Gateway Regional Chamber Of Commerce Names 2009 Businesses Of The Year

ELIZABETH – What recession?  Three Union County businesses that ignored the economic drums of doom and enjoyed successful years in 2009 were recognized by the Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce at the chamber’s 98th Annual Dinner, held Jan. 26 at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car was named the Large Company of the Year; AmeriHealth New Jersey earned Medium Company of the Year honors; and Villani Bus Company was recognized as Small Company of the Year.


Richard Bagger, chief of staff for Gov. Chris Christie, was keynote speaker and offered the crowd of 400 business professionals a promise of an improved business climate for New Jersey under the Christie administration.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car rents more than 1 million cars annually and operates 7,000 offices through the United States and Europe, yet prides itself on being a local, community-minded company, according to Woody Erhardt, regional vice president.  The company’s local offices are active in community endeavors.

AmeriHealth New Jersey provides health insurance coverage to employers and individuals throughout New Jersey through one of the largest provider networks in the state and earned top ratings for customer service and quality of care as part of the state’s recent health plan performance report.

Villani Bus Company was founded in 1920 as a jitney service for local laborers in Linden and soon established the #44 bus line between the Linden and Elizabeth railroad stations that still runs today.  The company remains a local business with a familiar tagline – “If you need a bus, call us.”

While Enterprise, AmeriHealth and Villani Bus remained strong in 2009, the year was not as kind to many other of the state’s businesses of all sizes and Bagger addressed their concerns in his keynote speech.  He stated that the Christie administration is committed to reducing the size of state government, implementing fiscal restraint and restoring common sense to the regulatory environment that greatly impacts the state’s business community.

“New Jersey can again become a home to growth,” he said.  “Restoring fiscal sanity is an important step.  Another important step is introducing regulatory reform…New Jersey’s problems weren’t created in a day but we don’t have a day to waste in getting New Jersey back on track in making (the state) a home for growth.”

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