assistance to grow personally and in the business community.”

Nichols said she can’t wait to get started working for the chamber. “I’m somebody who doesn’t take no for an answer,” she said. “And I have had so much support from coworkers about the new positions – (including) my bank managers,” she said. She added there are many “people who haven’t seen my face just yet, but they will.”

“And not only will I want to talk with them about their ideas, but also seek their help when it’s time to get some of these things up and running. I think it can really be a great effort, and I think they’re going to see a big difference. Within six months to a year, we’ll be really proud of the chamber and what we’re doing.”

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