Borough Business Organization Seeks Revitalization
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Midland Park Chamber of Commerce is alive and well, although not as active as it used to be, reports Chamber president Chris Rossi. Midland Park Press sat down with Rossi in his office at Eastern Insurors to discuss the challenges the Midland Park Chamber faces in a down economy.
Rossi, who has served as president of the local business organization since 1993, said membership has declined over the past decade as several active Chamber members retired from business or were forced to close due to the poor economy. As many of these small businesses closed, they were replaced by big chain retailers, who aren't as interested in being a part of the local business community.
Rossi remembers a time in the not-too-distant past when monthly Chamber meetings were regularly attend by 50-plus members. Today, total membership is between 30 and 40 members. In its heyday, the Chamber was more involved in community events. Rossi said the group organized and raised funds for the renovations of Veteran's Park in the Wortendyke section of town and also hosted the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Veteran's Park in the Wortendyke section of town.
Even in better economic times, the Midland Park Chamber faced challenges. Shops and businesses are spread across town in clusters — the Midland Park Shopping Center, the Brownstone Mills, Godwin Avenue in the center of town and another strip at the west end of town, the strip on Prospect Avenue and the Central Avenue business district. The lack of a centralized business district makes it difficult to plan events in one part of town as businesses in another section are left out.
In retrospect, Rossi points to the closing of Steve's Wortendyke Inn as the beginning of the Chamber's decline. The group held monthly breakfast meetings at the restaurant, and after the business was sold, the Chamber hasn't found another place quite like it. Breakfast meetings were held for a while at Nativity Church, but attendance started dwindling. The Chamber held a few after work get-togethers, but overall interest from the business community wasn't there.
Still, the Chamber remains hopeful that it can regenerate over the coming months. The emerging home-based business market is one area of potential growth for the organization as it looks to restructure its offerings to include new technologies, such as social media training and support and mobile-based web applications. In addition, the renovation of the new Ambulance Corps building, which will include a community meeting room upstairs, serves as a possible solution of a gathering space.
Anyone who is interested in joining the Chamber can fill out the 2013 Application and mail along with $65 annual dues to:
Midland Park Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 267, Midland Park, NJ 07432.
For more information, contact Chris Rossi at 201-445-0100x11 or email email@example.com.