BAR HARBOR — To follow COVID-19 safety protocols, the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce prerecorded its annual meeting, which was broadcast on Nov. 8. At the meeting, the nonprofit announced newly elected board members, reflected on the latest tourism season, awarded businesses for their 2021 achievements and provided updates on the Chamber’s future plans.
Four newly elected and reelected board members announced were Bo Jennings, Lauren Tucker, Stephanie Clement and John Bench. Tucker, Clement and Bench have each been on the board and were reelected. Jennings will start his term this month.
The event, hosted by Executive Director Alf Anderson, with the help of board President Nina St. Germain, included an overview of the Chamber’s accomplishments during the last tourism season.
Since the first of the year, the Chamber’s Director of Visitor Services and Membership Retention Melanie Graten has answered more than 6,000 phone calls. During this past year, staff members greeted over 53,000 guests who were given local business referrals. “We spruced up our visitors center this year to provide a more pleasant experience for our visitors,” said Anderson. Through the end of October, the Chamber’s website has received 425,000 views, a 52 percent increase over the same time frame in 2020.
“All the visitors came to this amazing piece of the earth by car. We saw incredible visitation and this was lucky because it put a lot of our real financial worries to rest, and the financial hurt that so many experienced began to lift,” said St. Germain.
Businesses lost employees and the workers who stayed worked more. “Some worked more than they ever have and many of us shed a few tears than we had before, but we got really flexible, the park initiated the reservation system on the mountain and it created a really intimate experience for visitors,” St. Germain said.
The two also announced the Chamber’s 2021 award winners. Acadian Boat Tours won the 2021 Business of the Year, Salt & Steel won the 2021 Rising Star Award, Edwards Brothers Supermarkets won the 2021 Business of the Year award, Bar Harbor Town Manager Cornell Knight won the 2021 Presidents Award and Matt Horton won the 2021 Cadillac Award for epitomizing virtues of leadership, service, sacrifice and the quest for personal excellence.
In 2022, the members of the board of directors will update the chamber’s strategic plan, assist staff members in the launch of a new mobile app and help the organization conquer a number of challenges, including the need for more workers.
“This coming year, I predict that it will be another stellar visitation year but this time we will have more tools,” said St. Germain. The town will have more water stops, the Island Explorer will be running and cruise ships will be back. The Chamber will join in the creation of the Bar Harbor comprehensive plan, which will include housing solutions for employees and residents as well as hiring solutions. St. Germain said she is looking forward to what 2022 has in store for the Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber members and the MDI community were thanked for supporting the Chamber throughout the pandemic.
“COVID-19 wreaked havoc with our usual events. We were limited to holding just two Business After Hours events this spring, and the fall’s Acadia Night Sky Festival went very different than past years. We were able to offer some of our customary July 4th activities, and it was a welcome return to some sense of normalcy on such an important occasion for our island towns,” Anderson said.
To view the Chamber of Commerce’s 2021 annual meeting, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=hm80eGK8neE&t=510s&ab_channel=VisitBarHarbor.
Chamber board members
President: Nina St. Germain – Bar Harbor Publications and Jack Russel’s Steak House
Second vice president: John Bench – Cool as a Moose
Secretary: Stephanie Clement – Friends of Acadia
First vice president: Steve Coston – Coston McIssac and Shea Investment Advisors
Treasurer: Brenda Fernald – First National Bank
James Allen – Lulu Lobster Boat Ride
Todd Graham – Acadia Corporation
Bo Jennings – Side Street Cafe
Bethany Reece – Acadia Inn
Eben Salvatore – Ocean Properties
Heather Soroki – The Thirsty Whale
Lauren Tucker – Acadia Bike Rentals