New Groups Mean Business In Filling Residents' Needs – Jersey Shore Online

  MANCHESTER – Between the formation of an Economic Development Advisory Committee and Chamber of Commerce, focus is being put on growing new and needed businesses for residents.
  Both bodies are looking to entice new businesses to come into Manchester with the idea of providing their services, and bring in ratables to new and existing properties.
  Mayor Robert Hudak said the goal of the Economic Development Advisory Committee is to see what’s needed in town and help bring them in.
  “I’ve had some discussions with Aldi, and talked to Lydl and some of these other retailers about coming into Whiting. I know at the Whiting Commons Shopping Center in the next few months an application will be coming in for some restaurants to the area. I’ve also discussed with a developer the possibility of a car wash located in Whiting,” he said recently to a meeting of the Manchester Coordinating Council.
  Whiting Commons was also the site for the first Christmas In the Pines event which served to showcase businesses in the township and those in Whiting in particular. This was sponsored by the newly formed Manchester Chamber of Commerce which is headed by Robert Arace. He told The Manchester Times that this event, while hurt a bit by some winter wind conditions on the day it was held, was successful and will return this year. “We had about 300 plus people show up and we had a tremendous amount of feedback from the vendors and the community and they want that event to continue to happen.”
  Arace said “in talking to a lot of business owners over the last several months we are starting to get a sense that there wasn’t much of a business community or networking opportunities and they kind of felt they were out there alone.”
  “COVID had just happened and it really hit them very hard,” Arace said. He noted that in both the eastern and western sections of the township businesses have had their struggles. “In the Whiting town center, you get a sense that businesses were obviously struggling and that no one had their back so ultimately a number of people in the community like Judy Noonan who I done tremendous work with have petitioned for Aldi’s and a Lydl’s (grocery) store.”
  “Ken Grasso is a well-known name in Whiting and he’s also done a tremendous job working with us. The Chamber and my team are putting together a survey to find out what people want and where people ultimately go to grocery shop. That survey was made to give us some footing to convince businesses they can be successful here,” Arace said.
  He noted that many corporation chains put the decision-making process of whether they open a store in a given municipality through a demographic and financial formula. “What this survey does for us shows people where they are spending money today because we know people are spending money somewhere and we ultimately needed to figure out where that was.”
  Arace said he feels the survey will show Manchester shoppers are going 20-30 minutes out of the township for what they need. “They are going to Lacey, they are going to Brick, Toms River. They are doing their grocery shopping elsewhere and we need more restaurants. They don’t feel there is a variety here. This survey will show that we can go to companies and say yes, there is a significant base here, there is wealth beyond the income analysis.”
  Arace added, “we want to make sure we have all that data on our side so we can go out and start advocating on behalf of the community to not only help small business to have our plazas filled but to make some grocery chains realize that they can be successful within Manchester.”
  He said that was ultimately what led to the formation of the new chamber and to show that “there is life here and we want to bring more life into the town. That is how it started. We want to drive people back to these plazas and in particular the Whiting town center. There is life in this parking lot.”
  Arace also noted that the township’s economic development advisory committee and the chamber have similar goals, “By having these two groups coming together, it brings hope and perhaps lights a fire to bring life back to the town.”

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