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We're thrilled to post the next installment in our new series, Local Business spotlight!🔆

This month we shine the spotlight on Full Circle Training at 14 East Mulberry Street in Millville. Traci Iwaszkiewicz and Lisa Swift grew their business from an idea at the kitchen table into a central part of our local healthcare community. Together they draw on years of experience and an unwavering commitment to excellence in each and every training session.

Learn more about Full Circle Training in our interview just below.

The modern, comfortable training center at Full Circle Training.

Guided By Expertise, Driven By Generosity

Traci and Lisa worked together at the Department of Corrections, and even after retirement they remained close friends. They shared a mutual drive to stay active and to support our community. "We were talking about the next steps at the kitchen table one day. We knew we wanted to keep busy, we knew we wanted to support our community, and we knew we loved our work in training, so we just decided to create Full Circle Training and go for it!"

It was one of those pivotal conversations that entrepreneurs know well.😎

Full Circle Training opened its doors in June 2019, and just a few short months later it went on to support Millville during a healthcare challenge of staggering magnitude.

Working Through the Pandemic

While Traci and Lisa couldn't have foreseen COVID-19, they quickly positioned their business for maximum support of healthcare professionals on the front lines. CPR and First Aid are two prominent examples, as they are necessary skills for healthcare professionals to maintain their certification. Full Circle Training decreased the size of its training sessions, raised funds to purchase more equipment for safe individual use by participants in the sessions, and just kept pushing forward, despite the risks. In another sign of persistent work for the greater good during a crisis, Full Circle Training just recently became an official training site with the American Heart Association!

As the pandemic begins to subside—not one moment too soon—Traci and Lisa plan to expand their training accordingly to security officers who will play a key role in the reopening of retail shops and schools.

Two student perspectives on the training session, as a healthcare professional and as a security officer.

A Virtuous Cycle of Community Support

Traci and Lisa make clear in their reflections on Full Circle Training that the local community in Millville played a critical, meaningful role in their success—from businesses and nonprofits to professionals and residents.

For example, Lisa previously volunteered at the Holly City Development Corporation and soon learned about the Creative Enterprise Center within the same building. When it came time to select a headquarters for Full Circle Training, Traci and Lisa appreciated the turnkey capability of the Creative Enterprise Center and the "phenomenal" guidance of HCDC along the way. They started with training sessions in the hallway for just a few participants, but soon negotiated for beautiful additional space, which they captured in the pictures above. Giving to the community through HCDC eventually led to operational support from HCDC, which in turn brought more good to the community in a virtuous cycle.

Traci and Lisa sometimes cross paths with former participants from their programs, such as staff at the local doctor's office, and they're eager to integrate Full Circle Training even more tightly with our community through upcoming public events. They explain, "If you find something that you really enjoy and give it your all, you never know where it can go." It's inspiring advice, and as we've learned from our interview, when we go together, we can go far.

We're honored to work alongside Full Circle Training in our city and look forward to its continued success!✅

We're thrilled to introduce our new series, Local Business spotlight!🔆

This month we shine the spotlight on MGM Carpet & Flooring at 23 North High Street in Millville. Owned and operated over the past 10 years by George Martinez and his family, MGM is an inspiring example of the power of perseverance, quality, and generosity.

Please enjoy our recent interview with George just below.

The storefront of MGM at 23 North High Street in Millville.

The Story Behind the Storefront

Before the turn of the century, George and his family, including a brother and a sister, grew up in nearby Delsea Gardens. He therefore always felt a strong personal connection to Millville, and years later he would remember fondly his childhood in Delsea Gardens while visiting the town on work projects.

George actually got his professional start with horse farming in Estell Manor, but he says it was "basically a 24/7 job", and soon he felt the drive to try something new with more time for raising a family and for engaging with the community. That drive arose in George 20 years ago, and since then he's been honing his craft in carpet and flooring. He moved back to Millville in 2006 with his family and started MGM just a short while later, building his reputation for excellent quality, one job at a time.

Meaningful Local Experiences

While he derives great satisfaction from his work with customers through MGM, George also gets involved with the local community through his motorcycle club, where he rides a Harley. George explains that the motorcycle club gets him out into town among his neighbors. If he sees an opportunity for a learning moment along the way—say a group of youngsters getting into mischief—he and his fellow riders aren't shy about sharing some advice, respectfully and sincerely. It's a kind of informal mentorship that speaks to George's role as a community leader, both in business and in life generally.

Parting Advice for Future Small Business Owners

"Build relationships with other local businesses, because you never know what doors are going to open." A great example would be running out of a material on a job site. Thanks to his friends in the industry, George always can rely upon them to swing by and spare extra materials for the day.

Another piece of advice? "Take advantage of programs out there to support your business, even if it's just to get yourself started." Of course HCDC couldn't agree more!😄 We have a number of programs that help small businesses in Millville, but it doesn't stop there. Just a little research reveals even more grants, loans, and other programs that aim to build up our town through finances and guidance.

In the same way, MGM builds up our town through craftsmanship and mentorship, and we couldn't be more proud to have this business, George, and his family here alongside us.✅

On March 22, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy took the opportunity to connect by phone with the owners of our various small businesses in downtown Millville. The topic of the day was the NJDCA's Neighborhood Preservation Program ("NPP").

As a champion for small businesses in downtown Millville and the NPP Coordinator for the City of Millville, we at HCDC couldn't be more excited by Governor Murphy's outreach!

Per his tweet that same day, Governor Murphy especially enjoyed a conversation with Eric Nyman, owner of local favorite, Wildflower Vegan Cafe. Check out the following segment of the Governor's press briefing from March 24 for details.

As for HCDC and its administration of the NPP, we have some inspiring updates to share about downtown Millville over the past year. Thanks to funding through the NPP, as well as additional funding through the Coronavirus Relief Fund ("CRF"):

  • We retained 88 full-time jobs and 22 part-time jobs.

  • We kept 32 local businesses open with those jobs.

  • We invested a total of $337,398 in those local businesses.

This monetary investment covered several powerful programs, including:

  • Direct grant assistance to 26 businesses in the amount of $253,125

  • A four-part series on business survival for 15 businesses at a value of $5,000

  • Matching gift cards that generated $50,000 of cards to support purchases at 16 local businesses

  • $5,200 worth of PPE masks and sanitizer for two local businesses

And the year isn't over yet! We still plan to approve another round of forgivable business loans by mid-April, and we're eager to celebrate our perseverance together with Community Dinner Under the Stars, which will bring together residents for delicious take-out meals from three local restaurants in early May.

Looking ahead to next year, we have much more in store for the NPP! Stay tuned for further updates from us, and in the meantime, we thank Governor Murphy and his staff once more for their enthusiastic support of our city during an unprecedented challenge.

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