To help its members catch the 70,000 people descending upon the central part of the state in June 2014, the MidJersey Chamber of Commerce today announced a partnership with the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games at the organization's New Jersey sports complex in Lawrenceville.
"These national games will clearly put our businesses on the map and bring recognition to what our region has to offer," said Robert D. Prunetti, president and CEO of the MidJersey Chamber. "From our perspective, this gives our business community the opportunity to take advantage of the 70,000 people that will be in this area and experience firsthand the economic impact from this event."
Marc Edenzon, president and CEO of Special Olympics New Jersey — a member organization of the MidJersey Chamber — said he expects the regional economic impact from the weeklong event to total between $50 million and $70 million, based on what Lincoln, Neb., pulled in when it hosted the 2010 games.
However, Prunetti said New Jersey could potentially see a greater impact, as "this effort is unique in that we're the first chamber to become a significant partner and put our business community out on the front lines."
Under the partnership, MidJersey will serve as a catalyst for businesses to donate, sponsor and volunteer for the various games throughout the week, which will be held at a number of area schools that include Princeton University, Rider University and The College of New Jersey.
To ensure the 3,500 athletes, 10,000 volunteers and 50,000 additional spectators book rooms at local hotels, eat at neighborhood restaurants and visit nearby tourist attractions, Prunetti said the chamber will serve as the area information source for visitors and maintain a portal on the event's website and mobile pages, "so when people go online to plan ahead for their health needs and lodging, they'll be directed to our website and all of our member businesses that are on there."
So far, MidJersey has encouraged local hotels to offer lodging to participants in the 2014 games, and several already have booked rooms for the event, Prunetti said.
"Our goal is to get every business in this region to become a part of this process — not only to benefit from the economic activity, but to help showcase our area, which will be a national focus for a whole week," Prunetti said. "This is an enormous task, but I think we're up to it. And I think, through this partnership and our businesses' involvement, New Jersey's Special Olympics is going to be the model for the areas that will host future events."