SOMERSET, NJ - The Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting hosted by the Imperia on May 18, during the meeting the chamber unveiled its new website, new logo, and new President, Juanita Painson. 

The theme of the meeting and the chamber's new tagline is "growing together" which is also its main goal this year. 

"What stands out about the year ahead is our diversity and willingness to bring together multi-sector partners and voices from the community to promote healthy businesses throughout our city," Painson said. "Our membership is changing every month, and I believe that if we want to remain relevant and vital, we must be publicly engaged so that we gain a seat at the table and invite others to sit at our table so we can listen, be heard, and understood. We must start tapping into the talents of or young professionals and our next generation of leaders and decision makers."

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Dr. David A. Glazer, professor, and chair of Berkeley College's marketing department gave the keynote speech and discussed how to take lessons learned from the recession of 2008, and apply them to business decisions of today. 

During the meeting, attendees had a chance to see the unveiling of the new chamber logo and website. When designing the logo, the board was looking to update the logo with a modern look, and the new website is designed to be easier to navigate. 

According to the new website, "A new domain .org to identify our Chamber as a non-profit organization, a fresh look, a new logo, a new member directory and event calendar. New features will be added based on your comments and ideas."

New website --->

Attendees also had the opportunity to network over cocktails and dinner, in addition to learning about the year's upcoming events. 

B-side also played live music:

Councilwoman At-Large, Kimberly Francois greeted chamber members on behalf of the township. 

Francois referred to an initiative she started during her years as mayor of Franklin Township and gave attendees some economic updates, and some words of advice for the board.

The township hired an economic development consultant to conduct two studies: 1) to analyze the business development process 2) to study and give recommendations on how to improve Hamilton St. business district and the township's corporate business zone. 

The council recently hired an economic development director and ground has been broken on some projects.  

"The zoning was recently changed on Hamilton Street and if you walk down the street you'll see two brand new buildings, one huge hole in the ground which will be a new mixed-use building," Francois said. "There are two other mixed-use developments that should break ground this year and several others that are in the process of being approved."

Through the economic development director, the township is hoping to make it easier for businesses to set-up and operate in the township. Professional staff is now dedicated to helping speed up the approval process in hopes to further invigorate business, according to Francois. 

"The chamber should partner with our economic development director and the township's elected officials to hold some roundtable discussions about what the township can do to assist our businesses that we value so much," Francois said. 

Chamber Board member Dr. Peter Stavrianidis spoke about the importance of ensuring commerce flows easily through a community. 

"It makes the community more euphoric not only in goods and services but also in education, wealth, and safety," Stavrinidis said. "Synergy is the way to grow and make our township a truly best choice to live and/or open up a business. The chamber of commerce would be the essential force to create an environment that would be compelling for such a commercial euphoria to take place"

Painson also expressed the importance of helping out the local, agencies that help support the community. 

 "I've had an opportunity to see many facets of our community including individuals within our community with tremendous - and often overwhelming needs - many who rely on charitable and community service organization or support and many of the basic needs of life," Painson said. I'd like to issue a challenge to all Chamber member businesses to rally around projects and agencies that focus on servicing Franklin's neediest and those organizations that provide quality of life services throughout our community. Businesses can help ease some resulting financial burdens through direct support of these organizations or by encouraging and allowing volunteerism by their employees."

New chamber officers and directors were also introduced. 

Chamber Board and Officers
Executive Board Appointments Three Year Terms Board Appointments  Continuing Board Appointments 
President – Juanita Painson 
Robert Jordan Kyle J. Pitts
1st Vice President George M. Conway Jr. 
Phil Mercado Peter Stravanidis
2nd Vice President – Rodney Robinson 
Francesco Prandoni Vincent Dominach
Treasurer – Nancy Topchev 
Peter Schoberl Edward Potosnak
    Nancy LaCorte

Investors Bank and the Financial Resources Federal Credit Union sponsored the event. 

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