By Jack Morrison

I am proud to say the Borough Merchants Association, founded more than 30 years ago by local businesspeople, has blossomed into a vibrant organization: the Princeton Merchants Association.

Today, we are more than 140 members strong and growing and we’ve held on to the founders’ original mission: to create a vibrant and sustainable local economy in Princeton by attracting, nurturing, and maintaining a mix of businesses that serve the economic, social and material needs of our community and make Princeton a great place to live and work.

Part of this mission is to be the collaborative voice of the business community. The PMA gives our vibrant business community a seat at the table to convey a collective and effective perspective. Membership consists of professional services, nonprofits, religious institutions, hospitality, banking, finance, education and retail, employing an estimated 20,000 people in the Princeton region.

Our voice has grown in the past five years. Membership has increased fivefold, yet what still binds the PMA is our pride in Princeton and our mission to maintain, sustain, preserve and grow our community. The PMA preserves and enriches the experience for those who live, work, study and visit our town.

Our mayor and council welcome our voice, and we welcome the opportunity to lend our eye and our minds to what we can do to improve the Princeton experience. This year alone we are actively involved in discussions with our government on tour buses, sign ordinances, parking system improvements, zoning, hours of operation, paid sick leave and street beautification.

You may also recognize some of the work we have accomplished on behalf of our members and our community. We recently launched our Ask First/BYOB campaign, a proactive campaign to reduce disposable plastic bag use by asking patrons first if they need a bag, encouraging patrons to bring their own bags, and implementing multiple recycling drop points throughout town for collection of plastic bags and plastic packaging materials already used.

We have sponsored customer service programs, marketing outreach forums, real estate panels, Restaurant Week, Communiversity, Holiday Choral Singers and Wreaths, and the Waiters Race, a signature PMA event that brings together local restaurants and food establishments to celebrate those who serve rewarding them with great prizes generously donated by local Princeton businesses. Together with McCaffrey’s we co-sponsored a Firemen’s Ball benefiting the Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad ‒‒ the first time these two vital organizations didn’t have to raise funds for their own operations.

The PMA not only works in collaboration with our local government but is also a regional partner with our state government, Princeton University, the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Independent Business Alliance (IBA), an offshoot of the Chamber ringing the bell of independent business and the importance of shopping locally. All this helps Princeton keep its business community’s heart and soul healthy in a world where it’s more and more tempting to just stay home and shop online.

And if you can’t tell by now, we all love it here. It’s not a marketing slogan when we say that Princeton is the best place to live and raise a family, to visit, to work, and to just enjoy ourselves. It’s actually true. I’ve made so many real, deep friendships in all corners of town and in every sector, they’re probably too many to count — police officers, teachers, university staff, business owners, and students. It’s a beautiful tapestry, and I’m proud to be one thread in it.

On behalf of the Princeton Merchants Association board and members, I personally invite you to visit our shops, restaurants and businesses, take in a show or tour a museum, join or support a local nonprofit, and utilize Princeton’s world-class professional services for your personal and business needs. I invite you to see why so many of us wouldn’t even think of calling any other place home.

The Princeton Merchants Association column is provided monthly by the PMA. On the Web: princetonmerchants.org.

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