AUGUSTA — Dana Connors, president and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce since 1994, informed the Chamber’s board of directors Friday that he plans to retire from his position as head of the Chamber at the end of 2022. For nearly three decades, Connors has led Maine’s largest business association — overseeing a wide range of advocacy and economic development initiatives, partnerships, and efforts on behalf of Maine’s business community; and a broad variety of programs and services for the Chamber’s network of more than 5,000 members of all sizes and sectors across Maine.
Connors said, “After nearly 30 years with the Maine State Chamber and a career spanning more than 50 years – all of it right here in Maine — the decision to retire from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce was extremely difficult. It has been a tremendous honor and pleasure to serve Maine and Maine’s business community at this level for this long. I feel, however, that the time is right for a leadership change at the Chamber, and I look forward to pursuing new opportunities and spending more time with my wife and family.”
Maine State Chamber Board of Directors Chairperson Clif Greim, president of Frosty Hill Consulting in Auburn, said, “Dana is a great example of a leader who listens, works tirelessly to advance the State’s economic future, and has led the Chamber to represent our members’ priorities in an effective and collaborative way. Dana’s leadership has served us all well and has also allowed him to attract and assemble an outstanding advocacy team and chamber staff. Dana is seen as a valuable resource for legislators and administrations. His positive impact on this State and our collective interests are so very appreciated. Thank you, Dana, I am sure you will be crossing paths with us in the future.”
Connors, a native of Aroostook County, Maine and a 1965 University of Maine Orono graduate, began his career as the city manager of Presque Isle in 1968, a position he held for 16 years. In 1984, he was appointed Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation by Gov. Joseph Brennan and continued as MDOT Commissioner under Gov. John McKernan. Connors served as Gov. Angus King’s transition director before becoming president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce in 1994.
Numerous accomplishments and achievements mark Connors’ tenure at the Maine State Chamber. Highlights include that in his first years leading the organization, Connors, along with then Governor Angus King and Tom McBrierty, the Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) at the time, created Maine & Co., the state’s top entity for business attraction. Connors also has received statewide acclaim for the Maine State Chamber’s Making Maine Work series focusing on key economic issues that encourage investment and economic growth in Maine. As a champion for education, including early childhood learning and career and technical education, the Chamber’s Education Foundation was created under Connors’ leadership.
Connors recently led the Chamber during the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented era requiring unique leadership, advocacy, and communication to help Maine’s businesses navigate the initial phase of the pandemic and the subsequent economic re-opening and ongoing recovery. During this time, Connors was selected by Gov. Janet Mills to serve on the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee to help develop policy recommendations to stabilize Maine’s economy and build the state’s path forward.
Connors has served on multiple boards of directors throughout his career and has received dozens of awards and honors for his leadership and service to Maine, including an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Maine, in 2015. Connors is a highly regarded consensus builder, problem solver, and partner on issues and initiatives important to Maine people and the state’s economy and future. He is a respected and prominent voice on issues including taxation, energy and the environment, education and workforce development, immigration, labor, health care, infrastructure, and more. Connors is known for his commitment to improving prosperity for all Maine people, employers, and Maine’s economy.
The Maine State Chamber’s Board of Directors will soon launch a search for Connors’ successor.