WALL TOWNSHIP — The Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce announced last week that it has been forced to postpone its inaugural Women’s Conference this year due to COVID-19 indoor gathering restrictions.
The conference, originally scheduled for April 29 and 30, will now take place on Nov. 17 and 18 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel in Asbury Park.
The conference is to be the first of its kind with the goal of bringing professional women from the shore and across the state together. The news is disappointing, Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce President Corrine McCann Trainor said.
“It’s very disappointing,” she told The Coast Star. “We were prepared to move forward with a small amount  of people when conferences of this size in normal times we would expect 400 or 500 people.”
Ms. Trainor said that the chamber decided to host this conference after professional women across the country have experienced a difficult year as a result of the virus, having to make decisions between home caregiving and their professional careers.
The chamber planned for the conference to not only be an opportunity for networking and professional development, Ms. Trainor said, but a chance for women to share their experiences and lessons learned over the last year.
“Women have taken a real hard hit,” she said. “Professional women who are also caregivers have really borne the brunt of the economic tumultuousness. The openings, the closings. It keeps changing for us,” she said.
“We have people that have actually had to close their businesses because they have kids or other family members that they’ve had to care for in the last year. And that’s not OK with me. I want to make sure when those women are ready to reopen their businesses that the Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce is here for them.”
In addition to being an important conference for those in attendance, Ms. Trainor also said the chamber had hoped the conference could even help spark some life into Asbury Park’s service economy which has had a tough year as well.
“The Jersey Shore really needs an event like this where we’d be able to pay bartenders and servers, a band, comedians and those who provide promotional services and of course the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel.
“We were really hoping to bring a lot of commercial activity to the Asbury Park area for our members and for people who will be attending. So we’re very disappointed that we’re not able to do that because the governor has not seen it fit to allow indoor gatherings for business conferences.”
Scheduled to speak at the conference [with more to be announced] in November are CEO and President of Fulfill Kim Guadagno; author, playwright, lyricist and retired dancer Rosemary Novellino-Mearns; and TV personality and author Caroline Manzo. The event is not exclusive to women.
Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Evelyn Mars said the rescheduling was disheartening.
“We were really looking forward to getting things started again this spring and thought it would be a great way to bring everybody back, but obviously that wasn’t in the cards for us in New Jersey. So we’re very happy to reschedule and not cancel and do it in a safe way,” Ms. Mars said. “We’re hoping that it will give women an opportunity to get out and do some networking and promote their own businesses.”
Ms. Trainor said that she is confident that the conference will be able to go on as rescheduled this fall, and hopes by then all children will be back in school lessening the burden on professional women who are also caregivers.
“I’m hopeful. That’s all I’m willing to be. We understand that schools may reopen completely in September that women’s ability to get back to work will be easier.”
For more information about the Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce visit https://jerseyshorechambernj.com.
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