LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston Chamber of Commerce (LACC) officially elected and swore in its new president and board of directors on Thursday at its annual “Breakfast with the Mayor” at Nero’s Grille, where Mayor Shawn Klein introduced himself and his plans for 2017 to members of both the business community and the public.

Following an invocation by Rabbi Cliff Kulwin of Temple B’nai Abraham, outgoing LACC president Monte Ehrenkranz officially passed the torch to incoming president Ira Drucks.

“Thank you all for helping me over the last three years as president of the chamber,” said Ehrenkranz. “As a chamber member myself, I’ve done business with a lot of people in town, people have done business with me, and that’s what we’re all about. The Chamber of Commerce is networking amongst each other in Livingston and keeping business in Livingston and we do a good job of that in this town.”

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Klein, who was born at Saint Barnabas, went through the public school system and is now raising his family in Livingston, spoke of township as a great place to do business and of the council’s intention to keep it that way.

“When I talk to my friends in Roseland, Essex Fells and Short Hills, they tell me they come to Livingston to shop,” he said. “It tells you that Livingston is a destination—people come here to do their shopping. When you grow up here and shop here, you may not realize that, but it’s true.”

Although Klein said Livingston had a tough few years with many vacancies throughout town, he said 2016 was a good year for Livingston’s businesses—with 26 ribbon cuttings, the beginnings of construction of a new development at the Livingston Circle and a healthy 4-to-5-percent vacancy rate. He also noted that 2017 could be even better, with new assisted living facilities, a new hotel and restaurant coming to the mall, RWJBarnabas’ new pavilion and more.

Klein also spoke of a few long-term goals, like making the township as “walkable” as possible; combining parking lots for more parking spaces and less road congestion; and creating a mobile application for the township that will ultimately benefit the local businesses.

“If the town is walkable and the stores and services are excellent, people will be spending their money here,” said Klein. “If we have a walkable town, there will be less cars on the road and less traffic will make the trip down the road a better experience, which takes away impediments to using your businesses.”

Klein was available throughout the event to meet and greet his guests and answer any questions they had. To learn more about Klein’s goals and initiatives for the year, see his video interview with TAPinto Livingston HERE.

Chamber board members for 2017 include Jan Press from Jan Press Photo/Media, who chaired Thursday’s event, executive director Beth Lippman, Gella Seiden from Coldwell Banker, Bea Chaklin from NJ Mortgage Lenders, Ira Drucks of Drucks Agency (medicare), Margie Heller of RWJBarnabas Health, Marie Bennett, Jessica Marrone-Parkes of TAP into Livingston, Daniel Blue from Livingston Bagel, Dr. Ralph Santonastaso, chiropractor, Michael McMane of Key Group Wealth Management, Punam from Berkshire Hathaway, Louis Urban from Bernheim Apter Kreitzman Memorial Home, Jodi Solotoff from PIP Prining, Mary Ann Beltz of Valley National Bank, and Monte Ehrenkranz of Regal Bank.

Many dignitaries were also in attendance including Deputy Mayor Ed Meinhardt, Councilmen Rudy Fernandez and Al Anthony, Interim Town Manager Russ Jones, Township Clerk Glenn Turtletaub, Livingston Board of Education Member Ronnie Konner, Cpt. Gary Marschuetz, Fire Chief Chris Mullin, Planning Board Vice Chair Richard Dinar, former mayors Arlene Johnson and Steve Santola, and more.

The next chamber event is a “dine and donate” at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza on Feb. 9 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. benefitting Fly Red for Heart Disease and the next resource breakfast is on Feb. 16 at 8 a.m. Mission Fitness. Members and non-members are welcome to attend both events.

To RSVP, email Beth at info@livingstonchambernj.com