AUGUSTA — The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce closed on the purchase of a Western Avenue building Friday that the head of the organization said will serve as a more visible headquarters for the regional business group.

The building at 269 Western Ave. is at least three times larger than the organization’s current location on University Drive, near the Augusta Civic Center, said Ross Cunningham, president and CEO of the group. The new building is also on a much busier street, providing more public exposure to the membership organization, he said.

“I think one of the things we find with us is some people don’t even know we exist,” Cunningham said.

The added public exposure will allow the group to increase community programming and become a space for people to find information on local businesses, he said.

Cunningham and about 10 staff and board members celebrated the purchase of the building with a champagne toast Friday afternoon after Cunningham unveiled a banner declaring the building as the future home of the organization.

Kim Vandermeulen, chairman of the chamber’s executive committee and CEO of Alternative Manufacturing, Inc. in Winthrop, said the current chamber building is far too small for the organization.

The office on Community Drive has only an eight-person conference room, so the group’s board is unable to meet there. The new building, which the organization expects to move to in December, will be able to accommodate such meetings in its conference room, Cunningham said.

He said he’s invited the Capital Area Technical Center to have some of its area high school students work, with supervision, on eventually developing the building’s garage into potentially a two-floor office and conference room space.

The new building was formerly occupied by the cellphone company Unicel, which was acquired by Verizon in 2008.

Before the organization moves into the space later this year, renovations need be done to prepare the building, including adding separate offices, Cunningham said. The current building, also owned by the chamber, will be put on the market shortly, he said. Cunningham declined to give the purchase price of the Western Avenue building.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig

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