To the Editor:
Tourism has been and will continue to be the lifeblood of Bar Harbor and Mount Desert Island’s economy, but we now face the daunting challenge of protecting community health. Thank you to everyone who has stayed home during this crisis, and most especially to our emergency service providers and front-line workers of essential businesses who have continued to serve all of us.
The small but mighty staff of three at the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce – Melanie Graten, Chris Graten, and myself – have been working overtime from home to support Bar Harbor’s business community in these fast-moving times. We’ve shared information about economic relief programs available to small businesses, initiated contingency plans for events in Bar Harbor, and shared the inspirational beauty of Acadia and Bar Harbor via social media to connect visitors to our region when they can’t be here in person. Our goal is for everyone to remain healthy and to ensure that our members and the Chamber itself survive these difficult times.
As the economy gradually re-opens and visitors return to Mount Desert Island, we need to find ways to ensure that residents and visitors are safe. The chamber board of directors and staff members have been meeting weekly to brainstorm ideas for adapting to this “new normal.” We’re thinking about ways we can help restaurants shift to a takeout-only model if needed. We’re talking to retail store owners about how they can safely greet and serve customers even if they are limited on the numbers that can be allowed inside. And, we will be working with the town on ideas for events and public facilities.
To that end, we are hopeful that the Town Council will form a COVID-19 task force made up of representatives from the community, town staff, healthcare experts and the business community. This task force could be the driving force in balancing public safety with the thoughtful restoration of our economy.
It is an honor to serve our hard-working, dedicated business community, and I thank chamber members for their continued support. This unprecedented era has affected all of us, and I look forward to working with all of you to plan for the future of our community. Stay safe, be well, and share your thoughts and stories with us. We’re in this together.
Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce