Iowa City, Iowa – September 21, 2020 – The Holding Our Own shop local gift card incentive program is nearing the end, but has proven to have made a big difference in driving business to local retailers and restaurants hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Initiated by Project Better Together, this campaign offered a free $20 gift card for every $150 spent at a locally affected business the shopper receives a voucher for a $20 gift card to one of 166 local businesses and $5 is donated to the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and Immigrant Business Grant Fund.
As of September 18, 949 individual submissions have added up to $517,000 in local spending and $63,000 in local incentives since late June. $51,950 was provided to BIPOC/Immigrant Business grants to 33 local businesses.
“The program has allowed me to show much appreciation to the customers who provided their loyalty and support during the downturn,” said Naa Tackie, owner/manager of NaNa’s African Boutique and Gift Shop in Iowa City. “The program provided much needed funds for my small-business to encourage me to stay open during these times. It has been very valuable.”
“Our local financial institutions saw this as a great opportunity to spur local spending to the businesses most affected by the pandemic,” said Jim Conard, market president of West Bank and Project Better Together steering committee member. “It is encouraging to see that so many people used this program to shop local, eat local, and check out new businesses. The way in which we support one another in Johnson County is really extraordinary.”
As the popularity of the program has grown, the incentive funds are waning down. Officials believe the program funds will be all used up very soon and encourage those planning to submit their receipts should do so right away.
“It’s bitter sweet to see the program come to an end,” said Nick Kaeding, Senior Vice President with Think Iowa City. “It has provided the spark our local businesses needed and opened up new markets for those wanting to try something new. The gift card program spurred that interest.”
Full details on the Holding Our Own shop local gift card incentive program can be found here.