To fill an imbalance in how independent businesses are represented throughout Central New Jersey, the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce is launching its Independent Business Alliance to spur economic growth and development throughout the region. As part of the effort the Chamber has entered into an exclusive partnership with the American Independent Business Association (AMIBA).

Independent businesses are the backbone of local business communities and are the drivers of economic stability. “It’s a fact that $73 of every $100 dollars spent in a local independent business stays in the community while in contrast only $43 of every $100 dollars spent at a non-locally owned business remains in the community. When you buy on line…little or nothing stays in the community,” said Debbie Schaeffer, owner of Lawrence-based Mrs. G TV, Appliance and Sleep Center and co-vice chair of the new initiative. “Mrs. G’s is a third generation family owned business. As an independent business our growth and success is a direct result of our involvement with the community and the Princeton Regional Chamber. I am proud to be on the leadership team of the Chamber’s Independent Business Alliance program.”

The Alliance’s mission is to work on a regional basis to educate consumers about buying decisions, help businesses grow, in turn creating jobs and increasing visibility of independent businesses. The initiative will also develop a co-operative system of marketing and referrals in addition to its educational and networking opportunities. Independent businesses are not defined by size but refer to local and regionally-owned businesses which can include startups and privately-owned companies.

“There are over 5,000 independent businesses in the five county footprint of the Princeton Regional Chamber and there is no one speaking as one voice to the needs of these businesses,” said Scott Needham, president of Princeton Air and co-vice chair of the Independent Business Alliance. “Local businesses give back to their communities—you buy from me and the money stays here; there’s a value to that. As an independent business owner it is important to me that there is a regional organization like this focused on supporting our needs.”

“Independent businesses support a large segment of the regional economy with jobs and tax dollars,” noted Peter Crowley, president and CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, pointing out that 60 percent of the Chamber membership consists of engaged independent business owners. “We look forward to the Independent Business Alliance working with local communities and municipalities to educate consumers on the importance of including independent businesses in their purchasing decisions. In addition we will be originating and building programs designed to assist, support and work with independent businesses to help them overcome the challenges of growing their business and increasing their visibility. This will become a significant focal point in the Chamber’s overall mission to be a champion for business within our region.”

The Independent Business Alliance will be working with AMIBA, a nationally recognized independent business organization that helps communities launch and operate Independent Business Alliances and other initiatives to support local entrepreneurs and local economies.

“The committee has researched several, similar successful programs in other regions of the country and we will incorporate their best practices into our program,” said Pat Ryan, chair of Pennington-based Hopewell Valley Community Bank and chair of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce. “These types of businesses cross over a wide variety of industries—from retail to business services to travel and hospitality from sole proprietors to start up entrepreneurs.”

The Independent Business Alliance and partnership with AMIBA was introduced at the Princeton Regional Chamber’s monthly membership lunch held at the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Plainsboro on November 7.

To learn more about the Chamber’s Independent Business Alliance program or its exclusive partnership with the American Independent Business Association or for more information on how you can get involved, please contact Vikki Hurley-Schubert at 609-924-1776, ext. 100, Vikki@princetonchamber.org, or visit www.princetonchamber.org.

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