A message from the president... “Leadership Summit celebrates 21 years of building relationships and increasing understanding...”
by Dana Connors
Last week, we hosted our 21st annual Leadership Summit, and despite some icy winter weather, it didn’t disappoint! You can read all about it starting on page 1 of the February 13 edition. Each year, once the dust settles a bit, I take some time to reflect on this event. And each year, I’m grateful for the willingness of legislators and business leaders to come together for frank, open dialog to the public policy issues facing our state.
Since 2000, we have invited business leaders and Statehouse leaders to our annual Leadership Summit to begin and encourage ongoing conversations beyond the event. Hosting the Leadership Summit at Sunday River means that for more than 24 hours we are not going anywhere, and more significantly, it affords us the opportunity to focus on the reasons we are there – collaboration, education, information, and understanding.
The diverse group of attendees includes business owners and leaders from Portland to MDI to Madawaska, legislative leadership and key committee members, the chancellors and presidents from educational institutions, economic development leaders, and representatives from local/regional chambers of commerce.
Our primary intent is plain and simple – to build communication and encourage conversations. This year, we used the three goals within the state’s Strategic Economic Plan as the basis for our discussions, pulling from the themes of Innovation, Talent, and Critical Supports needed to meet those goals. The conversations were open, informative, and sometimes lively, as the business community shared their thoughts, insights and concerns with our representatives from both sides of the aisle who represent both large and small communities in Maine. This led to an understanding of the challenges faced by businesses and the challenges faced by those who represent us in Augusta.
As we move through this session, let us remember that there will often be differing opinions on some of these topics, agreement on others, and more questions than answers on others. But by the end of our Summit, we hope that increased understanding has begun. Understanding the impact of legislation is the first step to finding the answers, and that is why these conversations are so vital.
On behalf of the board and staff of the Maine State Chamber, I’d also like to thank the 125 attendees and our generous sponsors of this very unique event – one envied by my peers across the nation. Without their willing participation and support, we would not have the opportunity to build statewide collaboration and understanding for the many issues affecting our employers, their employees, and their communities. We look forward to working together throughout the session, to continuing the conversations we began at the 21st Leadership Summit, and to providing a higher quality of life, place and people for this great state.