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Shop Burlington County First initiative supports local businesss

Burlington County Freeholder Director Felicia Hopson highlighted the county’s revived Shop Burlington County First initiative and other parts of the county’s coronavirus response on Dec. 2, telling business leaders at a Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey forum that helping residents and businesses through the ongoing pandemic continues to be the board’s primary focus.

Held virtually via Zoom, the “Innovate South Jersey: Regional Economic Perspective” webinar featured a Burlington County update from Hopson, along with similar reports from other South Jersey leaders, according to information provided by the county.

“Now more than ever, it is important for government to assist our businesses as they look to weather the economic fallout the pandemic created. And our Board is committed to using whatever resources we can gather to help them,” Hopson said during her address, citing the Shop Burlington County First initiative.

The program was re-launched by the freeholders earlier in the month and aims to promote small businesses in the county and encourage residents to buy, shop and eat locally as much as possible, according to the statement.

As part of the program, the freeholders are asking businesses to send information, such as their location, hours, specials and history to the board to promote on the county’s social media pages.

“We want to get the word out about all the great restaurants, stores and services in this region and build some buzz around supporting them this holiday season,” Hopson said in her address. “We’re telling people that shopping in their backyards will help their neighbors and South Jersey’s overall economy.”

Businesses interested in participating should contact the Burlington County Public Information Office at news@co.burlington.nj.us.

In addition to promoting businesses, the county continues to offer businesses impacted by the pandemic zero-interest loans of up to $50,000.

“It’s a good deal for our businesses who are struggling with cash flow for payroll, personal protective equipment (PPE) purchases or other capital purchases they need,” Hopson said, according to the statement.

The county also continues to offer COVID-19 testing three days a week at the Human Services Building in Westampton for Burlington County residents and non-residents who work or attend school in the county. Since October, more than 11,000 people have been tested through the county’s program, according to the statement.

Burlington County has also distributed more than 2 million items of PPE equipment to first responders and long-term care providers to better protect the county’s most vulnerable residents. And since March, the county’s Housing Hub has provided services to close to 1,000 individuals, including 500 who have received emergency shelter and another 200 that have received rental assistance, according to the statement.

The assistance helps keep residents safe and secure in their homes, and Hopson said the board is close to finalizing plans to expand the rental assistance program to help more families.

“This is how government can make a difference for our residents when they need their government most, but we cannot stop there,” Hopson said in her address, adding that the board intends to unveil more details about the new program soon.

During the event, Hopson also shared examples of growth and economic development in Burlington County, including the summer opening of the Misfits Market distribution center in Delanco and the start of construction on the long-awaited redevelopment of the old Acme Shopping Center in Cinnaminson.

“New businesses want to open here because families want to live and raise their families here,” Hopson said, according to the statement.

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