Vermonters put $425,000 of stimulus money to work purchasing cards for nearly 1,000 businesses
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) announced Sept. 10 that the BuyLocalVermont program is now fully subscribed and $425,000 is on its way to 959 locally owned businesses. The pilot program, funded through an allocation of the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), launched to consumers at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
At the time the program opened, 1,052 businesses from every county were vetted and approved to be a part of the program. Ninety-one percent of those businesses (959) will receive money from the program from the deals consumers selected. In total, 20,857 Vermonters activated verification codes and 11,847 received discount offers to local businesses in their communities.
“We saw robust interest from the Vermont business community and an overwhelming show of support from tens of thousands of Vermonters yesterday morning,” said ACCD Secretary Lindsay Kurrle. “The success of this program shows that Vermonters want to participate in our economic recovery and that businesses are eager to market themselves to new customers. For this program to sell out and send $425,000 directly to local businesses in a matter of hours is a great success. We also recognize thousands more Vermonters wanted to participate in this program, and we’ve proposed an expansion of the program to meet that interest.”
During registration Tuesday, codes were sent to consumers in the order in which they were requested. Once the codes were sent, offers were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. To ensure equity in the program across counties and business sectors, funding was allocated to different regions of the state. Ensuring equity slowed down the issuing of the codes, as so many were seeking to participate at once. Offers in Chittenden, Franklin, Washington and Lamoille counties sold out quickly, while other regions had offers available later into the day.
In addition to equitable geographic distribution across the state, the program was also designed to encourage consumer spending in the hardest-hit sectors of the economy. Discount offers ranged from $10 at fast-casual eateries to up to $150 at lodging establishments.
Participating businesses received an average of $436 each through the program and funds will be sent to the participating business immediately. Customers who received deals will have until Oct. 31 to redeem them. Kurrle said she anticipated Vermonters will spend two times the amount of their offer when they redeem their deals, leveraging at least another $425,000 of economic stimulus for cash-strapped businesses. As of Wednesday morning, 650 Vermonters had already redeemed their offers.
ACCD has proposed expanding the pilot program through a $50 million request of CRF funds in the governor’s 2021 budget being debated in the Legislature. ACCD will continue to update these numbers and issue additional details in the coming days.