It may have been rainy in Howell on Tuesday night, but in the Wells Fargo branch on Route 9 spirits were high at the annual Howell Chamber of Commerce holiday gathering.
With close to 80 representatives from companies all over town attending, the event provided them a chance to meet and network with people they might not otherwise see. With food provided by local restaurants and raffles held throughout the night the people who braved the weather had a chance to have an enjoyable night out.
Branch manager Theresa Bates, who also serves as a co-leader for a Girl Scout troop doing a community service project at the event, said she was glad to have such a big turnout at her store. "It's a fun event and gets everybody together," she said.
Bates added that her branch is proud to be part of Howell, which is evident from the mural of different parts of town on the wall. "This is the first year that we're Wells Fargo so I figured we'd give everyone an opportunity to see it," she said.
Tuesday night's event was just what part of what has been a busy end to 2011 for the chamber. New chamber president and owner of the Chapter House restaurant said the Shop Howell initiative has been an important program for the group. "I know there's a lot of people that are definitely saving their receipts," he said. "Our restaurant and a lot of our members, we have it prominently displayed with what the campaign is on the bottom of the check."
Wingerter said he was glad to see so many of his fellow members come out to Tuesday night's event. "It shows independent business people working together to get through these challenging times," he said. "The state government is trying to do the best they can, the federal government is trying to do the best they can. It's just very challenging for small businesses today."
As he takes over the presidency of the chamber, Wingerter said he has several goals he wants to accomplish. That includes promoting the remainder of the Shop Howell program and then focusing on next year.
He said part of that focus includes working with the town council and the rest of the municipal government on ways to make conditions more favorable to bring more business into town. He also said he hoped to help the chamber grow over the next year to further help the companies working in Howell.
The chamber will be busy for the rest of December as well. This Saturday they will be sponsoring a Breakfast With Santa at 9 a.m. at the Ivy League. Next Friday at 8 a.m. they will host a Breakfast Bonanza event at the Chapter House. They will also host a special event at the old Southard School when State Senator Robert Singer and Assemblyman David Rible will host a discussion about a bill focusing on Group Health Insurance.