SOMERVILLE, NJ - An economic recovery task forced le by Freeholder Deputy Director Sara Sooy in collaboration with the Somerset County Business Partnership is leading efforts to develop a post-COVID-19 economy. 

“COVID-19 is an unforeseeable disruptor that is striking the world in many ways. Somerset County, in collaboration with the Somerset County Business Partnership, is spearheading the short-term and long-term economic recovery,” said Sooy, “Our mission is to create an innovative ecosystem and provide businesses of all sizes with the tools needed to flourish.”

A true private-public partnership, members are comprised of county employees, local elected officials and private sector business owners with diverse multi-disciplinary skills.  The task force is concentrating on developing strategies to ensure a sustainable economy for residents, businesses and institutions in the aftermath of the COVD-19 pandemic. At its most recent meeting, members began to identify short-term and long-term challenges facing business owners.

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“The task force will address the immediate challenges that surround us, along with the long-term evolution that businesses of all sizes will face”, said Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson.  “It’s not yet clear what things will look like once we emerge from this crisis, but we know that business systems will be vastly different than they have been. This task force is examining several opportunities that will maintain people’s livelihoods and develop the local innovation economy.”

Two pressing, short-term challenges facing business owners as a result of COVID-19 have been identified by the task force.  The first being the force majeure clause, which can impact contractual obligations for both tenants and landlords under certain circumstances that are beyond their control. The second pressing challenge is the limitations of business interruption insurance when it comes to covering a pandemic. 

A letter describing these challenges has been sent to Trenton to establish a partnership with New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeny and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and get the local and countywide economy back on track.

Although economic recovery from a public health emergency may look different than past disaster response efforts, the Somerset County Business Partnership has extensive experience in executing economic recovery strategies, securing state and federal funding and successfully advocating for policies that benefit our community.  The Board of Chosen Freeholders remains committed to this collaboration with the Business Partnership in an effort to provide information and resources to the business community.

Chris Edwards, president and CEO of the Somerset County Business Partnership, added, “Making these challenges known to our leaders in Trenton is the first step toward restoring our local economy.  We hope that by beginning these discussions now, we can help to prepare business owners within the county to reopen safely.”