EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - What do organic mushroom farmers, bankers, fitness experts, chiropractors, contractors, and hummus-makers have in common? If they work in East Brunswick, they have all expressed interest in becoming part of a focused local business community.
The first meeting of the newly-formed East Brunswick Chamber of Commerce will be held at the Colonial Diner on Route 18 on July 20 at 8:00 am. For the past few years, East Brunswick has had neither a Chamber nor a Municipal Alliance to bring the business community together with a common focus. As redevelopment rolls out on Route 18 and small businesses are being supported through the SHOP EB program, Township Economic Development Officer Jonathan Sternesky sees the rebirth of a business alliance as vital to the success of re-visioning East Brunswick for the future and maintaining success where it exists in town.
On June 13, Sternesky called a meeting of business owners and merchantsto go over the potential creation of a business trade organization. The group had a solid turnout and addressed several issues. In a message to the group, Sternesky said, "We are not done with the decision making process, not by a long shot. The framework of the direction has been set, but the details must still be fleshed out."
"The first decision was that we would begin the formation of a Chamber of Commerce, and at some point would look to hire a part-time Executive Director to organize events, coordinate the creation and distribution of materials, and solicit new membership. The reason for hiring a paid staffer is simply that you are all busy running your businesses and taking care of your families. Eventually when the novelty wears off, the lion’s share of the work often falls to a small group of active members. When those members can no longer participate at the same level, the organization quickly falls apart. This is what happened with the prior Business Alliance. Having someone who is paid to do the day-to-day will ensure that this issue does not arise," continued Sternesky.
"The administration’s hope is to empower the business community through this endeavor. You will be able to build a more cohesive community in working with town hall, develop cross promotional opportunities, network, hold professional development forums, and elevate your stature in the community. The sky is the limit on this, but it will come down to simply how active you wish the Chamber to be. The administration will help launch this effort and then allow the business community to direct and grow the organization as they see fit. We will continue to participate and assist how we can, but the business community will steer the organization and make the decisions for it," said Sternesky.
He continued to describe the Chamber's need to raise capital to create events and connections tha foster greater community cohesion and mutual support.
"We are going to need people to step up and volunteer to get this officially launched. It will involve some work and time to start the incorporation process, begin filing, applying for nonprofit status, laying the groundwork to raise startup capital unrelated to membership dues, planning early events, and working on both a charter and by-laws before the July meeting. The way I see it, these early volunteers will become the inaugural board of directors, as they will be the ones signing the application and incorporation paperwork. If this is something that interests you, please email so we can arrange a time to chat. I am hoping to have a mix of people who have been through this process in other towns or who have experience with the old chamber and people who are newer to the business community so that we can build a diversity of ideas going forward," offered Sternesky
He invited interested parties to join the group to find out more information and to participate as deeply as possible to attend the first meeting at the Colonial Diner next month. Members at this meeting will ratify the charter and by-laws, which will in-turn enumerate everything from the organization’s mission to the rate for due and the board and Executive Director’s job descriptions.
The membership will also vote on other details such as banking and a master schedule of potential events to pursue the organization’s mission during the first year. Depending on interest and the decisions, the group can look to create subcommittees to lead individual events or aspects of governance.
Here is the contact information:
Economic Development Officer
Township of East Brunswick
1 Civic Center Drive
East Brunswick, NJ 08816