By Monmouth County Freeholder Director Tom Arnone
Believe it or not, the holidays are upon us. We’ve been extremely fortunate as the weather has been mild thus far, allowing many of us to continue to enjoy the outdoor activities we love to do throughout our beautiful county – from the beaches and parks, to local tree and menorah lightings, to shopping in our beautiful downtowns and local shopping centers.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to shop local, I encourage all of you to do some this holiday season when buying gifts for your loved ones. This past weekend was Small Business Saturday and I was happy to visit several small businesses in the region, including Asbury Park, Long Branch, and Freehold area. We were pleased to see these businesses thriving on that start to the holiday shopping season, as well as the crowds we saw on the bustling sidewalks throughout the downtown areas. Please visit a small business in your community and support them by purchasing their goods or services.
It’s a proven fact that independent and locally-owned businesses recirculate more revenue locally. The spending done by a local business to operate (including inventory, utilities, equipment and salary to employees) directly impacts the economy within our own community. In addition, the indirect impact happens as employees and business owners spend their income within our local economy, recirculating dollars through their earned money.
The economic impact made locally happens in so many levels, to break it down – for every $100 spent at a local business, approximately $68 stays in that community’s local economy compared to only $43 if you shop at a large business. In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs, as you are literally helping your neighbors and their families when choosing to do so.
We’ve made is easy for you to do your holiday shopping close to home this year with the 2016 Made in Monmouth Local Holiday Shopping Directory that is available on the Monmouth County website at www.VisitMonmouth.com. This easy to use, online shopping guide has links to makers and sellers of all sorts of products and gift ideas that are made right here in Monmouth County. The interactive directory includes only Monmouth County small businesses that produce products within the County that have participated in Made in Monmouth.
There is tremendous variety in the directory, everything from beautiful handmade children’s products to wine made from grapes grown and fermented in Monmouth County to art and jewelry for every budget and occasion to gourmet foods and candies. Every vendor listed in the directory makes unique consumer products in Monmouth County, you will find something for everyone on your list—including your pets!
In addition, if you’d like to see some of these small business owners in person, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders in partnership with Manalapan Township Committee is hosting a mini “Made in Monmouth” with 80 vendors on Sunday, December 4, Noon – 5 pm, in the ballroom of Covered Bridge, 1 Covered Bridge Drive, Manalapan. For more information, call (732) 431-7470 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Another exciting new service I think you should take a look at is the “Grown in Monmouth Christmas Tree Farm Directory”, an interactive guide with information about the 13 tree farms right here in our County which is also available on the county website or on the growninmonmouth.com page as well.
Supporting small businesses allows them to hire employees, most of which are also local residents. It comes as no surprise that hiring local and keeping jobs in our county is very important to me, which is why I led the initiative to pass a resolution for a memorandum of agreement between the county and Monmouth-Ocean County Building and Construction Trades Council (AFL-CIO). This will allow us to hire temporary personnel on specific projects when needed. It makes financial sense for the county and it ensures that we are providing employment for our local union workers. With this deal in place we do not have to go through the timely (and sometimes costly) process of going out to bid for emergency work as we can now reach out directly to the trade union for projects that require one or several days of temporary work and get immediate personnel to get the job done quickly and stay on schedule. This agreement gives us the ability to reach out for assistance in unprecedented emergency situations, similar to the work that was required after Superstorm Sandy. This by no means will replace county employees in anyway, it will supplement our current county workforce to preform projects that would normally be done in house so our crews can continue to perform their preventative and maintenance to county facilities and property. We will continue to bid work for projects as we have done in the past and therefore I believe this is a win-win for all those involved.
Thank you as always for your support and dedication to making Monmouth County a great place to live and work. I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season!