2016-09-12 / Front Page

Business Expo has dual purpose

Rod Harmon

Where did summer go? Last weekend, I returned from a trip to visit family in the Midwest to fall leaves in the backyard and temperatures dipping into the 50s at night. My daughter returned to school on Tuesday, and her field hockey team has already launched three fundraisers. Homecoming is this week. Football season began last Thursday, and the World Series is only a month away. (Go Cubs!)

Like it or not, fall is upon us. And for some local businesses, it means many of their summer employees have returned to school, leaving openings that must be filled in time for leaf-peeping season.

Fortunately, the Biddeford + Saco Chamber of Commerce + Industry is here to help.

On Wednesday, the Chamber will host its 12th annual Business Expo at XL SportsWorld, 400 North St., Saco. This year’s event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Chamber’s “Community Awareness Campaign” to provide visibility to the twin cities’ diversified economy, including some industries that many residents think have faded into the past.

Case in point: manufacturing.

“For a long time, the public thought manufacturing was dead,” said Craig Pendleton, executive director of the Chamber. “As a matter of fact, the Biddeford-Saco area is doing really well in terms of manufacturing, and they’re one of the big employers that need workers. We are hoping to highlight that, and let people know there are careers (in manufacturing).”

The expo will be preceded by a job fair, which is returning after an absence of a couple of years. The job fair was introduced as an addition to the business expo during the recession, but was phased out when the economy improved and the unemployment rate dropped. Now it’s being brought back – for different reasons.

“Now we have the opposite problem, where businesses are finding it hard to find workers,” Pendleton said .

More than 60 businesses had signed up for the event as of Friday, many of which will be participating in both the job fair and expo. Slugger, the mascot of the Portland Sea Dogs, and Crusher, the mascot of the Maine Red Claws, will be there too.

The job fair will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the expo will run from 4:30-7 p.m. Between the time when the job fair closes and the expo opens to the public, participants will have the chance to leave their booths and network.

There were still a few non-electrical booths available to reserve as of Friday. Cost is $325, and the Chamber will take reservations up to the day of the expo. To reserve a booth or for more information about the expo and job fair, call 282-1567 or visit BiddefordSacoChamber.org.

OTHER AREA CHAMBERS also have events planned for this week:

• The Kennebunk- Kennebunkport-Arundel Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, dinner and awards ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Motorland, 2564 Portland Road (U.S. Route 1) in Arundel. The event, which has been dubbed “DRIVE,” has a black-and-white theme, and will include live music by The Waiters and dinner by Destination Catering. An after-party with food, cocktails, a DJ and, weather permitting, poolside lounging follows at 8 p.m. at Cape Arundel Cottage Preserve, 1976 Portland Road (U.S. Route 1). Cost is $70 for the ceremony/dinner and $25 for the after-party; a combined ticket costs $90. For information, call 967-0857 or go to visitthekennebunks.com.

• The Wells Chamber of Commerce will host its eighth annual Family Jamboree from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Wells Harbor Park, 331 Harbor Road (weather permitting). The family-friendly event will feature games, craft activities and vendors, story time, the Wells Fire Department Fire Safety Trailer and fire engine, and more. Admission, parking and all games and activities are free; food will be available for purchase. Call 646-2451 or visit wellschamber.org for more information.

— Rod Harmon is managing editor of the Journal Tribune. Send business news to rharmon@journaltribune.com.

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