YARMOUTH — The town and Chamber of Commerce are hoping to encourage networking and gain insight into local businesses with a new discussion series.
On Thursday, Oct. 25, at noon, the economic development office and the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce will launch Business Lunch Breaks at the Yarmouth History Center.
According to Scott LaFlamme, the town’s director of economic development, the initiative is aimed at allowing local businesses to “connect, network, discuss needs, challenges, and opportunities” to help them thrive. Lunch will be provided.
Interested businesses can sign up on the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce website.
LaFlamme said he does not know how many businesses have signed up for the first session so far, but there was a good response on Facebook and he expects a “pretty healthy turnout.”
The first event in the series will be centered on Yarmouth’s creative economy, which could include local artists, makers, media, art-based nonprofits and design professionals.
“We’re so lucky in Yarmouth to have such a bustling community of artists, makers, and creative professionals,” LaFlamme said. “We really want to hear about what successes and challenges they’re experiencing, and identify opportunities to collaborate, and find out what we can do to help them thrive.”
The next events have not been scheduled yet, but LaFlamme said they will each focus on different industries such as real estate and development, retail, service, and restaurants.
LaFlamme said he has been involved with similar events in other communities and has seen the payoff, which includes creating “an open dialogue in a professional network.”
In Bath, for instance, he said downtown merchants were able to gain “a tremendous amount” of information about the local market after sharing experiences and pitfalls and networking discussions became a popular biannual event.
LaFlamme also thinks it will be helpful in brainstorming ways to connect different types of businesses in Yarmouth.
The discussions will be helpful to town staff, too, as they may give staff members ideas for policies or programming that could be put in place to help businesses.
His hope, LaFlamme added, is to make the Business Lunch Breaks a monthly occurrence.
“In the past when it’s been focusing on different sectors, (it’s been) two or three times a year. It could be monthly, it could be more often,” he said. “It’s really meant to sort of create a platform for dialogue – how businesses react will be different depending on what the sector is.”
The flow of the moderated sessions will be “organic,” LaFlamme added, and begin with a handful of questions he will ask to prompt discussions.
He also said the talks will not be entirely focused on for-profit businesses in town, and he would like to encourage nonprofits to attend as well.
Ultimately, LaFlamme thinks the businesses that participate will be able to learn from each other.
“It’s a great opportunity for businesses to come in and share their story and be a sounding board for everyone else,” he said.
The Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce and the town are launching a Business Lunch Breaks series on Oct. 25.