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Our New Chamber Name

April 7, 2022

Our New Chamber Name
By BBRC Executive Director Cory King
This column originally appeared in the March 16, 2022 edition of the Times Record in the “From the Chamber” section

Last Friday, our chamber held our Annual Awards Night where we honored four outstanding leaders of tremendous local organizations, and also shared some transformational news about our organization.  We announced the six workforce programs that will make up our first year of Chamber Works 2030- the chamber’s new workforce initiative- and we revealed our new chamber logo and new chamber name. 

It was quite a night and a huge thanks goes to our guests in attendance, our event sponsors- Wilcox Wellness & Fitness and Burgess Technology Services- and our 2022 Cornerstone Members.  Additionally, people are still raving about the “Flavors of Maine” menu that was presented by Cook’s Lobster & Ale House, the gorgeous cutting board awards created by Forwood Thinking, and the professional photos of the winners taken by Jeff Morris of The Pierce Studio. 

The amount of information that we packed into that one night is more than I want to recap in just one column.  Honestly, these are major projects and accolades, and they deserve more attention than three sentences in a single recap column.  Thus, over the next two months I will be devoting time in this column to get you the deeper dive information on these projects, these award winners, and explain how these pieces fit into the grander direction of our chamber. 

Today, I want to start with the new chamber name.

The new chamber name falls firmly into the category of ‘what’s old, is new again’ as after six months and four rounds of surveying we landed back on a name that was very close one of our previous names.  Though the outcome is similar, it’s important that everyone knows how we got to this name. 

First a history lesson, or a refresher for those who know.  Bath and Brunswick used to have their own chambers of commerce.  In the ‘90s they realized that they could accomplish more by merging and working regionally, so they combined and made themselves the Bath-Brunswick Chamber of Commerce.  Over the next decade they expanded their reach to many neighboring communities, and soon were being asked for a more regional name to help encompass the businesses outside the two founding chamber communities. 

They came up with a new name around 2005- The Midcoast Chamber.  Once that was announced several coastal communities further north on Route 1 got very upset because they were not part of this region, but very much considered themselves Midcoast.  There was talk of legal action, and so our chamber changed its name to the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber in 2006.

It's important to note why that change was made.  It was made because they were looking for a way to describe this region that specifically didn’t use community names.  It’s hard.  We found this when we did our marketing surveys.  There are few names that describe the 16-community region our chamber covers.   ‘Tri-county’ was suggested for the three counties our communities reside in, but nobody calls Cumberland, Sagadahoc and Lincoln the Tri-County region.  Merrymeeting Bay was suggested, but many tourists don’t know where Merrymeeting Bay is. 

The chamber team who came up with Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber did a great job for what they were trying to accomplish- they were trying to create a new regional brand.  But after 15 years, it hadn’t caught on- and it’s okay to admit that too.  It's just not a name that stuck in people’s heads. 

It's important to know that when we began our work of renaming the chamber, our goal was different then our predecessor. Our goal was to have a name that could be found on a map- that anchored us to a region.  We did that because we would regularly get calls asking about events in Ogunquit and other beach communities, and when we said ‘that’s not our area’ we would get a response of ‘but you’re the Southern Coast chamber, right?’  Or when I would attend a statewide event and introduce myself, people would say, ‘where’s that cover?’ 

Additionally, tourists have as much luck guessing where the Southern Midcoast of Maine is, as we do of guessing where the Southern Midcoast of New Jersey or Delaware is.  I mean, we could guess at it, but isn’t it better to have a name that people can identify immediately?

As we began this work last fall, we asked people numerous questions like ‘which of these words do you prefer: Greater, Regional, Area, Midcoast or Coastal’, and we asked for what phrases they use to describe the region.  From feedback and suggestions, we came to over 30 different names which included different combinations of community names and regional phrases.  Citizens, past board members of the chamber, and our businesses voted on the proposed names.  In the end twelve names got whittled down to 5 names, from which a winner was selected by popular vote.   

I’m delighted to tell you that I’m the Executive Director of the new Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber. 

It’s not that different to what we had before.  However, when you look at the state, many regional chambers in the last 15 years have shifted to using a single community name or two in their names. Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce. Portland Regional Chamber. Lewiston/Auburn Metropolitan Chamber.  Even the Penobscot Bay Chamber has shifted to leading their marketing with their two biggest towns (as witnessed by their website  

The hint I gave to a few people who wanted to guess the name prior to the unveiling was, ‘if I told you the new name was four words, you would guess it within five guesses’.  And that’s the point.  Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber tells people exactly where we are. 

Note: I’m learning that this name change will actually take about 2 months to complete, with notifying vendors, social media updates, website changes, bylaw updates and more. Just know when you see Bath-Brunswick Regional Chamber popping up around the region, that is still us. What’s old is new again, indeed. 


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