By Anne Levin
As the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses quickly became a reality just over a week ago, Mayor Liz Lempert reached out to James Steward, director of Princeton University Art Museum and a board member of the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA), for ideas. How could small- and mid-sized businesses manage throughout the crisis?
The conversation resulted in the first Virtual Princeton Business Forum, held last Thursday and “attended” by some 82 interested parties, via Zoom. The conversation, which was led by Steward, will be repeated this Thursday, March 26 at 10 a.m., with a representative from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on hand to answer question about loans, financing, and technical assistance. The virtual gathering is presented by the PMA, and is open to members and non-members.
“I knew that step one was to create an opportunity for people to come together sooner rather than later,” said Steward, who will host the second event. “The pace with which this crisis has unfolded was leaving people feeling isolated and frightened and alone. And that includes the business community.”
Among those who posed questions and comments during the first forum were proprietors of Labyrinth Books, Casa Aziz, Princeton Garden Theatre, Jammin’ Crepes, Bella Boutique, Homestead Princeton, and Thomas Sweet. Marco Cucchi, who owns Thomas Sweet, said concerns about the health of his employees led him to close all four of the ice cream café’s locations, in the hopes that they could get a jump on securing unemployment compensation. Jack Morrison, PMA president and owner of the JM Group’s five restaurants, offered to be a resource on the employee question, having established a Go Fund Me account for his workers. more