BANGOR, Maine — The pandemic put new pressures on businesses across the state as COVID cases rose in Maine.
Business owners have been adapting and finding new creative ways to stay afloat through the pandemic.
Bangor Wine & Cheese owner Eric Mihan said that because his shop is classified as a grocery store, it was easier to stay open as pandemic policies first went into place. The small business owner kicked off curbside pickup and has continued the new feature.
On Wednesday, the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce held its annual business breakfast to recognize its more than 700 members
and all businesses. This year the event was virtual.
"Part of our survival through the whole thing is that your customer base really wanted to make sure that you stayed around," Mihan said.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Deb Neuman said small businesses are a significant part of what keeps communities thriving.
Gov. Janet Mills also spoke to those gathered online.
"Bangor citizens and Bangor businesses should be proud of the way you've come together during this pandemic," Mills said. "Your creativity has kept your doors open, kept your city open, as a destination for travelers, not just for a short time, but for a lifetime."
This year's keynote speaker at the chamber's online breakfast was Dash Davidson, a developer from New York who said that he and his father fell in love with Bangor. They are now redeveloping two historic buildings in downtown Bangor. Both buildings will have higher-end apartment units. Dash said. The Hammond will potentially have a speakeasy.
"People are moving here. It's a growing city, but it has a real good community feel," Davidson said.
He is keeping all the unique features that make the buildings historical, including the brick walls and vault doors.
"This building has a story. It has a history. It's been here for over 100 years, and now with our work, it's not going anywhere," Davidson said.
Both see great potential in the Queen City.
"We are hoping that, like this one, and our other project up the road, we can redevelop them and make them suitable for kind of the modern age," Davidson said.
"There is a lot of energy in the region, in the community, and customers really stepped up to," Neuman said.
Neuman added that some businesses have closed, but others opened during the pandemic. He encouraged residents to shop locally when they can.
"Your money that you spend locally is not only supporting that business, but you are investing in our community," Neuman said.