Downtown Management Forum: COVID-19 Exchanges

Downtown Management Forum: COVID-19 Exchanges

Downtown New Jersey is providing a series of virtual opportunities for downtown managers, economic development professionals, and public officials to exchange ideas about best practices related to downtown economic development in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Check out the opportunities to interact with your peers below. Also, be sure to reference our COVID-19 Resource Page with rolling updates as new information, policy, legislation, and funding becomes available. 

Table of Contents

Facebook Group

Downtown New Jersey created a safe space for members and partners to exchange ideas about hot topics in downtown economic development. There are currently several feeds related to COVID-19 response.

Please note that you must answer the membership questions to be approved. We want to be sure only “real people” are joining, and we need to know who you are before we will approve your membership. Also, this group is is not intended for individual business owner participation, rather it is meant to be an exchange of ideas between those involved with the management of downtown business districts.

Live Web Forums

Forum #9: NJEDA Phase 2 Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program 

Friday, May 29, 2020
12:00PM via ZOOM

On May 22nd, the NJEDA Board approved an additional $45 million in funding to small businesses from the State’s federal CARES Act allocation. At this forum, Christina Fuentes, Director of Small Business Services at NJEDA will provide more information about eligibility and applying for Phase 2 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program.

To ensure security during the ZOOM meeting, registration is required. Please register at least 30 minutes before the meeting so we can send log in information.

Please note that this session is not intended for individual business owner participation, rather it is meant to be an exchange of ideas between those involved with the management of downtown business districts.

Past Forums

Forum #8: Is Your Downtown Ready to Re-Open for Business? 
Friday, May 22, 2020

Towns should be looking at their ordinances and permitting processes now to ensure they fully support their businesses’ ability to adapt to social distancing expectations. Some communities are looking at street closures, enabling expansion of restaurant/retail into parking lots, relaxing sign rules, revising on-street parking rules to enable pick-up and delivery, etc. Others are also working to revise use restrictions to provide flexibility in filling anticipated vacancies. The discussion was led by Bob Zuckerman, President of Downtown New Jersey with input from Courtenay Mercer, Executive Director of Downtown New Jersey; Nancy Adams, Councilperson in Maplewood; and Stuart Koperweis, Executive Director of Hoboken Business Alliance

Forum Summary>
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Forum #7: Farmers Markets in the New Normal 
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Farmers Markets are a wonderful way to provide residents with fresh produce and unique packaged goods, while also supporting NJ’s farmers and local small business producers of packaged goods. If done right, they can even alleviate some of the anxiety many are experiencing shopping at large grocery stores or struggling to get a delivery slot. At this forum, the discussion was led by two BIDs that began planning early with an eye toward maximizing safety for both vendors and consumers. Rachel Sieg of the HDSID shared the details of their upcoming traditional walk-up market in downtown Jersey City; and Rebecca Hersh shares her experience setting up Main Street Highland Park‘s drive-through market. 

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Forum #6: Open Exchange – Getting Back to Business Safely
Friday, May 8, 2020

Downtown New Jersey has been invited to provide input into the State’s reopening strategies. In preparation for that discussion, we’d like to hear your concerns, ideas, and needs for reopening safely. In this open exchange, come prepared to discuss both the needs for your businesses and for your own operations within the downtown district.

Forum Summary>

Supporting Local Economies Webinar
Tuesday, April, 28

As part of Sustainable Jersey’s Virtual Summit, Downtown New Jersey Executive Director, Courtenay Mercer and NJDCA’s NPP Administrator, Jef Buehler discussed how we can support local business when it’s not business as usual. They explored new strategies to engage the community through the Support Local Economies and Buy Local Program Sustainable Jersey actions.

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Forum #5: Downtown Budgeting Now
Friday, April 24, 2020

The COVID 19 pandemic has left many downtown organizations with budget shortfalls, either from special event cancellations, stalled membership drives or fundraising events that have been postponed. Board members are asking how to we readjust our downtown organization’s budget to deal with these new and changing realities? The conversation was led by Donna Ann Harris of Heritage Consulting Inc., a Philadelphia based firm that works nationally in downtown and commercial district revitalization. Over the years Donna has worked with many Main Street New Jersey communities on board training and development, fundraising and strategic planning. Donna provided insights about the board’s role in financial oversight, and gave some tips about making cuts to your budget if absolutely necessary.

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Forum #4: What’s next for the Retail Real Estate Market?
Friday, April 17, 2020

At this forum we will discuss “what’s next” – how does your downtown recover from economic upheaval, and what can you do now to plan for a time when we’re all back to business? Using global recovery statistics as a backdrop, we will discuss current and imminent downtown retail occupancy conditions, and map out a proactive recruitment strategy to expedite recovery starting in the 3rd quarter. The discussion will be led by Marta Person Villa, NJ Retail Lead and Senior Vice President with Jones Lang LaSalle and a former SID director, municipal administrator, and DNJ President.

Forum Summary>
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Forum #3: Survival Marketing Workshop
Friday, April 3, 2020
Mike Blinder, Founder & President of The Blinder Group, publisher of Editor & Publisher Magazine, and author of Survival Selling Even in the Toughest Times presented his Survival Marketing Workshop on how to market effectively in tough economic times.
 
 

Thank you to TAPinto for sponsoring this forum.

Forum #2: Economic Relief Legislation
Friday, March 27, 2020

At this forum, we were joined by Christina Fuentes, Director of Small Business Services at NJEDA and Erika Calderon, Small Business Legislative Aid from Senator Menendez’s office to discuss programs, policies, and legislation that have passed or are being considered to provide economic relief to downtowns and small business.

Forum Summary>
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Forum #1: Downtown Manager Exchange
Friday, March 20, 2020

At this first forum, there was not a formal presentation. Instead, participants shared best practices and discussed needs. 

Forum Summary>
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