City Chamber Director Working to Help Businesses Survive

By ED SALVAS

The executive director of the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce knows some of her members are fighting to stay alive in the face of the day-to-day developments of the coronavirus that has virtually shut down much of the local economy. And she’s working to help them.

Chamber Director Sylvia Sylvia Cioffi, always upbeat and positive, has spent the past week on the phone with local officials, lawmakers in Trenton and the state Economic Development Authority to be sure the businesses in Asbury Park survive.

“Many businesses are petrified of having to close permanently,” she said.

She has been in daily contact with Sen.Vin Gopal and Freeholder Tom Arnone who have been offering assistance. Cioffi said the Chamber’s President, Jennifer Schulman, is arranging for a webinar with Lori Matheus, Sr. vice president of the EDA to explain what aid is available to businesses battered by the virus crisis. She hopes to announce a date soon.

Cioffi said restaurants are trying to maintain cash flow by offering curbside pick-up to comply with the forced closing of the inside dining room.  An effort to provide daily meals for local families is being created with several restaurants and local churches. The program called Dinner Table will have meals delivered to the churches to be picked up by needy families.

Cioffi is also concerned about the chamber’s two upcoming Spring events, the April Restaurant Tour and the annual Carousel Awards Gala set for May 8. She said they will be held if they are postponed, adding that “cancellation is not an option.”

“Thank God for the leadership in this town,” Cioffi said, reacting to the way city officials moved on Sunday to declare a state of Local Disaster Emergency and place restrictions on activity ahead of others in the state “never hesitating to protect the 17,000 residents of the city.”

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