MONTCLAIR, NJ - Members of the North Essex Chamber of Commerce (NECC) gathered at Pig & Prince on Thursday, located in the historic Lackawanna Terminal, for an end-of-the-year gathering.
Founded in 1969 as the West Essex Chapter of Commerce, the networking group became the North Essex Chamber of Commerce in the early part of the 2000s when it added the Montclair Chamber of Commerce into the fold. NECC is now the official chamber of commerce for nine towns in Essex County, including Fairfield, West Caldwell, Caldwell, North Caldwell, Roseland, Essex Fells, Verona, Cedar Grove and Montclair.
Hosts Barbara Ruiz, who serves as vice president for NECC and a client support representative for C3 Workplace, and Kaitlin Kurdyla greeted members and prospective members as they arrived and checked in for the year-end gathering.
"Tonight is our year-end appreciation party and this is our way to thank those who have supported NECC," said Ruiz. "We wanted tonight to be relaxed, where business and community people could meet, network and enjoy an evening of delicious appetizers and beverages."
Sponsors include C3 Workplace, B&B Community Bank, Provident Bank, PSE&G, Rand Feuer & Klein, RWJBarnabas Health and Media Partner TAPinto.net.
"This evening gives us the opportunity to thank the many businesses that have become partners," said NECC President Michael Daniels as he walked around greeting and welcoming each attendee. "In working and becoming involved, not only in opening a business, but becoming involved in the community, our goal is to bring community and businesses together."
One of the NECC's fundraising efforts includes its annual scholarship, which is awarded to high school students that live in NECC's service area. Recipients for 2018 included Joshua Kohler (James Caldwell High School), Ethan Rotman (Montclair High School ), Brendan Powell (Montclair Kimberly Academy) and Sophia Conklin (Mount St. Dominic).
As community partnerships are a major part of what NECC does, the local YMCA and other organizations have had the opportunity of benefiting from those connections.
"The YMCA, in becoming a community partner with NECC, has the opportunity to partnership with local businesses and expand and address other services that include health workshops and a wide variety of community programing that allow the Y to meet the needs of the community where they are," said Desiree Johnson, executive relations director for the YMCA and secretary for NECC.
Prospective members included representatives Manuel Alers and Diana Pombo from Haven Savings Bank, who said they attended because they were considering joining.
"We came representing Haven Savings Bank," said Alers. "Currently, we have nine locations, and of course, looking to expand in becoming a part of the chamber, we can connect with surrounding communities, not only in new businesses, but how can we assist in the communities and become involved."
The current roster for the 2018/2019 list of NECC officers include: President Daniels (Financial Focus Group, Jersey City), Immediate Past President Holly Kaplansky (Minuteman Press, Newark), Exec Vice President Danielle Deptulla (Kearny Bank, Fairfield) , Secretary Desiree Johnson (YMCA of Montclair), VP Finance Julia Tsoy (Smolin Lupin & Co.Fairfield), VP of Membership Ruiz (C3WorkplaceMontclair), VP Programming Kurdyla (The Conference Center at Montclair State Montclair), VP Marketing Chelsea Dodd (Montclair Public Library) and NECC Director Mark Eulie.