FARMINGTON – Erin F. Arthers came to the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce as its new executive director last July 15, after working for more than a year at the Piscataquis Chamber. Born in Dover-Foxcroft, she obtained a bachelors degree in business and marketing and had worked her way up to management in the banking industry over a period of eight years.
She now lives in Jay, and her goal is to get to know all 200 present members of the Chamber while learning all about the history, successes and struggles of the Chamber, which has gone through a major reconfiguration over the past year. Arthers told local Rotarians that she is looking to discover where she can be most supportive of members and the communities while carrying out the Chamber’s mission.
The Chamber is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to economic growth and job creation in Franklin County while fostering civic pride and cultural awareness.
Arthers explained how the Chamber works for members and the communities it serves. Its website, franklincountymaine.org, has listings for all members and posts community events. Brochure racks provide referrals to businesses. The annual Welcome Guide provides free listings for all members, in addition to plenty of information on community attractions and happenings. The Welcome Guide is distributed throughout New England each May and can also be found at the Maine Visitor Centers, Arthers said.
“We have a location that is unique in the United States – inside a Wal-mart,” Arthers stressed. For almost a year, the Chamber office has been located in what was once the optometrist space at Farmington Wal-Mart. This space has a separate outside entrance, and the Chamber has also been able to locate brochure racks at the entrances to the main store, where members are free to distribute their pamphlets and literature. “Three thousand people walk by these racks each day,” she said.
A Chamber newsletter published in the Sun Journal reaches 10,000 households, Arthers said. There also are additional advertising opportunities.
The Chamber’s annual Awards Dinner was held Nov. 21, at North Dining Hall at UMF. Activities included recognition of small and large businesses and the non-profit organization of the year, followed by the annual meeting. The theme for this year’s banquet wa “Stars in Business and Community.”
The Chamber hosts a quarterly business breakfast series on relevant issues, and sponsors of these events are always welcome, Arthers said. Business after hours gatherings are also great networking opportunities, Arther said.
Community involvement included participation in the 37th annual Chester Greenwood Day, always held the first Saturday in December. This event included a parade, Rotary’s own Festival of Trees (this year at the North Church); a Gingerbread House Contest, Chili Cookout and Polar Bear Dip at Clearwater Pond in Industry.
The Chamber’s Gerry Wiles Holiday Food Basket program annually collects enough foodstuffs to fill 100 baskets for area families in need, Arthers aid.