Last week. the online program was launched as a means to support local businesses as they try to recover from the financial effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Eager to support the initiative and take advantage of a great deal, consumers hopped on to www.VisitMeckVa.com/ShopLocal, and purchased $22,000 in gift cards. The program then matched each purchase, dollar for dollar, until the $22,000 matching fund was completely depleted. 82 businesses across Mecklenburg County participated; 1100 gift cards were sold, and this program generated $44,000 in direct funds to small businesses in just under 2 hours.

Tina Morgan, Mecklenburg County Tourism Coordinator said, “There is no way we could have anticipated how fast the funds would go. We knew they would go quickly, but no one expected just how quickly! We were overwhelmed by the response and are very thankful to have the opportunity to help our small businesses through this coalition of Chambers who just wanted to do something meaningful.”

“How amazing is it to own a business in a town and county that CARES about the well-being of your business, not just every day, but especially during trying times. The Chambers and the County worked together and came up with a very forward-thinking gift card matching program that not only helped support local businesses, but also helped local consumers as they try to navigate present hardships.” said Shannon Facchina, Owner of Caring Hearts Academy, South Hill. “We are very blessed to be part of such an amazing community.”

“This group put together an amazing program to help small businesses. We could not be more thankful for all who made this possible and for you, the consumer who jumped in to support us.” ~Mary Beth

Bova-Burgess, Owner of A Cross the Nations, Clarksville.

The CIA committee consists of representatives from Mecklenburg County Tourism and the Clarksville, South Hill, and Chase City Chambers of Commerce. The CIA committee would like to extend a special thank you to their funding partners: The Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors, and the Chase City, South Hill, and Clarksville town councils. Also, a special thank you goes out to Virginia’s Growth Alliance, who was responsible for building the shopping platform that was used to run the gift cards through. It takes an intelligent system to do this sort of thing and the ShopLocalVGA.com site stood up to the challenge. The platform is free for all businesses located within the VGA member region. Glerin Business Resources, the site’s developer, was absolutely instrumental in helping tackle all of the technical details of this project.

Planning is underway to secure additional funding for a second round. “At this time, we invite organizations, localities and even private donors to come forward and keep the momentum going through the creation of a new round of matching funds. This program has proven to help businesses as well as consumers in a big way and we would love to see it continue”, said Brentley Morris, President of the South Hill Chamber.

If you are interested in funding a “Round Two” please contact Tina Morgan, Mecklenburg County Tourism at 434-738-6191.