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 Senator Susan Collins, to our generous sponsors, and to all of you who have come to help honor our awardees!
Our Membership, comprised of 650 businesses and organizations, continues to thrive through this challenging economy, and we are well prepared to continue supporting our Members throughout 2012.
Tonight we recognize the hard work, talent and leadership that has led to the success of people who excel in their areas of expertise; people who are risk-takers committed to growing right here in our Capital region, and who give so generously in so many ways to make our communities stronger. These are the real job creators. You will learn in our video presentations that these winners have helped create more than 200 jobs in the last year alone!
I am personally in the business of hiring people and placing them in both temporary and permanent job assignments with many different companies – sort of a matchmaker between employer and employee, if you will. But matching good workers with good jobs is sometimes a challenge and that is one reason your Chamber Board has selected ‘Education and Workforce Development’ as a primary goal for 2012. We simply must better prepare people for the growing needs of our technologically complex workplaces.
Our 2012 goals also include supporting natural gas as an energy option in Kennebec Valley Region. We are working with Kennebec Valley Gas Company, which plans a regional pipeline from Richmond to Madison. We are also supporting downtown development in our cities, promoting personal health and wellness in our workplaces, and underscoring the positives of doing business right here in the Capital region.
We are very excited about the construction of MaineGeneral’s new $300 million hospital and the jobs it is currently creating, as well as the hundreds of jobs created by the construction of CMP’s power reliability project. A number of other projects, both large and small, have also helped our region grow in the last year.
Already this year – 2012 – we’ve celebrated the expansion of one of our high tech manufacturing companies (Kennebec Technologies). We will also see the opening of a new hotel (Hampton Inn), two new bank facilities (Bangor Savings and Camden National) and the large expansion of an automobile dealership (O’Connor) among other projects. As a Chamber we will continue to play a key role in supporting such economic development of our region.
Our winners tonight have been crucial in helping us thrive. We're about to hear their fascinating stories, and we'll learn a few secrets of their successes. We'll rally around a theme of continued growth, and we'll get a good glimpse of the hundreds of talented Maine people who work for and contribute to the successes of these businesses and organizations.
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!
In closing, I’d like to recognize my fellow Board members and thank them for the leadership and support that they provide to the Kennebec Valley Chamber. They are all listed on your program, so I won't name them all, but I would ask that they all stand and be recognized.
Thank you so much, and enjoy your evening!