Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber Supports Merger of Twin Cities

Following a day-long retreat on September 22nd, the board of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce voted to support the merger of Lewiston and Auburn.  “The decision to take a position followed several months of conversation at the board level,” said Beckie Conrad, Chamber president, “and took into account a survey of the membership earlier this summer about the merger that found 63% in favor of combining the cities and 15% undecided.”  She continued, “The board’s vote followed a morning of discussion reviewing the Chamber’s mission, its current initiatives and how those initiatives support the two key results we heard from our business climate survey where owners and directors of our member businesses and organizations were asked for the most important issues facing them today.  Overwhelmingly, the business climate survey showed that the barriers to an even stronger local economy are workforce development and local image and that the Chamber has a role to play in both areas.”

The retreat was designed to define the Chamber’s leadership role in the Lewiston Auburn metropolitan region and decide if member priorities and the Chamber’s mission were being met.  Given the number of members who cited a workforce deficit and fostering a more positive image as pressing needs, the merger was slated as a separate topic in the afternoon to consider how combining the two cities might have an impact on these issues.  Board Chair, Robin Robbins commented, “As part of being a leader in the community we must be innovative as well as recognizing and supporting opportunities that move our region forward.”

Prior to considering the merger, the board looked at new ways to serve and promote the Lewiston Auburn metro region by transitioning from membership to “investment” in Chamber priorities that will benefit new strategies of regional economic development and tourism, both designed to make the area a more desirable place to live, work and visit. Conrad said that the conversation was thoughtful and difficult at times and that getting to the core of the Chamber’s work to best support both the membership and the larger community brought up many questions about the role of a Chamber of Commerce. She shared research on Chambers in other communities where economic development, tourism and image campaigns were key priorities to drive change.

Following the morning presentations and discussions, the board then addressed the Chamber’s leadership role as the largest organization in the area that encompasses businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Of the more than 1050 members, 89% are from the for-profit sector, 10% from the not-for-profit sector and 1% from government. “We all agreed,” Conrad said, “that Lewiston and Auburn are one economy. Business does not stop on the bridges and in all actuality our greatest strength is that the community functions as a large regional economic engine for Central Maine.”

“Ultimately,” Conrad continued, “that was the basis for the board’s decision to support the merger.  If we function as one economy, what naturally follows?  Do we currently have a consistent, coordinated and unified long term approach to preK-16 education, workforce development, urban housing, planning, and public investment to grow our economy and encourage private investment, both local and from outside investors?  We all acknowledged that meeting those priorities is possible—as it has been for years—if we keep trying as two cities but that if we merge, a unified approach will be required. Fundamentally, I believe the board considered the issue as they would for their own business or organization. When an opportunity to be stronger is presented, the risks and rewards are weighed and a decision to move forward occurs.”

Prior to the vote, many board members spoke passionately that the merger was the right move, and in response for her to share her own opinion, Conrad said, “I’ve lived here 39 years, owned two businesses, worked in higher education and volunteered for numerous social service, arts and civic organizations tasked with joint projects. But no matter how hard each of us has worked, and no matter how committed we are to change, the fact is we have not made the progress we want on poverty, graduation rates, our image—all things that have an influence on business. So as president of the Chamber, I believe we need a catalyst beyond staying the cooperative but separate course and hoping we’ll pick up the pace. The merger is the opportunity to drive us. To engage all of the good hearts and minds on both sides of the river to work together across the next decade to realize Lewiston-Auburn’s unique attributes as Maine’s best place to live, work and play.”

Robin Robbins added, “The board recognizes that a merger of the twin cities is the first step toward a stronger future. It will require engagement from businesses, organizations, civic leaders and residents all working in unison to develop a more vibrant Central Maine economy. The LA Metro Chamber is prepared to be a leader in ensuring that one merged community will be successful.”

Membership Drive Deal!

We invite you to join the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce during our membership drive with a special deal!

Join before September 30, 2017 and get 15 months for the price of 12! You won’t be billed again until January 2019! Seize this opportunity!

Take this opportunity to grow your business with so many wonderful benefits!

  • Join a robust professional network
  • Membership listing on the LA Metro Chamber website
  • Display your business card, rack card, or brochure in our lobby
  • Receive customer and client referrals
  • Public new member recognition
  • Social media activation for your events
  • Grand openings and ribbon cuttings for your business
  • Opportunities to get involved in roundtables, committees, councils or initiatives that serve your strategic goals

New! Tourism related businesses will also get a listing on www.DiscoverLAMaine.com our new website dedicated to marketing the LA region to visitors worldwide.

Click here to become a member today!

