Local cities use COVID relief funds to help community businesses

In response to COVID-19, the federal government provided state, local and tribal governments with financial assistance. Here’s a look at how two cities in our community (Santaquin and Payson) used the money to provide much-needed financial assistance to local businesses. The program also helped residents discover the many great small businesses within their own communities. 

Santaquin and Payson both decided to adopt a coupon-based program designed to encourage residents to shop with local businesses. Though the two cities’ programs were similar, they did have a few minor variations. 

Santaquin City mailed out envelopes containing four $10 coupons to 3,880 residents within the community. The coupons could be used at any participating local business during the month of September. 

The only thing Santaquin residents needed to do to participate in the program was to bring their coupons with them when shopping locally and present them at checkout. The business then took the coupon amount off the total purchase price. Businesses collected all vouchers from customers, then turned them in to Santaquin City for reimbursement with money from the CARES act. 

Ben Reeves, Santaquin City Manager, explained that Santaquin residents had the opportunity to spend all coupons at a single location, or spend them at different locations in order to earn an additional $10 coupon. 

Reeves said the idea for the program initially came from Herriman City, but it was tweaked to meet the unique needs of the community. Under the direction of Christ Lindquist, the City’s Emergency Manager, Santaquin City hosted a meeting with many local business owners to gather their ideas about how CARES money could best serve the community.

The program was received with a great deal of gratitude. In all, 51 local businesses participated. They included a combination of store-front and home-based businesses. The city received a very positive response from both residents and business owners. In the end, the program helped Santaquin inject nearly $100,000 back into the local economy through local businesses.

“More importantly,” Reeves stated, “these stimulus funds likely had a multiplying effect as most people chose to make larger purchases than what was covered by the coupons.” Reeves pointed out that the program has also likely helped many residents learn more about the great businesses in their own community. 

The city hopes the practice of buying local will continue into the future. 

Like Santaquin, Payson also mailed out coupons to residents. Each household received five $10 coupons redeemable at participating local businesses. 

Residents had the option of spending all the coupons in one place or using them to support five separate businesses. 

If they spread the coupons out across five businesses, they could enter to win one of seven checks worth $200 each. The city had more than 1,500 entries. 

About 100 local businesses participated in the program, and the feedback was resoundingly positive. Kevin Stinson (with Payson City Business Licenses and Development Services) headed the program. 

Stinson visited several businesses throughout the program’s duration to see how everything was going. 

Many employees expressed great excitement about the program and said they had seen a lot of coupons come in. 

They also reported greater revenue and a higher number of new customers. For some businesses, the coupon program helped them keep their doors open when they might not have been able to otherwise. 

Residents also enjoyed the program and expressed their appreciation to the city. Stinson said, “We had many residents respond with letters and cards thanking us for helping them and our local businesses during these unique times.”

Due to the success and overwhelmingly positive feedback from members of the community, Payson City is considering other ways it can continue encouraging residents to support local businesses. The city is appreciative of the amazing local businesses that make Payson such a great place to live. (Peterson is a Serve Daily contributor).

Shellie Peterson
Shellie Petersonhttp://Ewritingstudio.com
Shellie Peterson is a mom, wife and freelance writer. She currently lives in Santaquin with her husband and daughter. In her spare time, she loves to sing, read, write and spend as much time as possible camping.

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