Scott Lavertu of Carrabassett Valley took on his role as executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only was it a challenging time for the chamber’s many business members, but a challenging time for the chamber itself, which annually holds a number of events and fundraisers that were all impacted by state COVID-19 restrictions.

Scott Lavertu, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce executive director Jamie Walter photo

In the year he’s been working in his new position, Lavertu says he’s not only learned a lot about state pandemic guidelines, but he’s been able to use his experience to help area business owners during a difficult time and to set the foundation for more success for Franklin County and its businesses.

When did you become the executive director? I grew up in the St. John Valley, where generations of my family have been raised working in farming and paper. I wrapped up at the University of Southern Maine in 1994 and moved to Boston for a job opportunity, where I spent 19 years in professional recruitment, sales, and operations. I have family in Carrabassett Valley, and have been skiing Sugarloaf for years. The opportunity to join the sales team at Sugarloaf presented itself in 2012, and I moved back to Maine in November of that year. Living in the valley gives me access to bike trails, day hikes, and swimming holes; and alpine/nordic skiing are in my wheelhouse. I became the executive director (of the chamber) in August 2020.

How did you get interested in becoming the executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce? Before transitioning to the position, I actually served on the board for two years representing Sugarloaf. I was on the sales team at Sugarloaf for eight years. The past year posed an interesting time frame as everyone was trying to navigate a pandemic, adjust business models. As new federal and state programs were becoming available, the chamber was a great spot to access those programs and share the information with our members.

What skills do you have that transferred into moving the county and its businesses forward? I’ve got a sales background having spent the majority of my professional career in Boston. . . . I’m self-motivated, and enjoy the entrepreneurial nature of businesses, and getting to know business owners. Franklin County is unique in that our business members represent the full gamut of business types.

Do you have ideas to promote economic development? Franklin County is in the fortunate position of being able to draw on four seasons of tourism. Lakes, mountains, camping, biking, hiking, boating, fishing, an ATV network, world-class skiing, snowmobiling, and a thriving artist community throughout the county. Continuing to promote those activities, and collaborating within the business community, should continue to be at the forefront of the conversation as we continue to navigate guidelines suggested at the state level.

What do you like most about leading the chamber? I joined at an interesting time. My experience at Sugarloaf in hosting conferences, weddings, and events had me pretty well connected in the business community. Also having served on the chamber board for two years allowed a familiarity in taking on a leadership role. It was also helpful to know the other board members and get on a similar track in leading the chamber through a pandemic. It’s been a great opportunity to continue to embed myself within the business community.

Is it difficult to organize events? Definitely the most challenging part of the year is events. When I first started, the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development was hosting their monthly series for updated guidelines with checklists, and limits in hosting events. There were limitations in what could actually be done with crowd size, distancing, etc. It’s an ongoing conversation in being mindful of people’s comfort level and what the attendance would look like as we talk about planning future events.

Have you ever had an idea to promote the county that you implemented and are especially proud of? It’s been an interesting year. We’ve had success with the Seth Wescott/Franklin County Chamber Scholarship Golf Classic in September; last year we were limited to 100 guests outside and sold out the event in four days; this year we had 31 teams registered. Also continuing to promote our smaller businesses, farmers markets, and year-round area activities is ongoing. Hopefully setting up the foundation for continued success post pandemic

Comments are no longer available on this story