The crowd was so large they
had to add tables and chairs to the back of the Manhattan room at the Hyatt at
Headquarters Plaza as the Morristown Women in Business held their
first event Thursday morning.
The eclectic mix of business owners were there to network and to hear keynote speaker, Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, discuss the symbiotic nature between the business community and the governing body and administration.
The networking started right away, as the owners assembled began swapping business cards over coffee and began sharing ideas so fast some forgot to grab breakfast from the buffet before settling in for the two-hour event.
Chairwoman Mary Dougherty led off the event with a welcome explaining that the organization was a group of women business owners supporting other women business owners. But it wasn’t just business owners in attendance. Representatives from the Morristown Partnership, Morristown Council President Rebecca Feldman and councilman Michael Elms were there, as well as representatives from the Morris County Tourism Board.
As co-chairwoman Marisa Sweeney said in her remarks, while the membership was restricted to those who live or work in Morristown, the events like the kick-off breakfast would be open to anyone.
The major sponsors of the inaugural event were Sweeney’s Be Well, the Hyatt (who donated the space) and Marty’s Reliable Cycles. When given the opportunity to speak, owner Marty Epstein said he supported the organization because they were working together to help one another in what he described as “the most dynamic community in New Jersey.”
“This is awesome. I love to see this whole room filled,” Epstein said.
Epstein said that his mission was to save the world with bikes, and that as he sees Morristown become more livable as bike racks and bike lanes have popped up and just made the community “feel right.”
Making Morristown more accessible by walking and biking was only part of the way Epstein increased foot traffic to local businesses, as Tim Dougherty said in his remarks Epstein’s formation of the Gran Fondo brought thousands of people into town and into local businesses.
Dougherty said that Epstein walked into his office and pitched the idea of the Fondo.
“He said ‘this is what I want to do,’” Dougherty said. “And I said, ‘go do it.’”
Dougherty said the administration and the governing body were there to assist and wanted ideas, like the Gran Fondo and the Mayor’s Jazz and Blues Festival, that would drive more traffic into town and into local businesses.
“Call my office talk to our planners and let us know what we can do to help,” Dougherty said.
The mayor also said that it was crucial that businesses engage in the roll out of the master plan because they are not represented at the polls, but are equally as important as the people who live in town.
“My philosophy is we are only going to successful if we have a thriving business district because you pay a lot of our taxes, Dougherty said. “Thirty-two percent of Morristown is not taxable because they are non-profits. Without thriving businesses our residents couldn't afford to live here.”
Dougherty also said that the revitalization of the business district over the last several years is continuing as vacancies have dropped to under four percent and a younger generation are coming to town.
“Twenty years ago you could drive through town at 8 p.m. on a Friday and no one would be driving through,” Dougherty said. “That isn’t the case now.”
Morristown Women in Business are already planning their next meeting and looking for members, sponsors and people who want to be involved in their committee work. But as for the first meeting? The organizers are calling it a win.
“I think it went about as well as it could have,” Mary Dougherty said. “And I have such a great team. And it really is all about networking. That is what we are about and that is what they were doing.”