Stacy Webb, deputy director of community development in Evesham Township, had an idea to help local business owners facing hardship.
“We wanted to start something and plan something that would be an opportunity to share information with our small businesses, but it would be something ongoing,” said Webb. “It wouldn’t be something that’s a start and stop or only last four weeks.”
Evesham formed an economic advisory council last April, a group that meets monthly to discuss how to support small and local businesses. Among programs it created is a free webinar series called “Evesham Shares” that provides ongoing information to businesses about helpful programs or initiatives.
The council has 11 members, nine of whom are representatives from local business sectors such as retailers, restaurant owners, real estate agents, and banking representatives. The two other members are Township Manager Robert Corrales and Mayor Jaclyn Veasy.
Members meet every second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. and the sessions are shared on the council website and through social media. Residents can join the sessions virtually and share ideas they may have to help local businesses.
While the council’s earlier initiatives focused on getting customers to shop local, among other goals, “Evesham Shares” is a direct link to businesses, according to Public Information Officer Zane Clark.
“Here are some loan programs, here are some PPE programs, here are other mentoring programs to help them on the back end kind of things,” he noted.
Despite losing a small number of businesses during the pandemic, Evesham has welcomed about 20 to 30 others, according to Councilwoman Pat Hansen.
“Small businesses are the heart of Evesham; small businesses need us just as much as we need them,” said Hansen. “I can’t say enough about how happy we are and how hard we worked to keep bringing businesses into town and keep the ones we had.”
The council recently met with Congressman Andy Kim, who reached out about two weeks ago to meet with the group and hear how COVID continues to affect local businesses.