LEWISTON – One will get a nod for investing in the community, the other for acting as a model for doing business right – even under fire.

The Maine State Chamber 2008 meeting and awards dinner Tuesday evening at the Ramada is set to honor two local companies: Norway Savings Bank, with one of four Maine Investor Awards, and Poland Spring Water Co., with one of two President’s Recognition Awards.

“There are a dozen or two dozen companies that come forward as candidates each year,” said chamber board Chairman Jim Atwell. “There are a lot of nice business stories (in Maine.)”

In receiving its award, Atwell pointed to Norway Savings’ contributions to growth.

“They’re continuing to show confidence in Maine and the Maine economy,” he said.

The bank has recently opened branches in Standish and Gorham, is getting ready to open one in Yarmouth and is in the planning stages of a branch outside the Auburn Mall. In June, it also opened an 11,000-square foot operations center in Norway.

“I think it’s really exciting,” President and CEO Bob Harmon said. The recognition “is great. The employees get to see that, the customers get to see that.”

Norway Savings has 21 branches and 261 employees.

The President’s Recognition Award goes to companies that promote the chamber’s mission and have an extraordinary commitment to state economic development and jobs, Atwell said.

Poland Spring has created jobs and treated the environment well, he said. “From the business community standpoint, we just think they’re a model of doing things correctly.

“We think that they’re doing a good job and doing it responsibly. We think they’re an asset we should celebrate instead of beat down.”

Bill Maples, northeast supply chain director for Nestle Waters, Poland Spring’s parent company, oversees bottling operations in Maine. He said employees at its newest facility in Kingfield are going through training now, ready to make their first case of water for market the first week of December. Thirty have been hired so far, with 30 more planned when the operation picks up.

Statewide, Poland Spring employs nearly 800 people with a payroll of $45 million. The company has faced opposition to its expansion plans in several towns.

“We’re just so pleased in light of all the negative press lately,” Maples said. “We know we’re good for the state and we’re good for the employees of the state.”


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