Call for Art

The Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) invites Maine artists to submit an original two-dimensional artwork to be selected for reproduction as a limited-edition print.

The creative direction is any two-dimensional image that represents a distinctive, classic, iconic theme, landmark, environmental or structural detail, texture, tone or representation of the LA region of today and tomorrow. Past examples of local iconic images are canals, skylines and streetscapes but visions of the future are encouraged. Works can be created in any medium; photography, illustration, paint, etc. that can be reproduced at a high-quality resolution. The maximum size of the finished piece cannot exceed 24” x 18”.  Each piece should be titled.


Twenty pieces will be selected by a jury of Chamber board members, staff and local arts professionals for display at the Chamber’s 130th Fête d’anniversaire on Friday, November 3, 2017. A cash prize of $700 will be awarded to the artist whose piece is judged “Best in Show” and that image will be reproduced as 100 limited-edition prints. The original will be framed and auctioned as part of a live auction and all other submissions will be displayed for audience judging and silent auction at the 130th Fête d’anniversaire. A $300 cash prize for the “People’s Choice” award will be given at the event. Each piece should be assigned a value for sale following 50-50 gallery standards, including a minimum reserve. The Chamber will promote the names of each participating artist when marketing the 130th Fête d’anniversaire. The reverse of the limited-edition print will feature text on the artist and their work. Pieces that do not meet their reserve for sale on November 3rd will be returned to the artist following the event.


DEADLINE = September 30, 2017.  Work may be dropped off at the Chamber Office during business hours, Monday-Thursday, 8AM-5PM and Fridays 8AM-3PM. Eligibility is open to professional, practicing artists who reside in Maine. For more information contact Beckie@lametrochamber.com.


Golf Tournament – Sponsorship Opportunities!

18th Annual Chip Morrison Scholarship Scramble

A golf tournament to fund scholarships for students at Central Maine Community College and Regional High Schools.

Brought to you by: Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Central Maine Community College Foundation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Poland Spring Resort
640 Maine Street, Poland Spring

As a friend and supporter of the LA Metro Chamber and CMCC, we would like to offer you the opportunity to be a sponsor for this event. Last year over 63 local businesses joined as sponsors, in addition to a large field of participating golfers.

The event raised over $38,000 for scholarships for local students. In the last 17 years, the Scholarship Scramble has raised over $647,000 to support local students. Your sponsorship will make a difference in the lives of students and their families.

In addition to the satisfaction of helping worthy students realize their dreams of a college education, you will receive benefits outlined here.

Questions? Contact Maureen at the LA Metro Chamber at 783-2249 or Maureen@LAMetroChamber.com.

Rebecca Swanson Conrad Named President & CEO

Rebecca ConradLast Friday, February 17, our board of directors concluded a 3-month search for a new President and CEO of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.  Rebecca Swanson Conrad will begin as our new President and CEO on March 27, 2017.  The search process was extensive, generating over 50 applicants from across the country.  Our 11-person selection committee led the search process, which included three rounds of interviews, with the final being in front of the entire board, extensive testing of the applicants, and thorough reference checks. We were thrilled with the tremendous interest in the position from a group of highly qualified applicants.

Rebecca Swanson Conrad is currently the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine where she has worked since 2006. She was co-owner with her husband of Austin’s Fine Wines and Foods for 20 years, and for 3 years owned and operated Rÿsen Home Garden & Antiques, a retail gallery promoting local art and products that supported international women’s economic development. Both shops were located in downtown Auburn. Prior to Rÿsen, Conrad’s career spanned 21 years in higher education administration at Bates College, including 1999-2003 when she served as executive director of LA Excels, the college’s non-profit community development partnership in Lewiston-Auburn focused on leadership, arts, educational aspirations and economic revitalization. She served on the Maine Arts Commission for seven years, with four as vice-chair. Volunteer board roles include chair of the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council, past chair of L/A Arts and Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice, vice chair of the Maine Association of Nonprofits and as a board member of Advocates for Children, the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce and the advisory boards of USM/LA College and Central Maine Community College. Conrad received her BA in English from Bates College and studied in the New England Studies MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. She lives in Auburn with her husband Austin Conrad, Jr. and her cat, Charles Mingus.

The entire board of directors, and particularly our 11-member selection committee deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the time and effort they put into a very extensive search process.  They were ably assisted by former board chair, Art Boulay of Strategic Talent Management.

2017 Member Employee Scholarship

The purpose of the Chamber Member Employee Scholarship Program is to recognize an employee of a LA Metro Chamber member who has shown effort in advancing his or her education at the college level.

