The Hoboken Chamber of Commerce held its first annual Business Awards ceremony Wednesday night at the Elks Club. They presented awards for Business of the Year and New Business of the Year to the Applied Development Company and NJ Tech Meetup, respectively.
New Chamber President Greg Dell’Aquila, who owns Mission Fifty – a shared office workspace company – welcomed representatives from nearly 200 businesses to the club’s main hall, where dinner was served by the Restaurant of the Year recipient, Amanda’s.
Other big winners on the night included All Saints Episcopal Parish (Community Service Business of the Year), Elizabeth Barry of EB & Associates (Businesswoman of the Year), Empire Realty Group (Real Estate Office of the Year), and BCB Community Bank (Financial Institution of the Year).
“I think the storm was really a wakeup call.”
“I have lived in this town since I was 7 years old. I wasn’t born here, because I came from Italy,” she said, “but this town has been wonderful to me and my family, and I hope I never have to leave.”
New Chamber president
The ceremony was the first opportunity for the business community to meet Dell’Aquila the organization’s new president, as well as the other three new officers – Vice President Richard Mackiewicz, a local attorney; Treasurer Joseph Manuele, the manager of the Hoboken branch of the BCB Community Bank, and Secretary Norma DeRuggiero of DeRuggiero Realtors.
Dell’Aquila talked about the businesses’ commitment to Hoboken.
“What I want you to all ask yourselves is ‘What is my commitment to Hoboken?,” said Dell’Aquila. “Like in any strong relationship, like the one each of our businesses has with our town, sometimes you have to commit. In light of the hurricane, the time for that commitment is now.”
Many awards recipients and attendees spoke of the effect of Hurricane Sandy on Hoboken’s economy. So did Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
“I think that out of all this can come an even better Hoboken,” said Zimmer. “And we, the city, want to help the business sector, but we need to know the extent of the damage.”
She then urged business owners to take a survey that has been posted on the city’s website in order to gauge the amount of damage businesses suffered post-Sandy.
Eugene and Joyce Flinn, who own Amanda’s, also spoke about the strength of Hoboken’s businesses in the wake of Sandy when they accepted their award. Mr. Flinn said that throughout the recovery, businesses must be able to depend on each other for assistance and guidance.
“I think it’s been 28 days since the storm, because it was a full moon that night and a full moon tonight,” he said. “I don’t think anyone is going to be able to help us as much as we can help each other.”
“All your resources are necessary,” he told the audience.
Businesses small and big
In the past, the town was known almost exclusively for its privately-owned small shops, such as Carlo’s and Amanda’s. However, the town also has some larger local companies, like Applied Development.
“I think the smaller and larger businesses are going to have to work together to create a sustainable Hoboken business economy,” said Dell’Aquila. “I think the storm was really a wake up call for a lot of businesses here that routinely move paycheck to paycheck, that they were really living on the edge.”
“Through aggressive advertising and marketing, and by really strengthening our Chamber of Commerce, I think we can get ourselves to a place where we’re sitting more comfortably,” he added.
Dell’Aquila announced at the end of the evening that much of the proceeds for the event, which amounted to around $25,000, would be used to sponsor an advertising and marketing campaign aimed at bringing shoppers back to Hoboken following the storm. Single tickets for the event cost $100, while tables seating eight people cost $700.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org