METUCHEN – The board and staff of the Metuchen Area Chamber of Commerce have announced a voluntary dissolution by the end of the year.
“This dissolution is not an organizational failure, but rather a retirement,” the board and staff said in a statement on social media and through their email blast (eBlast) on Sept. 17. “There have been changes in our community that challenge the sustainability of an entirely self-funded membership organization committed to supporting the business community. By dissolving now, we can retire in a methodical and organized fashion, passing on funds and critical information to those nonprofits that are willing and able to take on some of our long-standing events and initiatives.”
During the past century, the Metuchen Area Chamber of Commerce has been dedicated to its mission of advancing the civic, industrial, professional and commercial interests of the area. Founded in 1918, the chamber has expanded and contracted its operations in response to changing times – wars, fluctuating economic conditions and global and health crises.
“Since its formal reincorporation in 1950, the chamber has enjoyed decades of strong partnerships with businesses, residents and the local government,” the statement reads.
Mayor Jonathan Busch, on social media, said the borough is “incredibly grateful for the significant contributions that have been made to the borough over the last 103 years by the Metuchen Area Chamber of Commerce.”
“Just to name a few, the Victorian lamp posts downtown, many cultural events, parades, fairs, the gift certificate program, and the famers market, all owe their incubation to the chamber,” he said. “To the countless volunteers, staff and board members who poured their hearts and souls into the chamber’s mission over the years: Thank you.”
Eric Berger, chairman of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance (MDA), said “it is with shock and sadness that the MDA Board heard of the dissolution of the Metuchen Chamber of Commerce which has made so many contributions to Metuchen over the past 70 years.
“MDA appreciates all of the chamber volunteers and staff who have greatly contributed to the development of Metuchen area businesses and the Metuchen community writ large. The chamber will be missed,” he said.
Some of the chamber’s historic accomplishments over decades include leading efforts to plant street trees and install Victorian lamp posts, benches, and planters in the business district; as well as successfully advocating for Metuchen to be included in the exit names for major roadways; fostering and collaborating with local arts organizations; founding and incubating the Metuchen Farmers Market; hosting decades of seasonal fairs, town-wide garage sales and ribbon cuttings for new businesses; organizing and funding sister parades, celebrations, downtown decorations; and shopping promotions.
For nearly as long as there has been a borough, the chamber hosted the Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony until 2019; firmly established monthly summer Cruise Nights events; funneled nearly $300,000 directly into local businesses, with all fees, administration, and costs absorbed by the chamber; donated cash and/or goods to the borough’s many local nonprofits; maintained the “Welcome” signage at Metuchen’s main roadway entrances and
provided leadership and assistance for innumerable observances, events and programs.
Recently, in the years just prior to and then during the novel coronavirus pandemic, the chamber released the Metuchen profile magazine, issued a new edition of Metuchenopoly, launched new events such as Restaurant Week, provided New Resident Welcome bags and shared weekly e-newsletters promoting its members, offered thousands of dollars in direct funds to businesses with Bounce Back Gift Certificate promotions, organized a very successful donation effort for the local hospital’s COVID-19 Response Team, advocated for the establishment of a Business Improvement District; and provided referrals, networking opportunities and notary services.
The chamber board and staff members said the voluntary dissolution would allow them to “leave a legacy that we are proud of by closing our organization at the right time with integrity and dignity.
“We have determined that no one individual factor has overwhelmingly steered our thinking, but that it is the breadth and variety of new and changing conditions that has guided our decisions,” the statement reads.
The chamber will cease new Chamber Gift Certificate sales immediately, but will continue to redeem them for participating member businesses until the end of 2022.
For now, the physical chamber office at 323 Main St. will remain open until the end of the year and the chamber will continue all regular member services and events until Dec. 31, 2021, including scheduled ribbon cuttings, cruise nights, town wide garage sale, and weekly eBlasts.
For more information, visit metuchenareachamber.com.