The partnership announced the past week between the Greater Atlantic City Chamber and the Somers Point Business Association is a kind that’s familiar to many businesses — a limited partnership.
The groups will keep their own, separate members. The only specific action taken in the partnership is that each organization will become a member of the other.
There is one big commitment: To establish lines of communication and explore ways to benefit the groups and their members.
“This is in the vein of having the organizations work together, formalizing a partnership to do so,” said Joseph Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber. “They’ll have the autonomy to do what they need to do in the community, and we’ll have the same, but when it makes sense for the two groups to work together, this opens the door to that.”
The idea for the partnership originated at the Somers Point group, which wants to connect better to neighboring communities and businesses, particularly in Ocean City and Linwood.
“We want to bring in fresh ideas, best business practices and such,” said Abigail Crafts, president of the Somers Point Business Association. “Our first effort will be to form relationships with chambers that do it right. The Greater Atlantic City Chamber is a great organization, and we’ll be able to learn from them and see what they do.”
Crafts, who is director of annual giving at the Shore Medical Center Foundation, said she knows first hand what the larger organization accomplishes.
“I personally have worked with the Greater Atlantic City Chamber in the past, know what they do, and how they do it really well,” she said. “This partnership will give our members so many benefits.”
Kelly, of Mays Landing, said the groups will no doubt co-sponsor an event in the future, and will continue to host many events individually.
“One of their focuses, for example, is the Bay Avenue festival in Somers Point. We’re not going to begin telling them the best way to run the event,” he said. “But perhaps we’ll encourage businesses countywide to participate, and take out a booth at that event.”
One area where Kelly sees an immediate advantage is in advocacy for business interests, which the chamber has strengthened in recent years.
“Let’s say we’re after a state incentive program to support business investment. That’s something in common we’d want throughout the county,” he said. “I would think communities would jump on board with that, broaden our voice in the process, and make us more effective in lobbying on behalf of businesses.”
Crafts, of Cape May Court House, said the association’s partnership initiative was led by member Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt, president of Suasion Communications Group.
Crafts said the Somers Point Business Association has about 75 members, but with many more businesses in the immediate area, there is room to grow.
Kelly said the leadership of the two organizations will start getting together and sustaining a dialogue on shared interests.
He said that if the partnership works well, it could serve as a model for creating relationships with other business groups in the region.
Jobless fund fix
Once again, businesses with employees are facing big payments to help cover the state’s depleted unemployment insurance fund.
Starting in July, businesses must pay a 10 percent surcharge on their unemployment insurance payments as a result of more than $1 billion the state borrowed from the federal government to pay jobless benefits in the downturn.
The state had to borrow money because successive state governments raided the fund for $4.6 billion over 15 years, using it for purposes other than unemployment benefits.
The N.J. Business & Industry Association said this week that businesses can’t afford the surcharge, especially while recovering from Hurricane Sandy, and asked the state Legislature to suspend the added cost for one year.
Stefanie Riehl, NJBIA assistant vice president, said that even without the surcharge, employers this year will pay from $370 to $2,200 per employee, depending on the number of jobless benefit claims filed against their accounts in the past.
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