VERNON TOWNSHIP, NJ - Members of the Vernon Economic Development Committee met together on Monday, March 4, to discuss and share ideas for the small business owners of the township.

A “buy local” campaign is the primary focus for the members of the committee who are: 
Elmer Platz - Solutions - 3-5 Options
Teresa Vihti - Recruiting Efforts
Gloria Frato-Gallo - Project Manager - plan/actions/timeline
Eddie Dunn - Government Advocacy and Role in campaign
George Nikanorov - Marketing & Social Media
Art Alviene
“We get excited,” said Dunn. “This is about our civic pride and helping our community.”
Vihti presented the committee with a campaign called, “Independent We Stand” which she states is, “a movement that is catching up all throughout the country to get out the word to shop locally.”

Vihti explained some background on the campaign and pointed out that, “If you or a family spent $10 a month locally, $9.3 billion would be put back into our community nationally.”
“Local business people can become members of this organization,” said Vihti, which would entail a member subscription fee of $99, however, the local businesses would show up on the Independent We Stand website’s directory listing.
Vihti thinks this will be a good idea and could be used for tourists who come to Mountain Creek and are looking for food or shopping in the township.
“It is a really good way to attract new businesses if they know they already have a network in place,” said Vihti.
Nikanorov, who was absent at the meeting due to a surgical procedure, was teleconferenced in,nand voiced his opinion and future goals.
“It is about analyzing a plan on the social media front and having people shop at your local businesses,” said Nikanorov.
The Vernon Economic Development Committee currently has a Facebook page of 68 followers so far.
Nikanorov would like to advertise the local businesses via the Facebook page to “develop an outreach program and to attract the local consumer to shop locally.”
“It will secure Facebook promotions and we also get publicity to get more followers and actively promote them within the EDAC Facebook page,” said Nikanorov.
There is the possibility of once someone follows the Facebook page, the visitor may be eligible to get a five percent off total for the advertised business.
According to the committee’s outline the future state of creating the right business environment is: promote existing businesses with a directory, leverage constituency of supporting organizations, attract new businesses and help seed start-up of campaign with sustainable/repeatable model.
The next steps for the committee are: Discuss and agree on above actions in priority order set to a timeline, integrate with overall project plan with the rest of the team, and review and garner support of mayor and council with an active engagement.
The committee is also in the process of looking at different Android and Iphone interfaces to develop a smartphone app for the township.

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