Bingo! Wiscasset businesses network via Zoom

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 8:30am

From payroll protection loans to the sale of a local insurance agency, and a possible part in a public access show, Wiscasset businesspeople were abuzz with news and new ideas Thursday night, April 30.

All that and bingo are part of Wiscasset Area Chamber of Commerce’s Thirsty Thursdays, after-hours networking and sociable social distancing on Zoom. “I love it, I think it’s the way to go. And we can see each other, and whether you have pants on or not, it doesn’t matter,” the chamber’s administrative assistant Pat Cloutier got laughs in saying. So did President Chip Davison in adding, they can drink, because no one’s driving. And members admired Karl Olson’s virtual background he said was an option at the bottom of the Zoom screen.

So began about the fourth installment of the event as the business community continues navigating the coronavirus spring. Monique McRae of The First National Bank said she was just in a Zoom meeting at work that had about 206 people in it. “It went really well.” McRae added, the bank has been processing paycheck protection loans quickly – one that got the money into the account in two hours.

Sheila Sawyer announced she was signing her ownership of the agency of Carl M.P. Larrabee Insurance over  to J. Edward Knight. “It’s a good thing, although, you know, it’s sad, too ... Let me assure you, my staff is staying, the location is staying, the name is staying. Sheila’s going to oversee it til the end of the year and make sure everything transitions smoothly because it’s very, very, very important to me,” Sawyer said.

In other discussions, a guest, LCTV Interim Director Larry Sidelinger, said the station is exploring how it might be able to help towns hold virtual town meetings or other annual events the pandemic has impacted. “We’re looking at all these different avenues of how we connect the dots ... of all this virtuality.”

“Well, I can imagine you’re faced with a tsunami of possibilities and interest,” Rust said. 

Sidelinger said the ideas have been many. “But it’s carrying through, and the mechanics of how it would all work, that’s the big thing” the station is exploring, he said.

Sidelinger also shared, the station has added to its website a donation button that appears when someone hits on a show. “We need money just like everybody else does, to survive ... So for the station it’s been a plus. It’s not huge money, but a little money every day is better than no money any day.”

“True,” Davison said.

Members voiced interest in Sidelinger’s invitation for WACC to do a couple of shows a month to add to the station’s Chamber Chat program.

Taking a question from Wiscasset Newspaper, Sidelinger said getting to address the Chamber via Zoom was awesome. “How else in this time of quarantine could you ever get the chance to communicate your message? So this has been a really unique opportunity ... I never would have dreamed we could have done this five years ago.” The station’s board was having a virtual meeting the next night, he added. “We couldn’t (meet) without these.”

Chamber members said they get community out of the Zoom events.