Last week, we hosted our 23rd annual Leadership Summit (see page 1), and despite dicey winter weather and a long, slow ride home, this year’s Summit delivered yet again! Each year, we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the willingness of legislators, administrators, and business leaders to come together for frank, open dialogue about the public policy issues facing our state. This year, we were thankful to return to our traditional in-person event.
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 leaders from York to Madawaska, legislative leaders and key committee members, economic development leaders, and representatives from local/regional chambers of commerce. The experience each brings to the conversation, rooted in their professions, geography, and demographic, adds to the collective perspective of these important conversations.
Our primary intent is plain and simple: To build communication and encourage conversations. This year, we structured our discussion around three themes that have influenced Maine’s economy in the past 26 months: the State’s Strategic Plan; Issues related to the pandemic; and, issues related to the 130th Legislative Session. 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, we hope the foundational discussions of the Leadership Summit leads to an increased understanding of the challenges faced by businesses and the challenges faced by those who represent us in Augusta. After all, challenges are also opportunities!
Let us also remember that there will often be differing opinions on many public policy topics in the coming months, maybe agreement on some, and likely, more questions than answers on others. 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 attendees and generous sponsors of this very unique event – one envied by my peers across the nation. Without willing participation and support from all the stakeholders, 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 this year’s Leadership Summit, and to providing a pathway through the pandemic recovery for our great state.