Photos by Joe Epstein Photography
For more than half a century, the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce has supported local entrepreneurs and businesses, providing contacts, references, and networking opportunities.
Now the chamber is much more than the catalyst for a local meet-and-greet; it’s a strong, relevant voice in shaping policy.
It began seven years ago with a decision to take a somewhat quiet chamber and expand its membership and overall footprint in Hoboken.
Now with roughly 180 members, the chamber has become a vital resource for local and countywide officials, influencing policy for the betterment of the community.
It has helped propel citywide initiatives such as the Washington Street Redesign project and the 2018 Master Plan Re-examination by promoting a unified voice for the business community.
Growth in membership made it necessary for the Hoboken Chamber to become a chapter of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce.
The move was made last summer after a lot of research.
Richard Mackiewicz, president of the Hoboken Chamber, says that without this action, the all-volunteer organization would not stay afloat.
“Everyone who’s a chamber member and leader of a chamber is doing so as a volunteer, and they all have businesses they run,” he says. “They only have so much bandwidth. We did something that hadn’t been done before, and it has provided us with the opportunity to flourish.”
Through this merger, the county chamber will act as a hub, with resources and a paid staff to assist the Hoboken Chamber. “I think you are going to see a greater focus and impact on the dialog between the business community and the government,” Mackiewicz says. “You will now have in place a general manager who will be interfacing and monitoring developments at city hall, who can provide input and guidance to city hall after obtaining and delivering feedback from the business community.”
Maintaining Main Street
The merger also means more opportunities for businesses to interact with each other in a more robust way, because they will have access to a much larger network.
The popular farm-to-table movement is on the rise, with restaurant-goers willing to pay more for locally sourced food. This is a good thing for independent restaurateurs who join the chamber.
That said, why are many shoppers saving mere pennies by patronizing major chains or online retailers instead of your mom-and-pop shop on the corner?
With the ever-increasing encroachment of big box stores and e-commerce, the chamber has become more than just a networking group; it’s an ardent supporter and defender of shopping locally and maintaining citywide vibrancy.
“Take a moment to shop locally, and you will benefit because of the fact that you are assisting a person who you know, getting the product you need, but also enriching the quality of life of your town,” says Mackiewicz, noting that through that purchase you’re ensuring the livelihood of that shop owner and her employees.
Face to Face
“If you have a city in which the business community has left, and downtown is filled with vacant storefronts, no one will want to live there,” Mackiewicz says. “But if there is something there, it energizes the neighborhood and makes you want to make it your home.”
Neighborhood shops have far-reaching benefits.
“In this digital age there is increasing need to be able to be in the presence physically of other people,” Mackiewicz says. “As we become much more ingrained in a digital environment, we need to remember we are social beings, and we need to do things to engage and interact with each other.
“Businesses like your local coffee shops help develop those types of relationships.”—07030