SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) is pleased to announce that the organization has been awarded a $75,000 COVID-19 Relief Grant from the Main Street New Jersey (MSNJ) Program, one of only 11 New Jersey communities awarded this grant. SOVCA will use a portion of the funds to help seed a grant program of their own, focused on digital marketing. The program will kick off with a digital marketing video seminar and will provide eligible downtown businesses financial assistance as they look to grow a stronger online presence. 

“Social media was already an indispensable component in our daily life and COVID-19 has led to a spike in online media consumption. Businesses that were able to respond quickly and effectively online to these unique times have fared better than those who did not have a strong online presence. The businesses that will survive these uncertain times and continue to thrive afterward are those that remain agile. Our goal is to help our businesses learn how to establish this or improve upon their existing foundation,” said Julie Doran, SOVCA’s Executive Director.

Additional programs will launch as a result of the MSNJ grant money, including new South Orange Gift Cards, sold at the open-air market or online at SOVillageCenter.org. With this new promotion, consumers can buy a $25 gift card for only $20, and spend at participating businesses from January 2021 through March 2021. The program hopes to encourage spending in the first quarter, a typically slower season only further impacted by COVID-19.

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The MSNJ grant funds also helped finance the Open-Air Holiday Market, marketing enhancements and augmented lighting and holiday decorations, all efforts which contribute to the organization’s mission to support a vibrant downtown South Orange.

Residents can contribute to the efforts to support downtown South Orange businesses by purchasing select merchandise at the upcoming Open Air Holiday Retail Markets or by making  a monetary donation via supportdowntownsouthorange.com or through the US postal service to SOVCA, 76 South Orange Ave. #303, South Orange NJ 07079.

“The South Orange Village Center Alliance has been an essential resource for information, inspiration and, most importantly, support during this pandemic. Without their ongoing commitment to keeping our small businesses alive and our downtown thriving, I'm not sure that many of us could have weathered this viral storm as effectively as we have to date,” said Irina Lester of The Local Yarn Store.

“SOVCA has helped my barbershop to keep its doors open during the pandemic,” added Douglass Thomas of 7’s Barbershop. “They gave us lots of information on how to receive funding and gave us plenty of opportunities. I was able to receive a grant from the 1K project which really helped us at our lowest moment.”

“There have been many elements to seeing our way through business during the global pandemic, and without a doubt the support, guidance and activations provided by SOVCA has been one of the most crucial,” said David Massoni of The Fox & Falcon. “From help navigating all of the different rules and regulations, to providing information about grants and loans, but maybe more importantly to constantly pushing a vibrant and fun downtown energy through multiple forms of community engagement.”

 

About South Orange Village Center Alliance

The South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) is a non-profit that is dedicated to making downtown South Orange a vibrant place to live, work and enjoy through events, beautification and advocacy for the downtown business district. SOVCA’s mission is to strengthen the vitality of the downtown business district by supporting existing businesses and attracting new ones to improve the Village’s retail mix; raising funds for improvement and public art projects; producing events that complement existing stores and services; maintaining a clean, safe, and pedestrian-friendly downtown; and helping our governing body manage new development while preserving the attractive architectural legacy of the downtown area. The organization is run by an Executive Director and a volunteer board of directors made up of property owners, business owners, residents and other stakeholders. The organization produces key downtown events, including Taste of South Orange Food Stroll, Downtown After Sundown, Under Cover Music Fest, PlayDay, the Farmers Market and more. For more information, visit sovillagecenter.org