2020 Past Events

Liquor License Reform Town Hall

  • Date and time: Friday, December 4th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

With the recent introduction of S2964/A4925, Senator Gopal and Assemblyman Bergen recently joined the chorus of legislators calling for expansion of liquor license laws. Downtown New Jersey and an alliance of organizations, merchants, and public officials believe that now more than ever, reform is needed to help our small businesses survive and thrive during the ongoing public health emergency. But the reasons for reform extend beyond the current economic hardship, reform has long been needed to support small business, enable a more equitable system, and help NJ retain its regional competitiveness. During this Town Hall event, we discussed a path to reform with Senator Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, Assemblyman Brian Bergen, R-Morris, Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, Mayor Shelley Brindle, Township of Westfield, George Constantinou, Mil Gustos Hospitality Group (Miti Miti Latin Street Food, South Orange, NJ), and moderator by Tony Pizzutillo, Pizzutillo Public Affairs. Town Hall Recap & Video>


Reinventing Your Downtown After Economic Upheaval

  • Date and time: Thursday, November 19th
  • Location: NJLM Virtual Conference

The repercussions of the COVID-19 closures will be felt across all sectors for years to come, particularly small businesses that make up the backbone of downtowns. Recovery is going to be a slow process – the goal is not to prevent vacancies; it is to mitigate the impact on your downtown and its remaining businesses. With proactive and sustained efforts by BIDs and local government, downtowns can recover stronger than ever. At the NJ League of Municipalities Conference, we discussed recovery with the Honorable Michele Delisfort, Mayor, Township of Union; Larisa Ortiz, Managing Director, Streetsense; Marta Person Villa, Senior Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage, Inc.; Bob Zuckerman, Executive Director, Downtown Westfield; and Courtenay D. Mercer, Executive Director, Downtown New Jersey (Moderator).


Liquor License Reform Networking Chatroom

  • Date and time: Monday, November 16th
  • Location: NJLM Virtual Conference

Downtown NJ’s Executive Director, Courtenay Mercer, and South Orange Village President, Sheena Collum facilitated a networking session at the League Conference to discuss liquor license reform. Senator Vin Gopal also joined the discussion to share insights about his legislation (S2964).


Downtown Management Forum: Winning Winter

  • Date and time: Friday, October 2th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

We do not anticipate significant indoor capacity increases in the near future; and even if they were forthcoming, many consumers still feel uncomfortable spending extended periods inside public places. With colder temperatures quickly approaching, downtowns should be preparing now to help their small businesses weather the Fall and Winter seasons. Accommodating, and even encouraging, outdoor consumer activities is not anything new – especially to those in colder climes. Your downtown may have even embraced the chill in years past by hosting a Winter Market or Winter Festival. During this forum, we discussed best practices in placemaking to make your downtown inviting and comfortable during cold weather. The discussion was led by Metuchen Downtown Alliance Executive Director, Isaac Kremer, and Storefront Mastery‘s Storefront Ninja, Jaime Izurieta. Forum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Recovery Marketing

  • Date and time: Friday, September 18th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

Downtowns need to start thinking beyond survival mode, and begin setting the stage for recovery. With the likelihood of widespread business failures and elevated storefront vacancy, the focus needs to shift to small business creation. The moment calls for nothing less than a “Retail New Deal” that incorporates a wide array of coalition partners, including district management entities, municipalities, community banks, community development financial institutions (CDFI’s), fin-techs, institutions, foundations and various others. This discussion was led by national retail consultant and Downtown specialist Mike Berne, President of New York City and San Francisco Bay Area-based MJB Consulting, about harnessing creative thinking, collaboration, and adaptability to encourage the timely emergence of new innovations and business models in response to changing realities and unforeseeable shocks. Forum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Recovery Marketing

  • Date and time: Tuesday, August 18th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

We are still a long way from business as usual here in NJ. As communities move into recovery mode, downtown managers and public officials will need to enhance their marketing strategy to boost consumer confidence, champion small business, and promote downtown as a place to invest. At this forum, seasoned communications expert Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt of Suasion Communications Group, led a discussion about public relations, digital marketing, and creative brand strategy for downtowns in recovery. Forum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Commercial District Recovery

