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Camden National Bank president discusses Midcoast economy

Apr 02, 2021
Camden National Bank’s President and CEO, Greg Dufour spoke to the Camden Rotary Club about the Midcoast economy.

Camden — A recent presentation at Camden Rotary Club highlighted constructive business responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and looked ahead toward the region’s post-pandemic economic challenges and opportunities.

Camden National Bank’s President and CEO, Greg Dufour said adapting to change during hard times is nothing new to banks, so Camden National Bank faced the challenges presented by the pandemic emergency with a spirit of reinvention. The bank supported a dramatic shift to online banking among all age groups, seeing a 23% increase in digital banking logins and 41% growth in accounts opened by customers online in 2020 vs. 2019. It also sought ways to help two distinct groups of customers: those under significant economic stress due to the pandemic and those who are thriving.

Like many other organizations, the bank will need to make new adjustments once the pandemic ebbs by tackling important questions, such as these: Since people can work and shop when and where they want, how many will return to bank lobbies, company offices, and brick-and-mortar stores? How will businesses and other organizations adjust as people return (or don’t) to physical structures? How can leaders and employees socialize, mentor, and serve as role models for each other? How can individuals attain the technical skills they will need for the future? And how will leaders’ roles change to keep pace with technological and organizational change?

As for the Midcoast economy, Dufour addressed four key questions:

Our workforce is strong, but is it large enough?

“We have a great workforce here in the Midcoast and in Maine. But when businesses with a significant workforce come here to relocate, the biggest question they ask me is, ‘How do you find workers, and how do you maintain them here?’ That’s certainly one challenge that we need to talk about as a community.”

The availability of workforce housing

The availability of workforce housing is crucial in this regard, said Dufour: “This has been a major topic since I moved to the area 20 years ago, and it’s been challenging. I believe we need to gather four groups together to talk about this: developers and builders, community members, financial services companies, and (potential) homeowners. We’ve had a lot of conversations with these first three groups, but we may not be reaching out to the people that will want workforce housing, so we can understand their needs – for example, someone who is 25 years old and trying to buy their first home.”

Quality of life

We have a great quality of life, but is it better than other areas? “Midcoast Maine is a fantastic place to live, but people have a lot of latitude these days. We’ve seen that as people leave big cities for smaller cities and more rural towns, they have a lot of great options across the country. In order to attract them, we need to define the value proposition for our area specifically.”

Infrastructure

Our infrastructure is good, but is it enough for the future? “In terms of infrastructure, broadband has been a key focus, and it’s extremely important, but we also can’t lose sight of other parts of the infrastructure in a community, including childcare — especially before and after school. We also need to look at public transportation in our region, as we have limited taxi services and ride-sharing opportunities.”

Are we aligned to grow our economy and local business? “We need to have all our constituents — whether they’re business leaders, elected officials, community leaders, or community members — define what we want together. Business investment will go where people want it to go, so we need to make sure we’re projecting the message that we want businesses and the economy to grow here.”

A complete recording of Dufour’s talk is available from the club’s library of recorded presentations at www.camdenrotary.org.

 

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