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On a small business 'listening tour,' Sweeney declares Jersey Shore open for business

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To learn about the obstacles and pathways to fiscal growth in New Jersey from some of the companies that help drive the state's economy, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-West Deptford) today launched a “Small Business Listening Tour” with stops at a café in Atlantic City and an engineering and management services firm in Wall Township.

"New Jersey's economy has been stuck, with unemployment remaining nearly unchanged over the last few years," Sweeney said in a statement. "We have worked on various bills in the Legislature, but we can always do more."

The start of Sweeney's travels trails Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno's "Open for Business" tour, which kicked off on Jan. 7 to encourage local residents to shop at small retailers and restaurants along the state's shoreline that were hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy.

"New Jerseyans responded quickly and generously to the needs of those hurt the most," Guadagno said in prepared remarks for her second stop at Brickwall Tavern & Restaurant, in Asbury Park, on Jan. 9. "Supporting local businesses, such as retail shops and restaurants, is critical to our economy and our recovery and rebuilding efforts."

Since her initial visits to Brickwall and Bazzarelli's Restaurant and Pizzeria, in Moonachie, Guadagno has met with employees and customers at Zack's Oak Bar and Restaurant, in Hoboken; Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory, in Jersey City; and Lola's Boutique, in Point Pleasant. Today, Guadagno will make tour stops at Federico's Pizza & Restaurant, in Belmar; Lavallette Hardware, in Lavallette; and Ron Jon Surf Shop, in Ship Bottom.

"It's critical that we support small businesses like Zack's and educate everyone that businesses in towns hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy are open," Guadagno said in prepared remarks for her visit to the restaurant on Jan. 17.

While Guadagno's tour highlights the resilience of towns and small businesses in the superstorm's wake, Sweeney said his excursion "is about hearing the concerns of small-business owners and finding out what they need to succeed and grow in New Jersey. It's not about pushing an agenda, or touting what we have done; it's about hearing what they need."

In addition to taking down notes from companies, Sweeney will use his tour to promote the "Jersey Shore Is Open for Business" campaign, which hosts an online database of shops and restaurants currently open in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

Sweeney said business owners looking to add their names to that list should contact the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau at 732-244-9283 or online at www.visitthejerseyshore.com.

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