  • Date and time: Wednesday, June 29th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

Events amid the COVID-19 pandemic require a bit more creativity and must be implemented with special care to ensure public safety. At this forum, we heard how downtowns are reinventing their events. We were joined by John Donio, President of Wildwood BID, Ollyn Lettman, Director of Bloomfield Center Alliance,  and Emily Manz of EMI Strategy who shared their experiences staging in-person and virtual events. Forum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Commercial District Recovery

  • Date and time: Friday, June 26th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

Small businesses in communities nationwide are facing the risk of permanent closure. To help address these challenges, Streetsense in partnership with LISC, created the Commercial District Recovery Guide that provides place-based organizations and intermediary partners focused on community economic development with a curated roadmap for action to support COVID-19 recovery efforts in downtowns and commercial districts. This forum was led by Larisa Ortiz, Managing Director of Research & Analysis at Streetsense, who provided an overview of the guide to kick-off an exchange of ideas among forum participants. Forum recap>


Downtown Management Forum: Re-entry for Retailers

  • Date and time: Friday, June 19th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

As our downtown retail establishments are permitted to reopen in the coming weeks, will need to employ design countermeasures to survive the short term and to thrive in the long term.  At this forum, we learned best practices from industry experts, and how NJ business owners are handling the transition. Forum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Digital Resources for Downtowns

  • Date and time: Friday, June 12th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

Now more than ever, “going digital” is necessary to stay relevant and present in the consumer’s mind. At this forum, we heard about a few of the digital resources that our members have found valuable for both their downtown and their businesses. Forum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: NJEDA Phase 2 Small Business Emergency Assistance Grants

  • Date and time: Friday, May 29th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

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 provided more information about eligibility and applying for Phase 2 of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant ProgramForum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Is Your Downtown Ready to Re-Open for Business?

  • Date and time: Friday, May 22th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

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 AllianceForum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Farmers Markets in the New Normal

  • Date and time: Wednesday, May 13th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

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 Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Open Exchange – Getting Back to Business Safely

  • Date and time: Friday, May 8th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

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 Recap>


Sustainable Jersey Virtual Summit: Supporting Local Economies

  • Date and time: Tuesday, April 28th
  • Location: Online Webinar

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. Forum Recap>


Downtown Management Forum: Downtown Budgeting Now

  • Date and time: Friday, April 24th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

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. Forum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: What’s next for the Retail Real Estate Market? 

  • Date and time: Friday, April 17th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

At this forum, we were joined 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. Ms. Villa discussed “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, she showed current and imminent downtown retail occupancy conditions, and mapped out a proactive recruitment strategy to expedite recovery starting in the 3rd quarter. Forum Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Survival Marketing Workshop

  • Date and time: Friday, April 3rd
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

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. Watch Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Economic Relief Legislation

  • Date and time: Friday, March 27th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

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 Recap & Video>


Downtown Management Forum: Downtown Manager Exchange

  • Date and time: Friday, March 20th
  • Location: ZOOM Online Meeting

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. At our first exchange, participants shared concerns for small businesses and their employees, questions for clarity related to closures, and policy and legislative needs to further assist small businesses. Forum Recap>


Downtown Management Round Table (Luncheon)

  • Date and time: Friday, February 7th
  • Location: East Orange Public Library, 21 South Arlington Avenue,
    East Orange, NJ 07018

DNJ’s quarterly round table is an exchange of ideas about hot topics in downtown economic development. The February meeting discussion focused on developing and enhancing your downtown restaurant scene. Forum Recap>


Downtown New Jersey Session at the 2020 NJ Planning Conference
Glass Half Full: Reforming New Jersey’s Antiquated Liquor Laws

  • Date and time: Friday, January 24th
  • Location: Hyatt Regency,  2 Albany Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

DNJ President, Bob Zuckerman, was featured in this session. Hear firsthand from the experts on what can be done to reform New Jersey’s outdated laws and how any future reform would affect the planning process throughout the state.