MORRIS COUNTY, NJ - Free COVID-19 protective gear will now be available to local Morris County merchants, announced the Morris County Freeholders.

Infrared thermometers, a 50-count box of face masks and employee signage will be provided to each Morris County business owner who applies for the supplies, for as long as those supplies last. The gear is intended to help small merchants keep employees safe, protect customers and continue to do business under increasing operational restrictions imposed by the state in response to the pandemic, said the freeholders in a statement.

CLICK HERE to apply

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The Morris County Board of Freeholders proclaimed Nov. 28, 2020 to be “Small Business Saturday” and urged the public to “Shop Small” after the Thanksgiving holiday.

“We will be working with both the Morris County Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce and the Morris County Chamber of Commerce in this effort as we continue our support for small businesses who have been particularly hard hit this year. We also believe the national campaign for Small Business Saturday has a greater significance this year in light of the many small businesses that have closed due to the pandemic,” said Freeholder John Krickus, Chair of the Morris County Economic Recovery Task Force.

The damage COVID-19 has brought to family businesses is still being tallied by economists. But Forbes recently reported an estimated 100,000 businesses have shut down permanently due to the pandemic and related lock-downs.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a nonprofit small-business advocacy group, recently reported that one in five business owners anticipates they will not survive the year if current economic trends continue.

“I fully identify with what these small business owners are going through and what it takes to make a payroll in these times because I am also a small business owner. While I’ve been fortunate, I’ve watched others struggle to keep in business and it hasn’t been easy. I hope we can inspire more people to patronize our small businesses not just on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but all year along,” said Freeholder Thomas Mastrangelo, a board liaison to economic development and the chambers of commerce.

The Small Business Saturday and “Shop Small” campaign were launched a decade ago by American Express to help small businesses and urge consumers to shop within their own communities during the holiday season. More than 80 percent of Morris County businesses have 20 employees or fewer, putting them firmly at front end of the small business spectrum, and one-third of workers here are employed at companies with under 100 employees, according to the latest data available from the Current Population Survey of the U.S. Census.

“On behalf of our members and small businesses throughout Morris County, I would like to thank the county government and the freeholder board for their generosity in making these thermometers and face masks available,” said Meghan Hunscher, president of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and Morris County Economic Development Corporation. “This is especially timely as this coming Saturday, November 28, is Small Business Saturday, which encourages shoppers to patronize local small businesses. With the county’s support, these small businesses will now be full prepared to safely welcome shoppers on this busy day.”

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, New Jersey was home to an estimated 884,049 small, which made up 99.6 percent of all businesses in the state, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Those companies also employed about half of the 3.6 million private sector workers in New Jersey last year. The 2019 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey reported that 95 percent of consumers who shopped on Small Business Saturday last year said it made them want to shop or eat at small, independently-owned businesses all year long, not just during the holiday season.

Nationally, in 2019, consumers reported spending a record $19.6 billion at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday, according to a survey contracted by American Express and the NFIB. On average, for every dollar spent at local small businesses, 67 cents stays in the local community, according to a 2018 survey authorized by American Express and NFIB.

 

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