Local business operators continue to deal with challenges of pandemic

Business owners in Matawan and Aberdeen Township who have survived the first year of the coronavirus pandemic are trying to remain solvent as the pandemic nears the start of its second year in New Jersey.

In an interview, Matawan Mayor Joseph Altomonte said officials do not have or keep records of businesses that close and he said officials are not aware of any businesses that have closed because of the pandemic.

Altomonte said that out of the 291 businesses that registered with the borough in 2020, 28 were new businesses.

“We are aware of the difficulties the pandemic has caused small businesses and that many are struggling. Unfortunately, as a small town, there is no direct financial assistance we can provide,” he said.
“Monmouth County serves as the agency that distributes federal CARES Act support to local businesses … and we have been very happy with the support they have provided,” the mayor added.
Altomonte said that through Matawan’s Economic and Business Development Commission, officials remain in contact with the Matawan-Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce and individual businesses so they can explore ways the borough can offer assistance.
“Over the holidays, we partnered with local restaurants with a promotion called ‘Take Out Week.’ Once the weather permits, we will restart our successful lakeside dining program,” he said.

In Aberdeen Township, Township Manager Bryan Russell said officials believe two businesses have closed since the pandemic struck New Jersey in March 2020.

While the township has not been able to offer any financial assistance to business operators, Russell said officials ran a media campaign in support of Monmouth County’s effort to provide CARES Act business grants.

Russell said 16 businesses have opened in Aberdeen Township since March 2020 and three businesses are in the process of opening.

Matawan-Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce Director Linda Martin said that since 1968, the organization has been dedicated to serving the community and reaching out to new businesses in the area.
“We continue to encourage new businesses to join the chamber and foster the ones that have chosen to be a part of our organization. As stated in our mission statement, our goal is to advance the economic, industrial, professional, civic and cultural welfare of the area,” Martin said.

During the pandemic, she said, the chamber’s representatives have been working to provide members with the latest information that will help their businesses survive during an extremely challenging time.

“Our chamber is a member of New Jersey Chamber Alliance, which is a group of chambers led by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. As a member of the alliance, we are keeping abreast of all the latest information available to businesses.

“The chamber is passing along announcements from government agencies and other groups as we receive them to keep our members, as well as anyone in the community who may have signed up to receive our notices, informed,” Martin said.

The director said the chamber’s goal during the pandemic is to highlight and promote its member businesses to the best of its ability.

“In addition to (providing) updates and announcements that are relevant for our members, we are highlighting up to three member businesses in the Spotlight section of our newsletter, our website and our social media outlets so they can showcase and promote their business.

“Since networking is one of the most important areas for chambers to foster relationships between businesses, we have been holding virtual events and outdoor dining in local member restaurants, weather permitting,” she said.

Martin said the chamber recently started a “netwalking” event so people may walk together on a local trail to network and exercise at the same time. All are welcome to join a “netwalking” event, not just chamber of commerce members.