NORTH YARMOUTH — The town may not have the Route 1 commercial strip possessed by its neighbors, but the North Yarmouth Business Association wants to spread the word that the town has plenty of its own businesses.
It will stage a Community Business Trade Show in the North Yarmouth Memorial School gym from 5-7 p.m. Friday, March 11. Admission and refreshments are free.
Formed in 2009, the NYBA is an offshoot of the town’s Economic Development and Sustainability Committee, association President Darla Hamlin said in an interview where she was joined by Secretary Marilyn Matthews and Treasurer Leslie Taisey Feb. 25.
One of the group’s first initiatives was publishing a directory of 150 businesses in town. The association plans to update the directory in print form, as well as online at northyarmouthbusiness.com.
The organization now includes about 30 business owners. At first, members had to both live and own businesses in North Yarmouth; now membership is available to anyone who meets either requirement. Matthews, for example, lives in Cumberland, but runs Averill Insurance in North Yarmouth.
Despite membership – which costs $25 a year – being opened to a broader demographic, the group has not grown as much as Hamlin would like, she said. Still, the core membership has remained consistent since 2009, Matthews said.
“I look at this as a professional organization,” geared toward promoting both local businesses and “wellness in the community,” Hamlin said.
The group holds business meetings the second Thursday of each month, at Stone’s Cafe at 7 a.m., with an after hours gathering at the Toddy Brook Golf Course at 5:30 p.m. the third Thursday.
Guest speakers can include state legislators, or a North Yarmouth resident who works for the Maine Revenue Service, Hamlin said, noting that “We’re trying to bring information back to the business owner, to help them strengthen their own business.”
“If somebody takes advantage of it, it’s a pretty good resource,” Matthews said.
The organization and North Yarmouth Fire-Rescue Department also recently co-hosted a CPR class for members and other residents in the community.
The March 11 trade show will be NYBA’s third. The most recent one, held in 2014, had 25 exhibitors, and was attended by about 200 people. Nineteen exhibitors had signed up as of last week for the North Yarmouth Memorial School event, but Hamlin hopes the number will hit 30.
Town officials, committee chairmen and the North Yarmouth Memorial Park Corp. have been or will be asked if they want a free table, she said.
“We’re really happy to have that as our venue, hoping that it will remain available for these kinds of events, whatever happens up there,” Taisey said.
“This is also an opportunity to show the town that things can happen there,” Hamlin added.
NYBA looks to grow at the same time that the town is exploring options for the venue, which School Administrative District 51 closed and transferred to the town in 2014. Hearings on two redevelopment proposals for the North Yarmouth Memorial School property will be held in the school gym Saturday, March 19 and Wednesday, March 23.
“This organization, being where it is now, is kind of at the point where we might be able to draw a lot more interest because of what’s going to develop here in the next several years,” Matthews said. “I would love to see that.”
Marilyn Matthews, left, Darla Hamlin and Leslie Taisey are the secretary, president and treasurer, respectively, of the North Yarmouth Business Association. The group will host its third Community Business Trade Show at North Yarmouth Memorial School Friday, March 11.