New Long Beach Island Chamber of Commerce ‘Created to Fill a Void’

Apr 24, 2013

Concerns about promoting the revival of Long Beach Island after Superstorm Sandy – and an effort to best support Island businesses in the long term – have led to the establishment of a new LBI Chamber of Commerce, set to hold a formation meeting soon.

“This new chamber was created to fill a void,” remarked Long Beach Township Mayor Joseph Mancini. “This is not to compete with the existing chamber,” he added in reference to the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, a regional organization founded in 1914.

“We’re not trying to exclude anyone; we feel we need a separate entity to help LBI flourish.”

Earlier this year, the mayor explained, township Commissioner Joseph Lattanzi met with Island business owners to find out who would be reopening, and when, and what sort of assistance they needed, “and probably the biggest thing we needed … was publicity. We needed to advertise. The biggest problem is that no one knows we will be open.”

He pointed out a billboard for Sea Isle City at the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel, paid for by the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization, as an example of successful promotion of a Jersey Shore area that many people may assume was too hard-hit by Sandy to reopen by this summer.

Mancini said township officials met with the Southern Ocean County chamber and asked it to pledge money to advertise the Island’s comeback – they’d hoped for $25,000 – but the chamber responded that the money wasn’t in its budget.

Instead, $25,000 from the township and $25,000 from the business community went toward airtime and ads for a commercial featuring the Island – its mayors, businesses and business owners – and designed to spread the word far and wide that LBI is ready for the summer season.

The commercial, available for viewing at longbeachtownship.com and LBIisAlive.com, among other places, was produced for free by Bravo Media Inc. in New York City after executive producer Tim Donovan was contacted by real estate sales associate Kevin Bergin of LBI Realty Group in Ship Bottom.

After the experience of turning to the current chamber for money for this type of endeavor, but coming up empty, said Mancini, “we made a decision: It’s time to open up an LBI Chamber of Commerce” to specifically help businesses on the Island. “We feel we need a better pulse on the community so that when something happens, we can react.”

The call for help in Sandy’s wake came directly from business owners, said Lattanzi. “That’s why we responded.”

Mancini and Lattanzi emphasized that the new chamber is not a municipal entity; it is an organization designed to help businesses on LBI. The Island’s six municipalities, they added, will be represented on the chamber’s board of directors by the mayor or a designee, with maybe 10 or 12 additional members. 

Our goal is to help with the organization, said Lattanzi, but the direction and governance of the chamber will ultimately be guided by the local business owners.

All the Island municipalities are on board with the idea, the township officials noted.

And the organization will not be housed in a building – “No sticks and bricks,” said Mancini – cutting down on costs.

“This is a leaner, low-expense, efficient chamber,” said Lattanzi.

“If we need a physical space, we can use this building,” he added, referring to the township complex.

Business owners must have a business on Long Beach Island, or make their income primarily on LBI – such as a builder or a surfing lessons company – to fall under the domain of the LBI Chamber.

The group plans to hold its initial meeting soon, so that it’s up and running by the time of the LBI Thank You Fest, scheduled for June 14, 15 and 16.

According to Mancini, 90 percent of the chamber’s revenue, to be raised via various events, will be utilized to promote Long Beach Island.

Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

julietkaszas-hoch@thesandpaper.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

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