BAR HARBOR — The results of a recent survey of Bar Harbor businesses about the challenges they face won’t surprise anyone, Alf Anderson, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce told the group gathered for the chamber’s annual dinner Monday.
Businesses identified staffing and housing as far and away the biggest concerns. Maine needs more workers, and they need places to live.
He and Steve Hewins, president of the lodging and restaurant advocacy group Hospitality Maine, both noted that positive tourism experiences can help draw people to come live and work here.
“Bar Harbor is ground zero for the issues facing the hospitality industry in the state,” Hewins said. He said traditional lodging businesses and local governments are still struggling to respond to the growth of Airbnb, HomeAway and other online vacation rental businesses. These companies are “by far the largest booker of overnight rooms” worldwide, he said, with 4.9 million units listed. He compared that number with the 1.3 million rooms controlled by the world’s biggest hotel group, Marriott International.
First National Bank President and CEO Tony McKim was this year’s recipient of the chamber’s Cadillac Award, given to “a person who epitomizes the virtues of leadership, service, and sacrifice and the quest for personal excellence.”
McKim has long been a coach, leader and supporter of school and community sports activities. He helped found Acadian Youth Sports, which now offers football, baseball, softball, basketball, cheering and golf programs.
In a tribute video produced by Jeff Dobbs, colleagues said McKim’s coaching approach is also an asset at the bank, encouraging employees and helping build strong teams.
The Business of the Year award, recognizing excellence in operations and performance, was presented to the Bar Harbor Catering Company. Owner and CEO Mandy Fountaine
“[Owner and CEO] Mandy [Fountaine] leads her business with heart,” Bethany Reece, president of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said in a statement. “The dedication, creativity, and next-level customer service that BHCC delivers to all their clients is the kind of leadership that makes members of this business community continue to stand out across the state.”
BHCC celebrated 10 years this summer and launched an on-site eatery and tasting room called Whim Kitchen, a new website and extended services in the community.
The Inn on Mount Desert Street was the recipient of the Rising Star Award.
A Climate to Thrive received the Environmental Leader Award for its ongoing work on solar power for businesses, schools and local governments; reducing waste, especially in restaurants and other businesses; and promoting electric vehicles.
Northeast Harbor cafe and catering company Milk and Honey was named Neighbor Business of the Year. Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue received the President’s Award from chamber board chair Bethany Reece.
The Bar Harbor Historical Society was given the Acadia Arts Achievement Award for its recent Designer Showhouse at La Rochelle, the West Street estate that is the society’s new headquarters, and its plans to preserve and open the historic mansion to the public as a museum.
The annual dinner was presented by Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and sponsored by The First and Machias Savings Bank.