VacancyAn empty storefront on West Front Street.

Spurred by surging unemployment and dwindling consumer sales, Red Bank officials are organizing an an economic “summit” of sorts for business owners and residents to brainstorm ideas to help the borough buck the tide.

No date has been set for the event, though it will likely be in January, says Nancy Adams, Executive Director of Red Bank RiverCenter, the downtown promotion entity.

“Basically, it’s a tough economy,” says Adams. “We’re trying to think of ways to help, to be proactive, to try to under the tools that businesses can use, and that we can use” to mitigate the impacts of the national economic downturn.

The summit was proposed by Councilman Mike DuPont, who says he’s spoken to Jerold Zaro, the former state Highway Authority chariman who last month became Gov. Jon Corzine’s chief economic advisor, about attending. DuPont is a commissioner and treasurer of the highway authority’s governing board.

DuPont says he’s also reaching out to Monmouth University for an economic expert or two to attend.

Separately, RiverCenter is promoting its first-ever “Residents’ Appreciation Day” on December 6, when merchants will offer discounts and other enticements to get Red Bankers to shop in town.

“The idea is to encourage residents to come and patronize their businesses, and for the businesses to give a little back to the residents,” says Adams.

A mailing is planned to let residents know about details — including the fact that, while parking meters won’t be bagged, there will be no enforcement of time limits that day.

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