2 min read November 2021 — The Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce serves as a regional chamber for professionals and businesses that are located in or serve Monmouth and Ocean Counties. In an interview with Invest:, President Corinne McCann Trainor discussed the wide-ranging economic importance of the region’s tourism industry, the state of the industry as well as her economic outlook for the coming years.
What is the impact of the Jersey Shore’s tourism sector?
Although the tourism sector is generally thought to be made up mostly of hospitality establishments that provide lodging and food and beverage, the industry also includes businesses in recreation and entertainment, retail, real estate and transportation. The reason the tourism industry is so diverse is that demand for these types of services grows during the high season when visitors travel in large numbers to the Jersey Shore. Although the tourism industry is a major player for our region, and we do support restaurants, arcades, hotels and so on, there are many other businesses that support those enterprises in the tourism industry. The volume of business for professional services that serve hospitality, retail, recreation, entertainment, transportation and real estate grows substantially during the high season, too.
How has the tourism season been impacted by COVID?
What we’re seeing at the Jersey Shore from a tourism perspective is an extension of our in-season time. The season has expanded beyond Memorial Day to Labor Day, and now lasts from the beginning of March until early November. During the pandemic, that expansion has proven to be very important as we are in one of the most densely populated regions in the country and, therefore, we have welcomed a great number of visitors from the surrounding area.
What is the state of the labor shortage in the Jersey Shore?
The labor shortage at the Jersey Shore has been severe. As a partner at Fox Rothschild who handles commercial and estate litigation, I have clients in a variety of industries. Business owners tell me they are working longer days than they ever have before, often compromising their own health to keep their businesses open. I don’t know what the recovery will look like. Folks are quick to blame federal subsidies for unemployment, and I agree that’s a factor. However, those subsidies have been rolled back and Jersey Shore businesses still have not been able to fill all open positions, specifically for job positions earning between minimum wage and $20 an hour. This is troubling. Child care demands have also been blamed for the labor shortage, but that has also changed with New Jersey schools returning to session and restrictions being lifted on day care providers. I believe that people who want to work—but could not because their places of employment closed either temporarily or permanently—have found other jobs, whether that has been by opening their own businesses or working remotely. It’s difficult to imagine a quick workforce recovery, especially at the Jersey Shore, without heavy participation of college and high-school students. Unfortunately, businesses cannot rely on workers who are only home for June through mid-August.
What are the benefits of being associated with a chamber?
A chamber is more than an organization. Chambering is a verb and it’s different from networking. Chambering means that you engage in active business relationships with fellow entrepreneurs for a mutually beneficial, profitable and fun experience. People join chambers because they want people to know who they are, endorse them and trust them. This is a chance for businesses to have more opportunities within the community than they would by themselves.
What is your outlook for the Jersey Shore economy?
I have a generally positive outlook. Our small business community will need to overcome some significant challenges, but I’m still seeing an influx of folks from out of town looking to put down permanent or semi-permanent roots at the Jersey Shore. That’s helpful to our small businesses because it brings additional economic benefits, intellectual capital and energy. New ideas, storefronts and landscapes are helping drive the transformation of an otherwise sleepy shore region into a vibrant, year-round place to raise a family.
I believe we’ll see another round of businesses deciding to sell or close, whether that’s a result of the tough small business environment or owners who were already looking to retire within the next few years. But I’m still positive about the outlook because that means there will be new room for people to start or buy businesses.
What sector is best positioned for growth in the coming years?
The area in which we’re most likely to see significant growth is real estate, primarily residential. However, the extent of the growth will depend on the degree to which large companies, regional businesses and their clients allow professional services to be provided remotely as the pandemic eases. If the trend toward remote work continues, we’ll see a large influx of licensed professionals who provide financial services, legal services, engineering services and so on. Their work can be done from anywhere — as long as their customers and company allow it — and who wouldn’t want their home office to be at the Jersey Shore.
For more information, visit: https://jerseyshorechambernj.com/