Franklin County Chamber appoints new interim director
FARMINGTON - The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce recently appointed a familiar face as the new interim director of the organization in the midst of the organization's resurgent efforts.
Marc Relford has been hired as the new full-time interim director of the Chamber. Relford, a 2012 University of Maine at Farmington graduate with a bachelor's degree in business economics, served as an intern then as the Chamber's assistant director with former executive director Stacie Bourassa before taking time off to complete his degree this spring.
Earlier this year, Bourassa resigned after 10 months on the job and the majority of Chamber's board of directors voted in March to dissolve the Chamber. Those who voted for the disbandment cited a dramatic decline in membership, the recent resignation of Bourassa and an increase in operational costs over the last year. In 2009, there were a total of 265 members, but that number dwindled down over the next few years to 178 members, with a loss of 64 members in the last year alone.
At a meeting on April 4, a 54-to-15 majority of the Chamber members voted to keep the nonprofit going. By meeting's end, 20 members not on the board signed up to help reconstruct the Chamber and plan for its new future.
Relford said he plans to continue the revitalization efforts of the Chamber.
"I'm excited," he said today. "Under the new leadership there's a lot more energy to keep moving forward. There's a feeling we can pull out of this." He intends to offer more resources for business growth to Chamber members which includes networking with other Chambers.
More ideas include a partnership with Skye Theatre in South Carthage in which Chamber member businesses will be featured each week at the theater starting June 20. Ticket purchasing opportunities will be offered at the featured business in the weeks' prior to each Wednesday's event. The business of the week will also be featured on the Skye Theatre website. In turn, the business of the week will be setting up in Skye’s lobby at a selected show and offering Skye patrons a 30-day discount voucher on selected goods and services.
The collaborative idea sprang up at a recent Chamber-sponsored Business After Hours session held at SugarWood Gallery in Farmington. Skye Theatre's director, Phill McIntyre approached the gallery's co-owner Dan Maxham and started talking about ways they could work together, McIntyre said.
By offering surrounding area Chambers this same opportunity, the hope is to make customers aware of regional member’s goods and services while also enjoying world class performances. It also is the first step in collaboration between Chambers throughout the area, McIntyre said.
“Our members are what keeps us open, it’s their ideas, their time, and their efforts that drive the Chamber. We have many plans in the works to bring our members the value they deserve from membership. This is the first step to realigning ourselves with our member’s needs and providing them with real support and real results,” Relford said.
For more information on how to get involved, contact either McIntyre at 562-4445 or Relford at 778-4215.
Or, members and those interested in finding out more, can attend the Chamber's next board meeting 7 a.m. Tuesday, June 19 in the Bass Room at Franklin Memorial Hospital. On the agenda is a meeting with the Healthy Community Coalition in which awards will be presented.