September 21, 2023

What is the Washington BID? | A Conversation with Melanie Thiel | Warren County NJ Business Support

Have you been hearing about the Washington BID and wondered what it was all about?

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Executive Director Melanie Thiel. She has shared so much with me on how this amazing non-profit organization helps business owners while partnering with local government in Washington Borough of Warren County, New Jersey.

A Talk With Melanie Thiel of the Washington BID (Business Improvement District) in Warren County, NJ

HHNJ: Hi Melanie, and thanks for taking a moment to share with me today! Your title is Executive Director of the Washington BID or Business Improvement District in Washington Borough, Warren County NJ. It’s great to learn about your amazing organization! I’d love to find out more about what you do in your work for and with the community.

To sum up info found on your website, the Washington Business Improvement District (WBID) is a non-profit organization that brings together local business and government to promote opportunities, enhance the shopping experience, and preserve cultural, historic, tourist and civic interests.

Can you give a few examples of recent work you have done in support of your mission?

MT: Hi, and thank you! The BID has secured grants for new trash receptacles for along the streets in the Downtown District through the USDA. We have also secured a grant for installment of an electric car charger to be placed in the municipal parking lot in the middle of town. This will be the first in Warren County.

We also have a sign/façade grant program for businesses for half the cost up to $1000.00. In the past year we have granted over $8,000.00.

HHNJ: What happens on a typical work day for you as the executive director of the Washington BID?

MT: Lately it’s been many Zoom meetings which hopefully will go back to in person soon. I walk around the business district to see what’s happening and talk to the business owners. I work on the events that we run, I look for sponsors for those events through phone calls and emails.

HHNJ: We would love to hear info about people and organizations you have helped during the coronavirus pandemic. Feel free to highlight a project or two that you are especially proud to have been a part of.

MT: The BID advertised for the Washington Borough business community on a whole with seven banners around town stating our shops were open and ready to serve you. We also advertised on WRNJ radio out of Hackettstown, NJ and started to plan our Spring/Summer events. We are part of Sustainable Jersey and are very proud of that. The BID also passed on all the COVID relief information available to businesses.

HHNJ: What sorts of issues and challenges do you tackle in your ongoing effort to support local businesses in the community?

MT: It was difficult since Warren County did not receive any CARES Act funding during the first round because of our low population. The money went to larger areas of the state. This was a big blow to all Warren County businesses because the majority of them are extremely small. Many with no employees at all. Owner/operator and that’s it. It was hard for some of them to understand that our hands are tied and the BID can’t give out money, it has to come from the State/Federal level.

HHNJ: What advice would you give to a local business owner who is looking to establish a presence in the area?

MT: DO IT! Warren County/Washington Borough especially, is an up and coming business district. Many families are moving out here to get out of the city since COVID. The housing market is booming and those people want to shop and dine and be entertained close to home. It’s the perfect time to invest in a new business and get in on the ground floor of the new wave of residents.

HHNJ: What’s the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your job and why?

MT: I love planning events that bring people into Washington Borough. It’s exciting to see the crowds, come hear the bands and discover our shops and restaurants.

The businesses are happy that new customers can experience what they have to offer even if they don’t purchase anything that day, they may come back another time to shop or eat or get their dog groomed or their own hair cut.

HHNJ: Name a typical challenge faced by Warren County business owners. Describe how you might work through that challenge to create a beneficial situation for all parties.

MT: Convincing local residents to shop and dine here and not travel to Pa or more Eastern NJ. We have everything here, just try it! Advertising is probably the best solution.

HHNJ: Who has influenced you the most in your current position as director of the Washington BID?

MT: I have to say, the former BID Director who I worked under for one year. It was a transition to his retirement and me taking over as Executive Director.

HHNJ: What inspired you to move forward with your dreams and plans to revive local business?

MT: I have always wanted to see downtowns thrive. I have never been a big box shopper or online shopper. I support local. Downtowns are fun!

HHNJ: What can a Washington Borough and surrounding Warren County resident do to help support local businesses?

MT: Patronize them! Shop locally, eat locally, buy gift cards locally as presents. These are the businesses that support our kids’ sports, our scout troops, our school activities so we need to support them.

HHNJ: Point us in the direction of some upcoming events. How can community members get involved? What should we be aware of as pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic?


Rock & Roll Steampunk Fair Washington NJ May 8, 2021

Our first event of the season is our inaugural Rock & Roll Steampunk Fair on May 8 throughout the Downtown. We have three bands and lots of vendors. It’s something that will attract a younger demographic to the Borough.

Washington NJ Farmers’ Market Opening Festival June 19, 2021

Our next event is our opening day of the Farmers’ Market on June 19 which is in conjunction with our GreenFest and Arts, Crafts & Music Festival. We have live bands all day, artists, craft vendors and lots of fun. The Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday through October 2 from 10:am to 2:pm after that.

Festival in the Borough Sep 18 2021, Washington, NJ

The last and biggest event is Festival in the Borough on September 18. Three stages of live music throughout the Borough, food trucks, art and craft vendors, kids activities from 10:am to 10:pm.

There’s also a beer garden sponsored by the fire department as a fundraiser for them. The community is welcome to volunteer with set up, clean up, sitting at the BID booth and greeting the patrons. Our Farmers’ Market is always looking for Saturday volunteers even if it’s only once in a while!

HHNJ: Feel free to share anything else you can think of, including links to important resources, pages on your website and such.

MT: Our website is and we do lots of social media on Facebook and Instagram under Washington BID. Our office number is 908-689-4800. If anyone is interested in starting a business in the Borough we can tell you what you need to do.

Annual Business Recognition Reception on April 1 Hawk Pointe Golf Club

We also have our annual Business Recognition Reception on April 1 at Hawk Pointe Golf Club to celebrate the accomplishments of our business community and our community supporters from the area.

We are limited to 80 attendees this year and are close to a sell out as of today. People are ready to get out and about again so “Meet Me In The Borough” for family friendly businesses and fun!

Contact Melanie Thiel

Melanie Thiel, Executive Director
Washington Borough BID
21 Belvidere Ave.
Washington, NJ 07882
908-689-4800 office
908-689-8444 fax