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10/26/2021 - Somerset County Commissioners to Hold Final ARP COVID Recovery Roundtable Seeking Public Input on Businesses and Downtowns

Somerset County Commissioners to Hold Final ARP COVID Recovery Roundtable Seeking Public Input on Businesses and Downtowns

Session Will Bring Commissioners and Local Business Owners and Business Organization Executives Together to Discuss How Town Centers & Local Businesses Can Emerge Strong from COVID

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Somerset County Commissioner Director Shanel Robinson and Commissioner Paul Drake will host the third Facebook Live Roundtable focused on recovering from COVID, this time targeting “Businesses and Downtowns.” Somerset County received almost $64 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to support all aspects of the County’s strong and equitable recovery from the COVID pandemic. The Commissioners invite the public to post questions and comments on the topic during the livestream.

“Downtowns and local shops were hit extremely hard by the COVID pandemic, and many are still struggling to recover,” said Commissioner Robinson. “We have an opportunity to use the American Rescue Plan funds to rethink how we support our local business communities and develop strategies and programs that not only help these local gems recover, but to thrive as we move on to the new normal.”

The first two Roundtables in the series focused on two other important segments: 1) Residents and Non-Profits (view on YouTube), and 2) Tourism and Hospitality (view on YouTube). The information and ideas generated by these roundtables and the online survey will be used to develop programs, marketing, and other strategies to build a strong and equitable recovery for all aspects of Somerset County.

The Businesses and Downtowns Roundtable will be streamed live on Somerset County’s Facebook Page at at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28. Residents can sign up and receive a reminder just before the livestream at

“Somerset County has a wide diversity in its local shops, restaurants and businesses, whether in downtowns, on our highways, or hidden in some of our villages,” said Commissioner Drake. “We are committed to helping all of our local businesses who have struggled through the past eighteen months to thrive as we come out of the pandemic, and the ideas and strategies we’ll discuss at the Roundtable will help us do that.”

Roundtable panelists for the Oct. 28, include:

Peter Cocoziello, Jr., Owner of Advance Realty
Chris Edwards, Chief Executive Officer of the Somerset County Business Partnership
Melissa Jenkins, Owner of BAM Desserts
Al LiCata, President of Bernards Regional Chamber of Commerce
Juanita Painson, President of the Franklin Township Chamber of Commerce
Natalie Pineiro, Executive Director of the Downtown Somerville Alliance
Lucy Sandler, Owner of House of Blooms

Somerset County residents, non-profits and businesses can also provide input through an online survey available at