Post Sandy Business Boom in Belmar – BBP supports growth of local business
While many local residents and visitors perceive Belmar as a summer destination, local business owners are working hard to change this perception. The Belmar Business Partnership (BBP) formed in 2010 by municipal ordinance was established to promote a positive business climate for year round tourism.
Sal Marchese, President of the BBP and owner of Salon Marsal, volunteers to help promote the interests and needs of fellow Belmar business owners. He states “Four years ago Belmar’s downtown had 28 vacant stores. Today, one year post-Sandy, only six vacancies remain”. The BBP was one of the many local organizations to work tirelessly with Mayor Matt Doherty and Belmar’s Tourism Adminstrator Mary Brabazano to rebuild Belmar.
Belmar is an ever increasing business friendly environment. The BBP assists new and established businesses create a sense of community. Business owners can apply for outfit grants provided by the BBP to beautify their storefronts. Mayor Doherty states, “We believe when the downtown offers a welcoming environment people will want to visit year round. This means having a clean and consistent look on Main Street. People like to shop locally, and by providing a welcoming environment we encourage visitors to keep coming back”.
The BBP works closely with Belmar administration, Tourism, and the Arts Council to decorate Main Street during various holiday seasons, and assists with event promotions. Jamie Hardell owner of JLynn Boutique states, “The BBP also coordinates with business owners by helping us identify ways to promote our business during townwide events. When we are able to communicate easily, business owners are more likely to participate because we know how we can support the community and increase our profitability”.
Investors continue to support the vision of Belmar as a year round destination. Freedman’s Bakery on the corner of 8th and Main Street will soon host the areas first microbrewery. More investors are drawn to Belmar because of the BBP’s hard work. Tax incentives are available for new businesses. Dr. Norm Einhorn, a 3rd generation building owner and secretary of the BBP states, “We need active involvement of all Belmar business owners. We’re here to help you and listen to your ideas.”
Rebuilding Belmar is a community effort. Business and building owners are a vital part of the transformation. Local resident Indiana Gaffney states, “Sometimes I forget what we went through last year. The town not only rebounded since the storm, we’re thriving. Downtown Belmar looks even better than it did before Super Storm Sandy”.
For more information or to get involved with the Belmar Business Partnership contact Sal Marchese at http://belmarbusinesspartnership.com
Gina Marcello, Ph.D. is a Professor of Convergent Journalism at Georgian Court University in Lakewood. This article was written with the assistance of students in News Editing.