The Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce is a one-stop shop for help maneuvering through challenging economic conditions, for growing your business and operating as efficiently as possible. Chamber President Chip Morrison said, “our slogan is, ‘We succeed when [our] members succeed.’ That’s never been more relevant than it is right now.”

With a membership base of over 1,300 organizations which include more than 45,000 employees, the Androscoggin Chamber can effectively access all the resources that any individual member might find useful. Anchored by a long-standing series of monthly breakfast meetings that routinely attract capacity crowds of over 250, regular Business After Hours networking events hosted by member organizations, the Chamber’s programming also includes a popular series of workshops, lectures and brown-bag luncheon discussion groups. Many of these events are free or available to members at reduced costs.

There are four basic services that the Chamber provides for its members: connections, advocacy, promotion of the region’s image, and education promotion. The Chamber is an invaluable resource for businesses and consumers alike, by providing a wealth of information on products and services available as well as recreational activities.

Chamber services are delivered by five standing committees, including Member Services, Business Advocacy, Education-Business Partnerships, Regional Image Development, and YPLAA (Young Professionals of the Lewiston-Auburn Area). The overarching goal of Member Services includes the commitment to “…respond to the information, business and professional development needs of the membership,” which the Chamber does by facilitating networking among members, the programming series, and frequent, meaningful communication via newsletter, Small Business e-News, Cool Communities e-News and bi-weekly e-events notifications, along with a steady stream of more focused notices dealing with specific issues.

Business Advocacy is focused on the goal to “obtain greater commitment from elected representatives to address the needs of the business community [with] … policies that foster business growth and regional economic development.” Members of the Androscoggin Chamber journey annually to Augusta for Business Day at the statehouse. The Chamber monitors all issues which might impact business in general and in Androscoggin County in particular, and helps members understand and engage with those issues.

The Education-Business Partnership effort is intended to get business people more engaged with education, to get them into classrooms and into dialogs with students at every level. Junior Achievement, a variety of scholarship efforts, job and career fairs, as well as strong support for the College for ME initiative are all ways in which the Chamber works toward the goals of improving the numbers of local people who pursue post-secondary education.

Regional Image Development includes work toward the goal to “Promote the human resource, cultural, business, educational and environmental assets [of the area].” Lately, this has included a renewed emphasis on increasing tourism interest, by promoting the area’s arts, museums, festivals, lodging, dining, recreation and entertainment opportunities.

YPLAA is a semi-autonomous division of the Chamber, working to “network and engage members to promote career, social and community development.” It is, said Chip, a program designed to nurture the emerging generation of business and community leaders.

While the resources of the Chamber are vital to business success in this community at any time, the impact of those resources may be more dramatic and immediate in these tough times. And it’s always reassuring to be part of a sizable community all working toward common objectives that, in turn, contribute to the growth and prosperity of all.

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