LACONIA — Considering the fierce and varying headwinds battering local businesses over the past four years, it wouldn’t have been surprising to hear that many establishments had to close. In fact, what might be the most surprising outcome of all is the one that actually transpired. When the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce convened on Wednesday for its first in-person annual meeting since 2019, it did so with its highest membership in recent history.

The businesses that had to close, perhaps forced to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by supply chain disruptions, unpredictable cost volatility and general concern over what was coming next, were few. However, said Karmen Gifford, president of the chamber, the businesses that survived did so through adaptation. The business that operates in exactly the same way as it did four years ago is the rare exception.

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