Scholarship Awards

Scholarships of $1000 each will be awarded annually. The scholarships will be awarded directly to the recipient. One award will be made per individual, although the award may be divided to apply to two semesters of college work.

  • Preference will be given to applicants who have not previously won an Adult Scholarship from the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce


Applicants will…

  • Be employed 20 or more hours by a member in good standing of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
  • Begin course(s) within 6 months of receiving award
  • Be matriculated in college-level coursework applicable toward an Associates, Bachelor’s or Master’s degree
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Be at least 18 years old

Application Requirements

  • Scholarship application
  • 250-300 word typewritten essay (see attached)
  • Completed employer verification form
  • Professional letter of reference/recommendation (more points will be given when the author is knowledgeable of the applicant’s professional work and/or collegiate work and speak to: motivation, financial need, aspirations, etc.)
  • Unofficial transcript or letter of acceptance for upcoming semester
  • Application MUST be complete to be considered!


The application and employer verification form must be received by May 5, 2017. Recipients will be notified by June 2, 2017 (Scholarship recipients will be notified by mail/e-mail.)

2017 Scholarship Application is now available! Download it here

2017 Annual Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to our 2017 Annual Award recipients!

Tickets are available to purchase for our 2017 Annual Meeting, Thursday, January 26, 2017 at the Ramada Inn, Lewiston.

Ray Geiger – Chamber Champion

The Ray Geiger Award is the highest honor given to a member by the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. It is the chamber’s most prestigious award. It is given to an individual who has proven to be a champion of and for the chamber. The award is presented to an individual who has invested a great deal of time, energy, and resources into furthering the chamber’s mission and working toward bettering our communities.

The winner is… Peter Chalke

Theresa Samson – Women’s Business Leadership

The Theresa Samson award honors a successful woman business owner or primary manager, for her business success, career achievements and contributions to the community. Businesses led by women are and will continue to have a noticeable impact on the economy. This annual award helps inspire the continued growth of women leading businesses in our community.

The winner is… Cyndi Robbins

Ken Additon – Small Business Advocacy

The Ken Additon Small Business Advocacy Award goes to an individual who has demonstrated commitment to small-business advocacy above and beyond policies that specifically impact their own business or industry and a proven history of volunteer efforts to advance and improve the overall small-business community. In addition, success in advocating for pro-small business policies and success and growth as a small-business owner.

The winner is… Michael Dostie

Icon Award

The icon award is a community person, business or organization that has truly become an icon in our community. This community icon will be immortalized forever with the creation of an actual icon to be utilized in the LA Metro Chamber’s branding.

The winner is… Simones Hot Dog Stand

Community Service Award

The Community Service Award honors outstanding individuals or organizations that give their time and expertise to the community, above and beyond their own field of endeavor, and demonstrate excellence, creativity and initiative in all they do. The recipient is an inspiration to the community, both in their profession and in their efforts to make the LA region a better place to live, work and play.

The winner is… Kora Shrine Center

Business Leadership Award

A business, agency, organization, community or non-profit corporation which has helped invigorate the economic health of the area while also contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual or physical well being of the LA region.

The winner is… Geiger

President’s Award

An individual or organization chosen by the chamber president for an outstanding achievement or recognizable contribution.

The winner is… Lewiston High School state champion soccer team

Outstanding Chamber Member Award

An individual or organization chosen by the chamber staff for their outstanding contribution to the chamber.

The winner is… Life Center at John F. Murphy Homes

We Need More Businesses Like Poland Spring

As published in the Sun Journal June 25, 2016.

The Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan community is lucky to have corporate partners like Poland Spring. In fact, Maine needs more businesses like Poland Spring that want to grow and invest in our economy and contribute to local charities and schools.

Poland Spring has invested more than $430 million into the economy of the state of Maine, spends $60 million a year with local suppliers and has an annual payroll of $42 million.

It is unfortunate that race organizers for the Triple Crown did not take the time to explore other ways to partner with Poland Spring this year (Sun Journal story, June 11).I understand the race was taking a different approach this year, but that should have been clearly communicated to Poland Spring instead of politicized in the newspaper.

Poland Spring is a model corporate citizen and a company that deserves praise for setting a great example for how to run a Maine business that does sustainability right. This company’s many contributions often go unnoticed, which is unfortunate. Our community is lucky to have Poland Spring’s support. And, frankly, so is our state.

They support our communities through charitable outreach; create jobs for and employ more than 800 Mainers; invest in local water infrastructure projects and practice environmental sustainability every step of the way. As a life-long Mainer, I have always been proud of Poland Spring, whether here at home or deployed around the world. In my role as president and CEO of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, I have had the fortunate opportunity to observe the company and learn more about its operations and significant impact on our economy and communities.

