Letter from the Chamber President
For more than 70 years, the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc. has been sharing the good word about shopping and dining Madison, New Jersey. The Chamber was founded in 1943 as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit business league with the mission of promoting the business interests of its dues-paying members and the economic interests of Madison.
The Chamber is not a sole entity unto itself. It is comprised of more than 170 businesses and organizations. Good people from these businesses volunteer their valuable time, expertise and resources to the efforts of the Chamber. Needless to say, the strength of the Chamber comes from its members. They are committed to progress and prosperity for all and work to enhance Madison’s business climate for the benefit of our customers and our community.
By-Laws dictate Chamber's governance. According to the By-Laws, the Chamber Board of Directors, which meets monthly, guides the organization. Every spring the entire membership elects one-third of the directors, who serve overlapping three-year-terms. Every two years, the directors elect a slate of officers, which includes a president, first vice president, second vice president and treasurer. The current Board is comprised of nineteen voting members.
The By-Laws provide for one paid professional, an executive director. Karen Meyer has been executive director of the Chamber since 2009. Karen’s hard work, dedication and professionalism account for the continuing growth of the Chamber and its responsiveness to its members. The Chamber Board is committed to adding value to being a member and Karen has seen that through.
Many Chamber programs have been part of our tradition for many years. Most are evolving for the better and we’re adding new ones as needed. All programs mean to advance the interests of Madison, its businesses, its residents and its visitors. Brief descriptions of our programs follow:
· The annual Taste of Madison was established in 2002 and it is one of the best fine food and wine events in New Jersey. Besides being Chamber’s largest fund-raiser, the Taste spotlights under one roof on one night, the best of Madison’s dining establishments. The Madison Downtown Development Commission (DDC), the Rotary Club of Madison and the Chamber are the producing partners of the Taste. Respective to each partner, Taste proceeds fund business development, civic improvements and charitable giving.
· Easter Fun Fest is an outdoor, downtown event. Children and parents gather Easter eggs from participating merchants and redeem them for chances to win prizes. It gives merchants the chance to invite folks into their store and share hospitality.
· The Fire Extinguisher Inspection Program is held in June and October. This is an opportunity for merchants and residents to have their extinguishers professionally examined for optimal performance at discounted prices.
· The Annual Awards Dinner is the Chamber’s celebration at the end of its fiscal year in June. The Chamber recognizes certain members in several special categories for business excellence.
· At the dinner, the Chamber announces the winners of its Jack Morris Memorial Scholarships which are awarded to graduating Madison High School students. Chamber's is one of the largest scholarship distributions in town. Usually the Chamber contributes up to $3,000.00 to three students who intend to pursue business careers after college.
· End of Season Sales Days in August is a new program and an opportunity for merchants to put their wares on the sidewalk in a street fair setting just before school is back in session.
· On the first Saturday in October on Bottle Hill Day - which is Madison's annual downtown, town wide street festival sponsored by the DDC - the Chamber produces the Madison Car Show with its partner PBA Local #92 of the Madison Police Department. One of the most successful car shows in Northern New Jersey, our car show will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2016.
· The Chamber's Halloween Costume Parade and Magic Show is a fun event for merchants and trick-o-treaters alike. After the Main Street parade, children and parents congregate on Waverly Place for a magic show. This event, like “Easter Fun Fest,” gives patrons and merchants the chance to see old friends and to meet new ones.
· The Home for the Holidays program is a joint production of Madison Christmas Committee, the DDC, Madison Arts & Culture Alliance (MACA) and the Chamber. Chamber produces the Holiday Home Decorating Contest for residents. Chamber produces the Holiday Window Decorating Contest with MACA to make downtown look spectacular during the yearend holidays through original, public artwork created by students from Madison High School and Drew University.
· After the holidays, Chamber members gather at the Annual Holiday Party to celebrate the old year and to ring in the new. Festivities include door prizes contributed by Chamber members and a brief report to the membership about upcoming Chamber activities.
· The Chamber also holds a Spring Membership Party for the membership to create networking opportunities and business partnerships.
· Other events that draw member interest for the purpose of having fun are the Annual Bowling Party at Plaza Lanes and our summer bus Trip to Yankee Stadium to enjoy a Major League Baseball game.
· The Madison Loyalty Rewards Card program features outstanding offers and discounts to many shoppers’ favorite local stores. The distinctive card costs only ten dollars and is valid for one year. Some of our fellow Madison non-profits sell the card as a fundraiser to benefit their programs. The Madison Pharmacy, 66 Main Street, and New Leaf Consignment, 16 Park Ave., also sell the card.
· Chamber’s other important program is the Madison Gift Check, which is a gift certificate that can be redeemed at any Chamber-member business. We re-invented this program several years ago in order to make its purchase and redemption easier for patrons, recipients and merchants. The Madison Gift Check is available only at The Provident Bank at 98 Main St.
· The Chamber also holds biweekly Focus on Foot Traffic Meetings and monthly Networking Breakfasts as well as other networking parties, events and activities. All are designed to promote business camaraderie and companionship that leads to business growth and excellene.
· Chamber holds the Retail Round Robin several times a year. This is a behind-the-scenes tour showing how and why businesses run their organizations successfully. Three businesses volunteer to hold an open house and Chamber members travel from business to business after hours over the course of an evening.
· The Nautilus Placemat Advertising Program is a great success and we thank our friends at the Nautilus Diner, 95 Main St., for hosting and facilitating this enduring partnership that helps get out the good word about shopping and dining in Madison.
· Ladies Night Out and Senior Discount Days and the Holiday Gift Basket Raffle are new programs. They have received wide acceptance by merchants and consumers. All three programs drive interest and increased business to our businesses.
· Late Night Thursdays is the business community’s effort to bring back Thursday night shopping, Madison’s traditional night for shopping. Accordingly, many Chamber members have hosted their grand openings, open houses and special events on Thursday nights.
· The Contractors Forum is a new initiative that works to serve the large number of contractors in the Chamber and Madison. Each month at a set time and date at the Nautilus Dinner contractors meet in a semi-formal manner in order to discuss business topics that affect them and their clients.
· Chamber also has a Land Use Committee that meets as needed. The mission of the Land Use Committee is to advocate for intelligent civic planning and reasonable commercial regulations and to educate our members about the municipal land use code and doing business with the Borough of Madison.
· The Merchant of the Month program is a joint initiative of the DDC and the Chamber. The award recognizes merchants for keeping their premises clean and bright, both inside and out. More than sixty businesses have won the award. Each winner receives an engraved award plaque and an invitation to fly the distinctive blue Merchant of the Month banner for four weeks.
Madison is a wonderful and unique town, certainly a jewel in New Jersey. The Chamber’s goal is to help keep it that way. Madison is many things at the same time: A family town, a historic town, a commuter town, a business town, a restaurant town, a college town and a suburban town.
But what makes Madison so special is the people who love Madison. They are residents, visitors, students, shoppers, employees and community volunteers. The business community is proud to a part of the fabric of Madison and that’s why we all say, Love Madison, Shop Madison.
John Morris | Chamber President 2014-2016
John Morris is a principal of Stewart-Morris, Awards, Gifts & Flags.