SOMERS POINT, NJ—More than 170 members of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce gathered June 13 at Greate Bay Country Club to reflect on the year passed and to forge ahead in a spirit of true collaboration.
Chamber President Michael Chait thanked Immediate Past Chair Janice Johnston for her strong two years serving as the Executive Board Chair and welcomed John Heinz III as the new Chairman for 2023-2025. John Heinz brings years of successful business experience to the position. He is the owner and president of Concert Quality Production Services, established in 1992, and has served on the Chamber Executive Board since 2014.
Heinz said he is optimistic about the region as he begins his two years at the helm. “I am optimistic that we can survive the storm of New York City casinos. I have traveled to multiple gaming areas, and outside of Las Vegas, there is no place that has multiple options in one location. We have so much going for us in this area, with restaurants and a beautiful beach and boardwalk. We have to be a world-class destination; we are so much more than casinos,” said Heinz.
Transportation is a focus of Heinz. “I have taken an active role in the AC Rail Coalition. We have to look at employees, who make up a large portion of those using public transportation.” He is working on an express bus that would bring employees from the Vineland and Millville area to Atlantic City in under one hour. Currently, that trip on NJ Transit takes more than 90 minutes.
As Heinz begins as Chairman of the Executive Board, he said it is important for businesses to look to the Chamber because “The Chamber has its finger on the pulse. Local, county, state, and even federal legislation can directly affect local businesses. There is a benefit for small businesses joining the Chamber. I know it can be hard; when you run a small business, you wear a lot of hats, and sometimes your day is filled with putting out fires, but the Chamber is helping small businesses be successful by working in collaboration with others,” said Heinz Lastly, Heinz said he is excited that the Chamber is taking the steps to be more visible. “It is important that people see what we are doing and see the accomplishments of the Chamber and how they can benefit the region.”
Chait extended a warm welcome to Barbara DeMarco of Porzio Governmental Affairs, who will serve on the Executive Board as the Chair-Elect. In a newly created position, the chair-elect will have two years of mentoring prior to ascending to the chair position. “I am really grateful for the two-year mentorship with John Heinz so that when I step into that position, I will be well informed in everything the Chamber is working on,” said DeMarco. “John has a wealth of experience as a businessman.”
DeMarco has high hopes and goals for the Greater AC Chamber. “We need a voice to speak for the Southern Shore area. Of course, tourism and gaming are key to local success. But we are New Jersey’s fruit basket this time of the year, and we want to share our strong connection in the farming and food processing industry here in the south. We saw what happened with the downturn of the economy, and several casinos closed; that affected people’s lives. The Chamber can be a voice talking about the positives in our area. We have beautiful, free beaches, incredible dining, and great shops, along with the new Stockton campus, where there are so many opportunities. We have a diverse economy, and we need to share that.”
She sees the Chamber also addressing chronic problems dealing with clean and safe issues in Atlantic City as well as transportation. “We need a government responsive to local businesses, and we need to work with other chambers so we are one voice,” said DeMarco. Looking at the jobs connected to the wind initiatives as well as the $100 million Boardwalk grant, are important to the businesses and residents throughout the region, according to the Chamber Chair-Elect.
Thomas Bracken, President of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, served as the guest speaker for the annual luncheon. He called for everyone to get involved. He also advised them to speak with their bankers. “Commercial business loans are the lifeblood of small business. Stay connected to your bank, know what the trends are, and if there is anything that may affect your ability to borrow for your business,” said Bracken. Working collaboratively and staying involved as a member of the chamber of commerce is a key to success for all small and medium businesses.
Michael Chait also spoke about the importance of working together and staying involved. He highlighted the recent gatherings of the Affiliated Business Associations of Atlantic County which include Somers Point Business Association, Margate Business Association, Brigantine Chamber of Commerce, and the Ventnor Business Association. Under the ABA, each business association retains its local identity and membership but has access to more regional information through collaborative efforts.
There is also promising interest in a group of emerging leaders in local businesses who wish to have greater impact in their communities. “By supporting our young professionals, we will show the community that we believe in the future of Atlantic County and growing its leaders from within,” said Chait. “There is a real sense of collaboration and positivity, and it is incredibly exciting.”
