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The Yankee Express

Samuel Slater Experience hosts first in-person Chamber meeting in Webster

W-D-O Chamber executive board members Chairman Ross Lavoie, Treasurer Brenda Sullivan, Secretary Liz Horgan, and Vice-Chairman Don Bourque.

By Barbara Van Reed
It felt like a family reunion of sorts. For dozens of local businesspeople, the first Webster-Dudley-Oxford Chamber of Commerce live networking event in 18 months saw smiles, hugs and handshakes all around.
The occasion was the Chamber’s Annual Meeting on June 8, usually held in January, but postponed for COVID, like so many other events. 
The setting was the soon-to-be-opened Samuel Slater Experience in Webster, giving attendees a preview of the museum’s exhibits, which tell the continuous story of Samuel Slater’s life from leaving England in 1789 to eventually setting in Webster.  
The museum includes a series of immersive experiences that use a variety of cutting-edge digital technologies that make each visitor a realistic witness and participant in the journey.
The business meeting began with a brief speech by Samuel Slater Experience owner Chris Robert
who remarked that when he began restoration of the building, the 17,000 square-foot former National Guard Armory, four years ago, “it had no power, no water, and no heat, but plenty of asbestos everywhere, in the ceiling, the walls and the floor.”   
The transformation of the space into a “Disney-like” teaching experience will realize Mr. Robert’s vision to give students a history lesson that they will always remember and carry home with them. His goal is to bring students from all around the region to the museum for a day immersed in history, technology, and culture.
Chamber president Ross Lavoie announced the addition of two new programs for Chamber members, each specifically designed for businesses with a small number of employees, one for health insurance benefits and one for retirement benefits.
The Chamber’s executive board was unanimously reelected: President Ross Lavoie of Oxford Insurance, Vice Chairman Donald Bourque of Choice1Graphics, Treasurer Brenda Sullivan of Webster Five, and Secretary Liz Horgan of Nichols College. 
The Chamber also announced two new board members, Lisa Prince of Tri-Valley Inc., and Chad Troyse of Cornerstone Bank. 
Sponsors for the annual meeting were Webster Five and Aubuchon Hardware. Catering was provided by Samuel Slater’s Restaurant.