Union County Means Business Concludes 2012 with Social Media Panel at New Jersey Sharing Network in New Providence
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 • 11:10pm
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Over 175 Union County business owners packed the New Jersey Sharing Network headquarters in New Providence on Tuesday morning, Oct. 16, for the final installment for 2012 of "Union County Means Business," a series of programs established by the County of Union to help educate and inform business owners and provide significant opportunities to network with fellow business owners and County and local officials.
The event delved into the world of social media with a panel and free seminar titled “21st Century Business: Navigating Technology and Social Media."
Union County Means Business was initiated last January by Union County Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella with the goal of helping local businesses learn to connect with government resources. The initiative is a collaborative effort that includes the Union County Alliance, Union County Economic Development Corporation, Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce, Suburban Chamber of Commerce, Union County College, Kean University Small Business Development Center and the Union Township Chamber of Commerce.
The speakers were Michael Shapiro, the founder and publisher of TheAlternativePress.com, Lorin Kleiner, the regional publisher of AOL's Patch, Julio Sabater, the publisher of Elizabeth Insideout T.V. and Wendi Caplan-Carroll, senior regional development director for Constant Contact. They each gave brief presentations about their media outlets, discussed the changing media landscape and the rise of hyperlocal news sites.
Robert Provost, the Director of Marketing for the Star Ledger said social media has a major impact in society, business and journalism. More importantly, in order to survive as a business today, people need to understand how to use it.
“Businesses have to recognize, but also take advantage of the empowerment that digital media gives them,” he said.
Jimmy Vardas and Michelle Brugger, who have businesses in New Providence, said the event was important and very helpful. Vardas, who is the owner of the Prestige Diner and the President of the New Providence Downtown Improvement District in New Providence, said he wants to see more people shopping downtown because it’s a beautiful area.
“We have seen the town grow,” he said. “We feel that the whole community and the businesses should be working together.”
He is trying to get more restaurants and stores in the area and possibly even a bar with the potential sale of the liquor license. Vardas said relocating one’s business to New Providence is a smart move because a recent study showed that when an individual spends money downtown, 70 percent of the revenue stays in the community.
“If you do your shopping downtown, in reality, you return money to your pocket,” Vardas said.
Brugger, along with her husband, has owned Martial Arts for Life for seven years. They hold different types of classes for children and adults. She is also the President of the New Providence Business & Professional Association and one of her goals is to revitalize the downtown. It is not as big as Summit or Westfield, but it can be beautiful, she said.
“It’s really just important that we have strong businesses in the community that create wonderful events for the downtown,” Brugger said.
Donna Bost-White, a new business owner in Roselle said the event was extremely helpful. Bost-White, who just started her company, ARCH (Arts, Recreation, Culture and Humanities) in September, is networking as much as possible.
“This was a wonderful session,” she said. “I’m very excited as a new small business owner to learn more about how people are connecting with one another in the county.”