Ventnor Mayor Lance Landgraf gathers with members of the business community at a mixer Tuesday in Somers Point.


SOMERS POINT – Several local business associations are uniting under an umbrella organization to collaborate and strengthen the business community following the COVID-19 pandemic years. On Tuesday, March 15, 109 members of the Brigantine, Somers Point, Margate and Ventnor business associations gathered with the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce for a mixer held at Josie Kelly’s Public House.

Chuck Westcott, who was president of the Somers Point Business Association for two terms, said he worked with Anna Maria Blescia-Courter, executive director of the Margate Business Association, for the last 18 months to form the Affiliated Business Associations of Atlantic County. The Somers Point Association was the first to host a series of mixers that will be held in various member association locations. The next mixer will be held at Tomatoe’s restaurant in Margate on June 6.

“This is a great turnout,” Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce President Michael Chait said. “This is the first step in pulling the business community together. Collaboration is critical. We learned through the pandemic that we need each other to be successful.”

Westcott said that during the pandemic, volumes of information about federal support programs were being sent out to businesses haphazardly.

“When things started to open up, all the chambers agreed there should be one stream of information. We met with Mike and Anna Maria to discuss how we could align smaller business associations to get information out and reduce redundancy.”

A memorandum of understanding was signed last year and the Atlantic City chamber shared its email list “not for marketing, but to share information and advocacy,” Westcott said.

The Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce has the staff and resources to be the lead agency in the collaborative effort and will handle all registrations for future events on its website,, Chait said.

Affiliated Business Association of Atlantic County held a mixer Tuesday, March 15, 2023 at Josie Kelly’s Public House in Somers Point.

Somers Point Council President Janice Johnston, who chairs the chamber’s Special Events Committee, said the chamber is trying to collaborate with smaller associations throughout the region. Right now, the associations include those in the eastern part of Atlantic County, but it is likely that membership in the Affiliated Association will expand as new local organizations are formed. Northfield is in the process of forming an association at this time, she said.

“There’s power in numbers, especially on legislative issues,” Johnston said.

Blescia-Courter said she was excited to see so many fellow business owners interested in the collaboration.

“We are excited and proud to bring these associations together. There are members here who do not normally have any exchanges, and we need to stress the importance of working together,” she said.

Westcott called the mixer “a momentus first step” in opening lines of communication.

“Communication equals collaboration,” he said. “We suffered greatly during the pandemic, but here I see great promise for the future.”

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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.