As the COVID-19 pandemic turned our worlds upside down and inside out, Cape May County was in grave danger of losing the entire business of the 2020 summer. Things were uncertain and the community started to panic. The economic stability and longevity of our entire community was at stake.
The Cape May County Freeholders quickly took action to find solutions to a plethora of problems facing the residents of Cape May County. A first major step in early April was the establishment of a Business Recovery Task Force co-chaired by Freeholders Len Desiderio and Will Morey. Respected local business owners and industry professionals were quickly appointed to the task force to assist in developing a plan to safely reopen our County and save our summer. These business leaders and employers knew, firsthand, how much their employees and families would be financially devastated if a closed season and inevitable layoffs were to occur.
Recognizing the complexity of the undertaking, Will Morey took the lead in evolving and expanding the effort into the Cape May County-Wide Recovery Initiative: a collaboration of business leaders, elected municipal and county officials, and health care organizations to ensure a broad perspective and consistent voice. Clearly, achieving consensus from such a diverse coalition is no easy task, no matter how significant the threat.
The task force had its first meeting on April 22, and Will set a very aggressive goal for the group to develop a reopening plan, achieve broad consensus, and submit a credible written plan to Governor Murphy by May 5. This was an extremely short timeframe for such a complex undertaking that could only be achieved with exceptional communication, clear leadership, and total commitment.
The task force’s plan, transmitted in the early morning of May 5, was the first of its kind to be submitted to the New Jersey Governor. Its comprehensiveness and quality earned the Freeholders a conference call with the Governor’s Chief of Staff that same evening. We know from subsequent Task Force briefings and copies of correspondence to and from the Governor’s office, that there was continuous lobbying of the Governor’s Chief of Staff directly, as well as other key staff members, to gain the approval for full implementation of our plan in time to open businesses for our core summer season.
We are proud to have served on the Business Recovery Task Force and know full well that our work made a difference. Any notion that Cape May County and/or the Freeholders sat passively during the critical period of lobbying for the opening of our businesses is simply not correct.
Fact is, Cape May County led when and where it mattered. In our view, it made an important difference.
Allen D. Carter, Jr - Agriculture
David Craig - Restaurants
Anthony J. DeSalle - Banking
Casey Halverson - Technology Industry
Kathleen DiGuglielmo - Real Estate
Scott Turner - Campgrounds
Joe Bogle - Retail
Jacqueline Mauro – Salons
Ordered and paid for by Morey and Pierson for Freeholder, 943 Central Avenue, Ocean City, NJ.