OCTOBER 14, 2014
Business & Home EXPO
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2:00-7:00 PM
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President`s Message

September 2014

I had the opportunity to attend the National Meeting of Chamber Executives in Cincinnati Ohio a few weeks back. It is the largest gathering of Chamber Professionals from all over the world. At a time when so many throughout our country seem to feel that apathy and dis-engagement are winning, I am going to whole heartily disagree. The critical role that Chambers of Commerce play throughout our Country, State, locally and here in Hunterdon County was re-affirmed as I heard and spoke to hundreds of other Chamber colleagues at our meeting.

There are many challenges that face our Business Community in Hunterdon County. These challenges include numerous key employers that have left our marketplace. Increased completion from our neighboring marketplaces, neighboring states and the rise of internet shopping has affected all sectors of industry. A smaller workforce at many of our companies, including large, medium and small employers is prevalent throughout the County. Some of our the best graduates from our high schools go off to college to never return to live and work in our communities they grew up in.

Know you might be saying this sounds critical and quite frankly like a series of situations that we really don’t have any control over. This is where the power of bringing together the most talented and dedicated people to help solve these critical issues is no longer a choice but something we must engage on. The Chamber has been working with the County of Hunterdon on the development of the CEDS, comprehensive economic development strategy that is due out later this month. This is one element in beginning to look at a direction moving forward. The Chamber formed the Business Improvement District in Flemington as a proven solution to long term revitalization and a healthy County Seat.

The hard work that lies ahead to look at these complex issues and implement strategies to change the real tide in our favor is exactly what I see as the way to ensure that our future as a Business Community is filled with the same success we have enjoyed here in Hunterdon County for decades. Over the course of the next several months the Chamber is going to look at ways in which we can bring together those that are interested in beginning to address some of these issues. We will look to work with groups and organizations are already addressing some of these issues and see how to strengthen the collective impact for great success.

As we continue to celebrate the 300th Anniversary of Hunterdon County it is incumbent on all of us to not just consider getting engaged but to step up and gather around the table to ensure the ideals and tribulations of our County, the values of hard work and community continue for generations to come. This is not something we can take for granted any longer, this is not something we can wait for another person to come along and take care of, these issues are our responsibility and we must make progress on. The Hunterdon County Chamber, founded in 1916 is committed to this, it is the core of our mission.

With best regards,

Christopher J. Phelan

President & CEO