Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce is the recipient of a substantial grant as part of Kennebec Savings Bank creation of the KSB Chamber Appreciation Campaign to provide relief funds to each of the local chambers within its service area, according to a news release from the Waterville-based Chamber.

The bank included an explanation for the establishment of the campaign on social media, “Our local Chambers of Commerce are working harder than ever on behalf of their members, despite facing their own set of challenges in the wake of COVID-19. Despite many obstacles, our local chambers continue to host virtual seminars and networking opportunities, keep us informed of legislative happenings, promote member businesses, and more to support our local economy. The Facebook post continued, “To show our support for the important work they do, we have created the KSB Chamber Appreciation Campaign to provide relief funds to each of the local chambers within our service area. We encourage our community partners to join with us and support your local Chamber. Donations to chambers, whether it is your time or your money, support our business community as a whole. If we all lean in and work together, we’ll get through this!”

Kennebec Savings Bank President & CEO Andrew Silsby said of the awarding of the grant, “We are so appreciative of the local Chambers of Commerce for the work that they are doing to help our small business community, in their time of greatest need. Our Chambers have pivoted all their traditional activities for businesses, becoming a vital, virtual connector to much-needed resources that businesses need right now. We think it is especially important to appreciate the local Chambers for all that they are contributing, at a time when their own resources are under a great deal of pressure. I, personally, hope businesses that can will join their Chamber, pay their membership early, or just send a donation along as a sign of our collective appreciation for all that they are providing to help our business community.”

Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Kimberly Lindlof acknowledges that the generous grant was completely unexpected and much appreciated. She says the funds come at a critical time as the Chamber was not eligible for federal or state funds (PPP) to assist with payroll. All staff were retained while working remotely, and upon the return to the office so that business needs could be addressed. While working remotely, the Chamber introduced a Takeout Challenge to promote the restaurants offering takeout and curbside deliveries and a Waterville Works downtown promotion to assist businesses impacted by both the pandemic and the ongoing construction. A bingo promotion for June, July and August, supplemented by a July Summer Savings coupon campaign were implemented to build foot traffic and make residents aware that downtown is still “open for business”.

Following several postponements, a business breakfast series event “Back to Business: A Roadmap for Attracting and Retaining Employees” was held on June 11 at Waterville Country Club. Following CDC guidelines, this successful breakfast attracted nearly 40 local businesspeople.

Currently, Chamber staff are busy assisting with exchanges of Joseph Fireside Steakhouse gift cards for Chamber gift certificates good at member restaurants. Owners Kevin Joseph and EJ Fabian requested the Chamber’s help to assure that the funds stayed in the area. To date, nearly $12,000 in gift certificates have been issued. Additionally, sales of regular Chamber gift certificates have topped $90,000 since January 2020.

The Chamber continues to move forward with other events, including another breakfast in July regarding topics in employment law with Erik Peters, and the popular Chamber Golf Classic rescheduled to Aug. 18 at the Waterville Country Club. Additional sponsors are still needed for this event, given the delay because of the pandemic. To participate, contact [email protected].

Lindlof added, “During my 26 years of involvement with the Mid-Maine Chamber I have never seen this impressive level of cohesion within the community. The Chamber team continues to pull together to offer support to our members. We are heartened and encouraged by the response from the business and nonprofit community, and by this show of appreciation from Kennebec Savings Bank for the work we do every day.”

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