Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors in his office in Augusta on Monday. He is retiring at the end of the year after nearly three decades leading the organization. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, will retire at the end of the year after nearly three decades at the pro-business organization’s helm.

Connors, 78, said in a statement Monday that his time with the chamber has been a “tremendous honor and pleasure,” and that the decision to retire was a difficult one.

He still loves his work, loves “the chase,” he said in an interview. His health is good, his energy levels are still high.

But after nearly 30 years, it’s time for a leadership change at the chamber, he said.

“There comes a time when you have to do things a different way,” Connors said, calling it “an act of conscience.”

As hard as it is, I realize it’s the right thing,” he said. 


Maine’s largest business association, the chamber says it has a network of more than 5,000 members. The chamber focuses its efforts on advocacy, access and awareness. In his role as president, Connors is responsible for overseeing a range of advocacy and economic development initiatives on behalf of Maine’s business community.

Connors’ 2020 salary was $196,000 plus benefits and other compensation valued at an additional $25,500, according to tax forms. He has been in his current role since 1994.

In that time, Connors has helped create Maine & Co., a state entity for attracting businesses to Maine; the Making Maine Work series, which encourages economic growth and investment in the state, and the Chamber’s Education Foundation.

More recently, Connors served on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee to help develop policy recommendations to stabilize Maine’s economy and carve a path forward as the state and business community weather the coronavirus pandemic.

Maine’s business landscape continues to evolve. Connors said he is particularly excited by the transition to a more tech-driven economy. 

Innovation, research and development are increasingly important. This is encouraging, he said, as it opens a number of growth opportunities for Maine companies. 


It also underscores the need for more broadband internet access, which has become even more apparent with the prevalence of remote work during the coronavirus pandemic, he said.

Connors stressed the importance of keeping Gov. Janet Mills’ 10-year economic development strategy front and center. Issues such as childcare, immigration and housing will be crucial in tackling Maine’s ongoing workforce challenges, he said.

Mills said that Connors’ vision, knowledge, wit and commitment to the state’s economy have earned him the respect of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“His advocacy on behalf of Maine’s business community, and his previous service in state and local government, has played a vital role in making our economy stronger,” Mills said in a statement.

Curtis Picard, president and CEO of the Retail Association of Maine, said Connors will leave behind big shoes to fill.

“Without question, his service to the state and the chamber throughout his career is second to none,” Picard said. “He is so well-respected in the business world and by policymakers.”


They served together on the Economic Recovery Committee, and Picard said Connors’ leadership abilities and desire to help Maine both in the short and long term were evident.

“He’s a great partner to work with – he has great political and common sense about issues and what’s really in the best interest of Maine,” Picard said.

Greg Dugal, director of government affairs for HospitalityMaine, called Connors an “incredibly steadfast leader” and a “true friend” to the hospitality industry. 


“He’s always up to the task, always collaborative,” Dugal said. “He was always willing to have the discussion, but not always willing to compromise. But you don’t always compromise.”

Connors worked successfully to fight off the introduction of local option sales taxes for years, Dugal said.


Local option sales taxes are a way for municipalities to generate revenue by increasing the tax on certain goods or services, but opponents say their implementation pits towns against each other and hurts small businesses.

“I consider him to be a tremendous friend to our industry because of his willingness to help us,” Dugal said.

Clif Greim, chair of the chamber’s board of directors, thanked Connors for his “positive impact on this state and our collective interests.”

Connors has worked tirelessly to advance the state’s economic future and has been a valuable resource for legislators and administrators, Greim said in a statement.

Prior to his time at the chamber, Connors served as the city manager of Presque Isle and later as commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation.

The chamber said it will launch a search for Connors’ successor.

Comments are no longer available on this story