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This week’s edition!

Business leaders receive LA Metro awards

LEWISTON – At its Annual Awards Celebration the last week of June, the LA Metro Chamber presented Betsy Sawyer-Manter, President and CEO of SeniorsPlus, with the 2021 Theresa Samson Women’s Business Leadership Award.

Sawyer-Manter has been the President and CEO of SeniorsPlus since 2009.  During her tenure, the nonprofit’s annual budget has grown from $19 million to $34 million as SeniorsPlus added new services including Fiscal Intermediary services, Veterans Independence Program, Dementia Capable Maine, Money Minders, and enhanced Education Center offerings.

Theresa Samson (left) is shown with Betsy Sawyer-Manter, President and CEO of SeniorsPlus, recipient of the 2021 Theresa Samson Women’s Business Leadership Award. (Photo by Kait Gallagher, GingerSnap Rentals)

Sawyer-Manter is a founding member of the Maine Council on Aging and is active in many committees and work groups at the state level.

The Theresa Samson Women’s Business Leadership 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 LA Metro Chamber serves the greater Lewiston-Auburn metropolitan area. The Annual Awards Celebration took place at the Poland Spring Resort and was attended by more than 200 people.

Established in 1972 and headquartered in Lewiston, SeniorsPlus is the Western Maine designated Area Agency on Aging covering Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties.

Chamber Champion

Jennifer Hogan of Community Credit Union received the Chamber’s highest honor as the recipient of the Ray Geiger-Chamber Champion award.

Jennifer Hogan of Community Credit Union received the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of  Commerce’s highest honor as the recipient of the Ray Geiger-Chamber Champion award at the Chamber’s annual awards ceremony at the end of June. (Photo courtesy of LA Metro Chamber)

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.

Hogan served two terms as Board Chair of the Chamber, and has mentored new Board Members and Committee Chairs throughout her years of volunteer work for the Chamber.

Leading Through Change

John Alexander, MD, from Central Maine Healthcare, was awarded the Chamber’s new Leading Through Change Award.

:John Alexander, MD, from Central Maine Healthcare, was awarded the new Leading Through Change Award by the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce at a ceremony at the end of June. (Photo courtesy of LA Metro Chamber)

That new award is for a Chamber member whose leadership excelled at navigating the uncertainty and unpredictability of 2020, who displayed adaptive qualities and acted nimbly to respond to the needs of their team and/or community, and who led with both confidence and vulnerability.

In nominating Dr. Alexander, CMHC Senior Vice-President Steven Littelson said that even before Maine’s first COVID-19 case arrived on the doorstep of Central Maine Medical Center last March, Dr. Alexander was a passionate champion in leading the fight against the virus. He led the health system’s efforts to care for patients with the virus while making sure the system could continue providing critical healthcare services for other patients during a very stressful and confusing time.

In addition, Dr. Alexander became the point of contact for the Lewiston-Auburn community, giving generously of his time and expertise to educate and reassure elected officials, first responders and business leaders. In the first months of the pandemic, Dr. Alexander led CMHC’s Incident Command, bringing together the senior leadership team and activating readiness and response efforts.

Community Service

Roger Philippon, with the Community Little Theatre, received the Community Service Award.

He has been a member of CLT for more than 25 years, helping with publicity, chairing CLT’s By-Laws Committee and serving on the board of directors for CLT.

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.

Business Leadership

Jules Paltry received the Business Leadership Award as the owner of DaVinci’s Eatery, located in the historic Bates Mill Complex on Mill Street in Lewiston.

The award is presented to 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.

In nominating Paltry, Michael Dostie said, “Jules exemplifies the type of developer the city of Lewiston desperately needs. He is a man of the community supporting many of our local nonprofits and events but more than that he is a community minded developer. His recent project at 199 Lisbon street reignites a long stagnant property in the heart of our downtown.”

President’s Award

Alex McMahan and Allison Carmen from The Healing Community MEDCo received the President’s Award, which is given by the LA Metro Chamber president to an individual or organization for an outstanding achievement or recognizable contribution.

Shann Cox, President and CEO of the Chamber, said she nominated the two because MEDCo became a regional leader in 2020, and even as a new member sought to dedicate themselves to the communities they are in, and to the Chamber and our mission. “As the pandemic bore down upon the people in our area, MEDCo created The Healing Community Food Challenge. MEDCo would commit gift cards to grocery stores near people who had been affected by shutdowns, pairing up with case workers, local employers and the Chamber. The Chamber challenged our members to donate, with MEDCo matching dollar for dollar. We raised over $5,000 in a few short weeks, with MEDCo’s $5,000 match, we put $10,000+ of groceries onto peoples dinner tables when they needed it most.”

Small Business Advocacy

Polylabs was awarded the Ken Addition-Small Business Advocacy award, which 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.

According to the anonymous nomination, in late summer 2020 Anania Associates learned that long time manufacturer Jones and Vining had announced they were closing their Lewiston facility, gave notice to customers to place their last orders, and informed local workers they were going to be laid off.

Anania & Associates saw value where J & V did not and quickly moved to line up the financing needed to acquire the real estate and equipment. In approximately 2 months they lined up the financing with FAME, South Park Development Corporation, and private investors and closed on a $5.5 million deal They reached out to staff asking them to stay, and to customers, letting them know the plant would remain operational under new ownership. Customer and staff responded well. Employment since the change of ownership in November 2020 has doubled (from mid 20 to over 50 employees) and continues to grow. Trust was re-established with existing customers and new markets are being opened. Anania & Associates followed a similar playbook with Elmet Technologies, saving it from bank liquidation, empowering a local management team, and providing guidance and support as the company found new markets needing its expertise manufacturing with tungsten and molybdenum.

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