If you search the internet for Cornish, ME, along with the town page, TripAdvisor, and a Wikipedia page, the Cornish Association of Business comes up as one of the top listings for visitors and locals to peruse. For travelers, this is a great resource to find things to do when choosing Sacopee Valley as a destination. For residents, this is one of the first places to look for contractors and other services in the area. The website, which is currently undergoing a bit of a facelift and is expected to be completed next month, is a starting point for many that rely on information in this modern age, and it is just scratching the surface of what the Cornish Association of Business, CAB, offers as part of this community.
Over the last year as a new resident, I learned that CAB is present in many important details that make the town of Cornish what it is. I first heard about the Cornish Apple Festival from someone who lives upstate but comes every year. Aside from the Apple Festival, CAB members and volunteers organize 3 other town festivals that bring people to the area. They get together to paint the crosswalks and to maintain the information booth and the bathrooms in Cornish Village. Everything they do is on a volunteer basis, simply because that’s what seems to be the spirit around here.
Last year, CAB had to say goodbye to their President and Vice-President and welcomed Patrick Harrigan, and Cristina Forsyth both of Porter, ME to fill the roles in 2019. I met with them to discuss what this change means for the non-profit and the communities that it serves.
CAB was designed to promote business not only in Cornish, but also in the surrounding areas; to support their efforts, and to support its community. “You can liken it to a Chamber of Commerce," explains Patrick, “Primarily for businesses, but anyone can volunteer and help out.”
Patrick, who is a realtor with the Masiello Group, is a worker bee with a problem-solving outlook to life. He is pumped to step up to the opportunity and recognizes that under previous leadership, the association had done a phenomenal job, so there’s much slack to pick up. Patrick hopes to approach this challenge by paying attention to people’s opinions, listening, staying focused, and working together as a group get things done. He hopes to reach more than just business owners and wants residents to get involved as well.
There are many ways that we as a community can help with that:
"For festivals, we need volunteers to help set up & move picnic tables, direct traffic. When we have a good group of volunteers it only takes 30 minutes to an hour.” Patrick Harrigan
In 2018 the Christmas in Cornish festival saw significant growth and had more than four times the amount of children show up. It was fun, and fun to be a part of. Not without growing pains, there was quite a bit of disappointment when the lights on the Christmas tree in Thompson Park did not go on. Thankfully, local businesses like The Inn at Cornish, Perkins House, and Finding the Puddles gathered together and made a Christmas miracle happen and in the end, there were lights! This is the kind of community involvement Patrick and Cristina would like to foster, and not just in times of crisis. When asked if there will be lights next year, Patrick promised: “Over a million lights!”
"I love Patrick's enthusiasm! His attitude is always positive, he listens to what our members have to say and respects that the folks in this area hold tight to a lot of traditions. He is the right person to lead this group." Cristina Forsyth
Cristina was raised in the area and joined CAB in 2012. She has been a board of directors member since 2013. Working with other Chamber's of Commerce and helping small businesses grow is Cristina’s specialty. Her business, Bustle & Grow, specializes in just that. “Cristina has roots here - institutional geography, community knowledge, and respect for the history [of this region.]” says Patrick Harrigan. Her goals this year include CAB's outreach to businesses in Sacopee Valley, not just Cornish.
One of the group's initiatives for 2019 will include a rebranding, and slight name change to "Cornish Area Businesses", in an effort to be more inclusive of the surrounding towns. Any business is welcomed to join as long as a commitment to growing and enriching their communities is part of the mission.
To do that, Cristina and Patrick are looking for new ideas and would love to hear from the public to tell them how CAB can help them, and their communities, to be successful. They both agree that the organization belongs to all members equally, and it is extremely rewarding when participation is high and various people collaborate and strive to grow together.
CAB's next meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, at 6:00 PM. The upcoming Strawberry Festival and crosswalk painting will be on the agenda, so come and meet your friends at the Cornish Association of Businesses. Ask questions, offer ideas, volunteer. People are also welcome to email the group: email@example.com
By: Dasha Smirnova
Originally published Feb 21, 2019, on Sacopee Valley Community News, Etc.
Editors note: This interview took place about a week before Patrick Harrigan suffered a major cardiac event, and miraculously survived. You can read more about his story here. For the time being, while Patrick is recuperating, Cristina has stepped in as acting President. This article was published with Patrick's permission, and he will be back to lead CAB again soon!