Friday, January 8, 2021

Real Estate: 2020: A Thank You to our community

By Tom Bartell

Windham Economic Development Corporation

First, a big “Thank You!” to everyone who helped keep our local businesses going through last year and will continue to help as we work towards an end to the COVID19 Pandemic and the devastating effects it has had on our economy.  Whether you ordered take out at a local restaurant, or placed orders with local retailers for curbside pickup, you have been helping our local small businesses get through these difficult and everchanging times.

While 2020 has been trying on us all, we have learned a few things about ourselves and our community, some we will work on to improve, and others we can be proud of and build upon.  We have rediscovered some of the vulnerabilities in our economy, both in Windham and the Lakes Region, and perhaps more importantly we have rediscovered the strengths of our residents, businesses and community. 

The Town of Windham and the Windham Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided regional leadership with our response to the pandemic and with the partnerships we have strengthened through that response.  Our work with seven Lakes Region communities set an example of regional cooperation that should continue long past the pandemic.  The WEDC’s partnership with the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director Robin Mullins, in support of local business, has been incredibly successful and will continue long past the end of the Keep Sebago Lakes Region Healthy Initiative, the results of which you have seen throughout the region.

The Town Council and WEDC Board of Directors responded quickly to Covid19 related business restrictions as they adapted local Land Use ordinances to allow for expanded outdoor dining and retail
sales and developed a new small business loan program to help businesses during and after the pandemic.  Town Manager Barry Tibbetts’ staff and WEDC stepped up to manage the Keep Maine Healthy Initiative grant and the purchasing and distribution of nearly 100,000 pieces of PPE, signage, and marketing materials.  Fire-Rescue Chief Libby and his team produced Public Health information.  Jennifer Kenneally, WEDC’s marketing consultant produced numerous informative videos for tv, social media posts, and print ads in the Windham Eagle and other publications.  And Linda Brooks and the Parks and Recreation team and volunteers, in partnership with the Chamber and WEDC, and Windham’s very generous restauranteurs, provided seniors weekly meals when the community’s most vulnerable residents were at risk of going without.  Many other’s have helped throughout our community as well.

“Windham SmallBiz360”

One of the hard lessons learned was that we found many of our small businesses had an inadequate social media and web presence which left them with no avenue to sell products or to take orders for curbside pickup. In response to these lessons, the WEDC is launching a small business development program “Windham SmallBiz360” with our consumer analysis partner The Retail Coach. We will be working with small businesses in Windham to analyze their social media presence, provide consumer information, ecommerce, and website assistance, and we will be doing a community wide consumer preference survey. 

If you are interested in taking your business to the next level with your social media and online reach and learn more about your current and future customers please contact Tom Bartell, WEDC Executive Director at 892-2936 or  <

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