New Bridgton chamber director knows region well

BRIDGTON – Barbara Clark is back in the business of helping business.

Clark, a Naples resident who served as executive director of the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce for nine years until last April, has been hired to lead the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. Her first day was Monday, April 8.

While many applicants expressed interest, Clark was one of four finalists for the job, said chamber President Ken Murphy.

“We’re looking forward to working with her and I think she’ll be a great asset to the Greater Bridgton Lakes Region chamber,” Murphy said.

Clark replaces Bridgton native Jim Mains, who directed the chamber beginning in November 2009. Mains will remain as a board member.

“Jim did a great job stabilizing our chamber and moving us forward and we expect with Barbara’s experience and her knowledge of chambers that she’ll step it up a notch and be a great asset to us,” Murphy said.

Mains, who ran a Bridgton-based baseball-bat and furniture manufacturing business that he inherited from his father and grandfather, was honored with a send-off Wednesday evening at Campfire Grille in Bridgton. He said is looking forward to taking over the helm of Bridgton Highlands Country Club, where he has played golf for years. He is one of the stockholders who bought the course in 1992. Mains worked with Clark on several projects, such as opening a Naples information center, when Clark directed the Sebago Lakes Region chamber.

“I’m very excited about Barbara coming into our chamber. She’s going to be a great addition especially at the juncture where the chamber is right now,” Mains said. “We’re stable, we’re ready to grow. We’ve got a great board of directors and an active membership and my personal feeling is Barbara really has her credentials and the background to really take the chamber to the next level.”

Clark said is “glad to be back” in the local business world. Clark, who is the immediate past president of the Maine Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, said she enjoys “chamber work” and has had the chance to form bonds with businesses in the past and looks forward to renew previous relationships and develop new ones.

“I’m very excited. It’s an awesome opportunity,” she said. “Some of the businesses and communities I know from Sebago [Lakes Region chamber], but there are also new opportunities in other towns I have not worked with. So I’m looking forward to it.”

She said her exit from the Sebago chamber was a mutual decision between her and the board and came at a time when she had a lot of family obligations.

“I had been there nine years and I had done what was expected of me and grew the chamber and received lots of accolades, and lots of things got done the way they should have been done. But it was just time for a change,” she said.

In the greater Bridgton chamber, which covers 13 communities with more than 300 members, Clark has definite goals.

“Obviously, it’s about retention of membership, growing of new membership, growing of economic development, growing of workforce development, all of the above,” she said.

She also looks forward to partnering with the Sebago chamber, which shares four towns: Casco, Raymond, Naples and Sebago.

“Obviously there’s a geographic difference [between the two chambers] but businesses are businesses,” she said. “They all have challenges, they all have needs, they all have wants and desires, and it’s just taking this expertise I’ve gained and helping them retain and move forward their businesses.

“That’s my passion, and that’s what I love to do.”

Barbara Clark