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What is the Maine Corner Store?

Back when small business in Maine was strictly local, every town had a place where people gathered to talk about what was going on in their world. It could be an old-fashioned country store or a coffee shop, a local barbershop or garage, the grange or a fish pier.

Today, small companies do business far beyond their hometown, and are affected by rules, regulations, prices and trends from Augusta, Washington and beyond. The Maine Corner Store brings a common-sense perspective on these issues to an online venue, in an atmosphere of coffee-shop camaraderie. We invite small businesses from all over Maine to gather here to learn from each other, talk with business experts, and find ways to overcome and take advantage of legislative policies.

The key “departments” you’ll find at Maine Corner Store are:

  • Policy Blogs by our advocacy experts and what we’re doing to represent your interests;
  • HR Blogs by representatives from the Maine State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), which works to advance HR professionalism and serve its practitioners through seven chapters statewide and the Diversity Hiring Coalition;
  • Profiles of small business case studies, as well as the programs and services of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce; and,
  • Member Forum where you can swap stories, share tips, and ask questions of your fellow entrepreneurs.

Blog Bios

Dana F. Connors
Maine State Chamber of Commerce
As the leader of the state’s largest and most diverse business association, Connors dedicates his energy to enhancing prosperity for all Maine people. He oversees the Chamber’s broad range of activities: advocacy efforts, economic development initiatives, international trade opportunities, and a wide variety of member services on behalf of the state’s business community.

He began his career as the city manager of Presque Isle for 16 years, an unusually long tenure for municipal government, then spent 10 years as commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation, serving two administrations and achieving several key outcomes: successfully implementing the Sensible Transportation Policy Act, expanding the role of the Maine Local Roads Center, instituting Total Quality Management at the MDOT, and increasing funding for the department to an all-time high for project advertising.

A Maine native, Connors received his B.A. in Public Management from the University of Maine. Among the many boards and commissions on which he serves, he has also been appointed by the Governor to serve on the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and the State of Maine Governor’s Business Roundtable for Early Childhood Development. Other boards he currently serves on include Maine Economic Research Institute; Maine MEP; Florida MEP; Ironwood Advisory Council; and, Maine & Company. Connors has also received numerous awards for service and leadership to the state of Maine throughout his career. 

Peter M. Gore
Vice President for Advocacy and Government Relations

Maine State Chamber of Commerce

Gore directs advocacy and government relations efforts and represents the interests of Chamber members before the Maine Legislature, the Governor, various state agencies, and the public on a variety of issues: workers' compensation law, labor/management issues, health care policy and more.
He joined the Chamber staff in 1994 as a senior governmental affairs specialist. Since 1996, he has served as the Chair of the Workers' Compensation Coordinating Council, and on a number of other boards and commissions. He is a graduate of the University of Maine at Orono, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and a minor in Sociology.

Ben Gilman
Senior Governmental Relations Specialist
Maine State Chamber of Commerce

Gilman brings to the Chamber a unique combination of experience in environmental and energy lobbying and, since 1995, politics. He spent the last two years as Director of Government Affairs for the Maine Energy Marketers Association (formerly Maine Oil Dealers, with an unpaid leave in the first half of 2010 to manage Steve Abbott’s primary campaign for Governor.
He previously worked as Director of Outreach and Economic Development for Senator Olympia Snowe; Director of Government Affairs for Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine; and as a Legislative Aide to the Maine Legislature. In 2008, Ben was the Executive Director in Maine for the Republican National Committee coordinating candidates for federal office.
Ben is a graduate of the University of Maine with a BA in Political Science and the University of Maine School of Law with a J.D.

Melanie A. Baillargeon
Director of Communications
Maine State Chamber of Commerce
Melanie A. Baillargeon serves as the Director of Communications for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, a position she has held there since late 1999.  Hired by the Chamber in 1995, she initially served as its Communications Assistant. With a major in commercial art and a minor in communications, Baillargeon received her bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame College in 1993.  She has previously served on the board of directors for the Maine Public Relations Council and participated in similar professional groups.


Additional Blog Contributors

Linda Caprara

Director of Grassroots Advocacy
Maine State Chamber of Commerce

Linda Caprara joined the Maine State Chamber of Commerce on January 6, 2008, and serves as the director of Grassroots Advocacy. She has an extensive background in legislative affairs and grassroots organization.

Previously, Caprara held the position of director of Government and Public Affairs at the Maine Pulp and Paper Association since 1993, where she coordinated five of the association’s six policy committees including government affairs, taxation, communications, forestry, and safety. She also represented the industry on a variety of issues before the Maine Legislature, and organized all of the association's grassroots events and worked on several referendum campaigns.
Caprara is a graduate of Saint Anselm College, with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology. She attended Central Connecticut State University for additional studies in taxation and accounting and is a graduate of Connecticut School of Broadcasting.

Joyce M. LaRoche
Vice President of Membership & Marketing
Maine State Chamber of Commerce

Joyce LaRoche currently holds the position of vice president of Membership & Marketing for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, and executive director of the Maine State Chamber Purchasing Alliance, Inc. Prior to joining the Chamber over nine years ago, she managed customer relations in the telecom industry, and previously enjoyed a career in safety management for many years. She is active in local and statewide organizations and currently serves as an officer on the national board of the Association of State Chamber Professionals. 

Pearl Ivey, SPHR, MA
Co-Director, Maine SHRM Government Affairs
HR Generalist, Mölnlycke Health Care Maine
Pearl works at Mölnlycke Health Care Maine, a global manufacturer of single use medical devices, located in Brunswick and Wiscasset, Maine. A Maine native, Pearl also works as adjunct instructor for the Business department at Central Maine Community College, has been a Maine Associate Real Estate Broker for over 20 years, and is a small business owner.

Pearl has earned the SHRM certification Senior Professional of Human Resources (SPHR), degrees in Business Management (AA), along with Organizational Systems and Leadership (BS, MA) from the University of Southern Maine. She served on the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA), 2011 (the highest US public/private award for Quality Performance) and currently serves as the Co-Director for the Maine Society for Human Resource Management, Government Affairs.


Information on this site is intended to provide guidance, not legal advice. Since exact language and definitions of key terms are critical to understanding the requirements of legislation, rules or laws, we encourage you to read each carefully. Articles, blogs, and information offered here may be reprinted with attribution given to “the Maine Corner Store, a program managed by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.” Please address comments to Melanie Baillargeon, director of communications, by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 110, or by emailing



July 2015