With just days until Christmas, the Burlington County Commissioners are encouraging residents to use the remaining shopping days to support local businesses as much as possible.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Burlington County’s economy and our downtowns and main streets, and the support these businesses receive during the holidays is often critical for their survival,” said Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson. “For those still hunting for holiday gifts and entertainment, please visit a local store or restaurant to support them and their employees.”
Promoting small businesses operating in the county has long been a priority of the Commissioners but it took on added importance in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID. As part of the County’s response, the Commissioners revived the “Shop Burlington County First” initiative to spotlight and promote local small businesses on the County’s social media pages and website.
More than 200 small businesses have been spotlighted through the County’s efforts during the last year and hundreds of new followers have “liked” the Shop Burlington County First Facebook page.
As part of the initiative, the County also created four new small business maps detailing the locations of various Black-owned businesses, Latino and Hispanic-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, and veteran-owned businesses. The maps can be found on the Burlington County Business Portal at https://co.burlington.nj.us/1226/Business-Resources.
Local businesses can request to be listed on these maps and spotlighted on the Shop Burlington County First page by contacting the Commissioner’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include pertinent information about your businesses such as address, phone number, website, history and goods and services. Photos are also welcome.
This year the Commissioners also brought back Burlington County Restaurant Week at the start of summer to help boost business for local restaurants and eateries. More than 40 restaurants participated in the week-long event, making it one of the largest and most successful business promotions in the County’s history.
In addition to these promotions, Hopson reminded Burlington County businesses that zero-interest loans are still available to assist them with their COVID recovery through the Health Emergency Loan Program, also known as HELP.
The program is administered by the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s Economic Development Office and offers up to $50,000 in financing to Burlington County businesses impacted by the pandemic for business-related purchases, payroll and other expenses.
For more information or to apply, go to https://www.bcbridges.org/covid19-resources/ or contact the Burlington County Department of Economic Development and Regional Planning at 609-265-5055.
“The zero-interest HELP loans program has become a difference-maker for local small businesses that either fell through the cracks and failed to qualify for federal or state assistance or needed additional funds during these challenging times,” said Burlington County Bridge Commission Chair Matthew Riggins. “The Bridge Commission is proud to partner with the Commissioners to make sure this important financing remains available and accessible to businesses that need it, and we echo their call for residents to support local businesses whenever possible.”
“The impacts of the pandemic have been wide-ranging, but we know small businesses were among the hardest hit. Many of these businesses have incurred substantial expenses to retrofit their establishment and purchase supplies to keep their customers and employees safe and some are still struggling to recover,” Hopson said. “We need to continue to support these businesses as much as possible now through the holiday and beyond. Their owners and employees are our neighbors and friends, and your patronage helps them and our county’s communities, so please make the effort to visit one or more local stores or restaurants this week.”