Chait also highlighted the formation of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit focused on education, career exploration, and workforce development. The new framework focuses on collaboration of employers and educators to maximize exposure for students to career pathways across a variety of industry sectors in Atlantic County. “This Foundation will create a talent pipeline of locals as we provide the platform and environment to integrate employers with schools and students. We all prosper and thrive by enhancing accessibility to careers, influential leaders, and groups without barriers,” said Chait.
Chait also emphasized the Chamber’s advocacy work. “We will continue to work with the local leaders on clean and safe initiatives, support for small businesses and the tourism industry, transportation and infrastructure enhancements, support for veterans and military members, and many other initiatives in our region.”
Two areas highlighted by Chait include legislation (Assembly bill 6257/Senate bill 4311) about the $2 room surcharge that has generated more than $8 million for public safety in the city but has not been infused into the city’s public safety budget. Another legislative effort (Assembly Bill 4846/Senate Bill 3456) deals with temporary detention and notification of parents or guardians when a minor is found in possession of alcohol or cannabis. Chait said both issues are of real importance to local clean and safe efforts, and he is sharing the Chamber’s opinion with local and state legislators.
The biggest event of the year, the Atlantic City Air Show, is gearing up. “This is the largest, one-day event in the state of New Jersey, and we are working hard with all our partners to make it spectacular. Wednesday, August 16, is going to be a day we should all be proud of and enjoy.”
To stay connected, visit acchamber.com.
Board Chairman 2023-2025 -John J. Heinz
John J. Heinz III has participated on the Greater Atlantic City Chamber Executive Board since 2014. He is the Owner and President of Concert Quality Production Services Inc., Established in 1992, the company supplies Audio Visual Staging equipment to service the Casino, Corporate, and Festival industries. John has been fortunate to travel the world working with “A” level music artists at some of the biggest shows and festivals in the United States and Europe. In 2015, John established Triax Media Inc., the parent company of a local streaming TV channel, Triax57.com. John also serves the community as President of the Atlantic City Rotary Club, Chair of the Atlantic City Rail Coalition and a transportation committee member of the Atlantic County Economic Alliance. John is eagerly looking forward to working with fellow members of the Chamber to help promote a culture of collaboration, problem-solving, and teamwork to lift our region to the highest levels of economic sustainability and quality of life.
Chamber Board Chair-Elect 2023-2025 – Barbara DeMarco
Barbara DeMarco is a Governmental Affairs Consultant specializing in gaming, technology, education reform and agricultural policy, as well as procurement and corporate development issues.
Since 1994, Barbara has been the only woman lobbyist in Trenton who has consistently represented companies within the gaming and wagering space, including interests within the horseracing, internet gaming, sports wagering, lottery, Esports, and casino industries. She was the lead on a project that resulted in the opening of a world-class data center in the Atlantic City Convention Center. The project was done in a public/private partnership with the NJ Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and her client, Continent 8 Technologies. The data center enabled the first regulated cloud infrastructure for internet gaming and sports wagering in the United States.
Barbara has authored articles, OP EDs, and guest columns on gaming and racing for a variety of newspapers and trade magazines. In recent years, she has been a regular contributor to EGR North America magazine. She also has spoken on various national and regional panels on the topic of gaming and wagering, including ICE London and EGR North America’s Power 50 Summit. Since its inception, her name has appeared on Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg’s list of the most powerful and influential women in Trenton for various news outlets.
A strong advocate for education reform and school choice, Ms. DeMarco believes that every child deserves a quality education regardless of where he or she resides. Barbara chaired the New Jersey School Choice and Education Reform Alliance’s Subcommittees on preschool education and special education for Excellence in Education for Everyone (E3). She has spoken on these issues before The Arc of NJ, E3, and ASAH, among other not-for-profits focused on educational choices.
Economic and business development on the state, county, and local levels is a passion of Barbara’s. She currently represents some of the world’s largest technology interests while at the same time keeping herself up to date on agricultural policy. She is dedicated to keeping the “garden” in the Garden State by advocating for the preservation of the family farm and the land tied to it.
Prior to joining PGA, Ms. DeMarco worked as an independent governmental affairs consultant and lobbyist. She also served as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Nancy H. Becker Associates and Director of Legislative and Advocacy Services for the ARC of New Jersey. In addition, she served as an aide to Governor Thomas H.Kean and Speaker Chuck Hardwick.
Barbara holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Fine Arts from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA.