Joined by Mayor Dina Long and business owners, Governor Chris Christie unveiled a new cabinet-level office to focus on post-storm rebuilding efforts. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)


Governor Chris Christie came to Sea Bright Friday afternoon, making his second visit to the storm-ravaged community since Hurricane Sandy struck. But while his first visit was a gesture of support to the beachside borough, this trip was all business.

At a news conference in the borough firehouse, Christie stood in front of a signs from local businesses including Bain’s Hardware, Woody’s Oceanfront Grille and Sea Bright Pizza to announce and lay out plans to help businesses that were affected by the hurricane. These include, he said, the creation of a new cabinet-level position – the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding – and the formation of a business impact assessment group, designed to aid businesses on a personal level.

Throughout his brief appearance at the podium, Christie stressed the importance of small businesses to to every community, as well as its importance to the rebuilding of the state.

“As small businesses, you are the backbone of our Garden State economy,” Christie said, addressing the small business owners that lined the wall behind him. “We depend on the jobs and revenue you generate to keep New Jersey moving.”

The governor stated that the business assessment group would create a survey of businesses in an effort to guide government and industry leaders in understanding what resources and services individual businesses need to get back up and running. Christie also stressed that the state would come to businesses themselves in order to get this information, and not the other way around.

“The survey will begin this weekend, with an on the ground effort of volunteers,” Christie said.

The overall impact of the storm, estimated damages, and previous experience with disaster relief services would be some of the many topics covered in the survey, according to Christie. He also vowed to call out any officials or organizations that stood in the way of recovery because of partisan politics.

“The lieutenant governor and I remember everyday what a privilege it is to have these jobs, and that you sent us here to actually do something, not just to get our pictures in the paper, but to actually get something done,” he said, in reference to Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, of neighboring Monmouth Beach. “That’s what we intend to do. We’re not going to let politics get in the way of it, from any party,” he said.

At least two small business owners present, Cono Trezza of Sea Bright Pizza and Chris Wood of Woody’s Oceanside Grille, said they were impressed with the governor’s speech.

“I think he really speaks from the heart and doesn’t pull any punches,” Wood told redbankgreen, “and I believe what he says.”

“It was very positive, and very powerful as well,” Trezza said, “He gave me a little bit more hope and even more incentive to get back out there and build up Sea Bright better than ever.”

Christie  commended Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long, for her reaction to the disaster and the town itself as a model of responsible recovery.

“Sea Bright is rising: so is New Jersey” he said.