For example, I know that Poland Spring takes water management seriously and constantly does research to determine that their water bottling practices are sustainable and will not hurt the environment or threaten the population’s access to and quantity of safe drinking water.

I have also learned that the company has given $6 million to local Maine communities and have made a substantial investment in environmental education throughout the state of Maine by partnering with organizations such as Project WET and The Ecology School. More than 9,000 students in Maine have participated in environmental education programming through Poland Spring curricula and funding.

Poland Spring knows what Maine and its people stand for as well as anyone, given their rich 170-year history operating in the state. Being a good, responsible neighbor and a model business is at the core of everything they do.

I hope the Triple Crown race continues in our community for years to come and I would encourage them to remain open to working with local businesses that share the same desire to ensure this race’s ongoing success.


8 Strategies for Aspiring Leaders

8 Strategies for Aspiring Leaders, LA Metro Chamber Premier Speaker Series, August 19

image001On Friday, August 19 from 8am to Noon, the LA Metro Chamber will host 8 Strategies for Aspiring Leaders as part of their premier speaker series. The seminar will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Auburn Riverwatch, 14 Great Falls Plaza, Auburn.

This seminar addresses the challenges you face as a new or emerging leader. You’ll leave with actionable strategies and tactics you can put into practice in your business or company culture – today. This is not a lecture!  You’re part of an engaging conversation — complete with group exercises to help you develop Character Disciplined Leadership at ALL levels, independent of title or position!

Perfect for:

  • Aspiring leaders within an organization
  • Recent college graduates
  • Leadership development candidates
  • Professionals transitioning to a new leadership role
  • New Entrepreneurs / Business Owners

Your session includes:

  • The SL 15: online questionnaire identifying leadership challenges and goals prior to the event. Findings will become part of your group discussion
  • Your copy of “8 Strategies For Aspiring Leaders”
  • Your personal Sensei Leader workbook
  • Complimentary access to our online program

BONUS: Signed copy of the Sensei Leader included — limited to the first 50 registrations!

Presenter: Jim Bouchard of Black Belt Mindset Productions, LLC. “I’m a former drug addict and two time college dropout. I used to think that was a miserable resume for someone who trains leaders to be better people. I now know that it is the perfect resume.  Leaders are made, not born.  I’ll go a little further, leaders are transformed. Leaders are people who transform themselves through their experiences, opportunities and challenges to become the people others count on for inspiration, guidance and action. I transformed myself from a loser to a leader––from a drug abuser to a Black Belt, and later to Sensei. Over 25 years of teaching I helped hundreds of others transform themselves into Black Belts, and thousands more discover their best selves.”

Jim’s keynotes, workshops and seminars help you build and maintain a strong culture of “character disciplined leadership,” the foundation of organizational success. He is an internationally recognized business speaker, trainer and author of The Sensei Leader and Think Like a Black Belt.

“The Sensei Leader was a home run! (Jim’s) presentation was outstanding and we couldn’t be happier.”

Download the flyer to print and share!

Reserve your seat today! Price is $149 for LA Metro Chamber members and $249 for non members. Registration is available at www.LAMetroChamber.com. For questions, call 207-783-2249.

LA Metro Chamber Board of Directors Expresses Strong Support for LAEGC

On behalf of our members, the Board of Directors of the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce expresses its strong and resolute support for the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council (LAEGC) and the work that it does on behalf of our communities.

LAEGC should be allowed to continue its important work for the economic future of our communities uninhibited by personal or political motives and agendas.

Whether working on large projects such as the Miracle Enterprises redevelopment of The Barn or with small businesses such as Legends Sports Bar and Grill or Top it Frozen Yogurt; or helping with saving community icons such as Lost Valley, LAEGC has made a tangible and positive impact on business in our communities.

We applaud the Auburn City Council for its service to our communities, its steadfast resolve to ensure sound fiscal stewardship, and its commitment to education and workforce development opportunities. We support the Auburn City Council for its diligence while also imploring it to maintain Auburn’s commitment to LAEGC — now and in the future. We believe it is in the best interest of both Auburn and Lewiston.

There is work to be done here. We see energy, momentum, and enormous potential in the greater Lewiston Auburn metropolitan area, and we are committed to hustling every day to make it a desirable place to live, work, and play. Together with our membership, we will raise the tide.

The Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council is an important partner in our efforts, and we look forward to working together to secure a brighter economic future for our communities.

Jennifer Ziebart, Director of Marketing and Communications
Jenny@LAMetroChamber.com, (207) 783-2249