Chamber Board Chair Allyson Handley Addresses Record Attendence at Annual Awards Banquet
Allyson Hughes Handley, Ed.D.
President of the University of Maine at Augusta
Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce Board Chair
What a wonderful pleasure it is for me to add my congratulations to our outstanding award winners tonight. I’d like to add special thanks from our Board to our generous sponsors, and to all of you who have come to help honor our awardees!
Our Chamber, comprised of some 600 businesses and organizations, continues to thrive through this challenging economy, and we are well prepared to continue supporting Members throughout 2013.
Tonight we recognize the hard work, talent and leadership qualities that have led to the success of these people who excel in their areas of expertise. These individuals are risk-takers, committed to growing their organizations right here in our Capital region, strengthening our economy and giving so generously in so many ways to make our communities stronger. These are the real job creators. You will learn in our video presentations how these winners have helped create and retain thousands of direct and indirect jobs here in our Augusta Micropolitan!
In my five years as president of the University of Maine at Augusta I have been so very impressed at how well the people of this Capital-Kennebec region work closely together to improve our community.
For example, back in April of 2008, only one month after I arrived, I became part of a Kennebec Chamber and Augusta Board of Trade fundraising committee to help promote an $11 million highway exit from I-95 to better access the proposed $300 million MaineGeneral hospital and other economic growth in this neighborhood.
It is so exciting now to see the progress on this modern 600,000 square-foot hospital which will be opening later this year. I want to commend Scott Bullock and Chuck Hays and all of their MaineGeneral team members for making this happen. (pause, applause Scott and Chuck). And in the next several months we will see the fruits of that committee’s work, as the Maine Department of Transportation builds the new link from Exit 113.
Another example of collaboration is the revitalization of the new colorful Downtown Augusta. I’m particularly pleased that UMA has joined this rebirth by refurbishing the old five-story Gannett building into our campus center for architecture and arts programs. More than two dozen new businesses have opened on Water Street in the past two years. UMA will also have a presence at the airport where we are working with Maine Instrument Flight to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in aviation.
Economic growth in our micropolitan comes in many forms from the small one-person enterprises to some pretty large businesses. In the past several months we’ve seen some major investments at two of Augusta’s gateways – the new O’Connor Motors dealership on Riverside Drive (we’ll hear more on this shortly) and the nearly complete Bangor Savings Bank regional center on Western Avenue, scheduled to open next month.
Three new banks have entered the market. We welcome Camden National Bank, Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and Skowhegan Savings Bank and we congratulate Kennebec Savings Bank on its new branch in Farmingdale.
The Chamber continues its goal of bringing Natural Gas to the region and is working closely with the competing companies, Maine Natural Gas and Summit Utilities, both of whom are members of the Chamber.
As you know, the Chamber best serves it membership and the community by promoting free enterprise and competition. Well it is my duty and pleasure to welcome our friendly competitor, Kaplan University, to this market as we all work to help prepare people for the workforce of the future.
On behalf of the full board I would like to add our congratulations to Rick, Scott, Peter, Sheree and Andy, Teresa and Randy, Laura, Deborah and Mike!
When it comes to economic stimulus, these award winners are as good as it gets! Every one of our award recipients exerts a positive impact upon the fabric of our lives here in the Kennebec Valley, and we wish them all continued success!
Finally, I’d like to recognize fellow Board members and thank them for the leadership and support that they provide. Thank you so much, and enjoy your evening!