City Gives $30 Coupon for Shopping Locally

Not THIS city…Lancaster, California. The CityNorthfieldFirstRally.JPG Council in that community voted to take $500,000 from a reserve fund to stimulate consumer spending…and locally. Anyone who spends $300 at a business in Lancaster will get a $30 gift card from the city.

In today’s Wall Street Journal, there’s an article titled “Cities and States Take Stabs At Reviving Local Economies“. The piece outlines the efforts of local governments to support their local economies in these challenging times. In addition to the shop local gift cards, Lancaster is covering vehicle-registration fees for anyone who buys a new car in town.

Other communities are pursuing different ideas. Newark, N.J. is using $1 million trust fund to guarantee bonding for small-scale contractors hoping to get a piece of the federal construction spending. New York, N.Y. is offering office space with computers and kitchens for $200 a month per person and seeding a $3 million “angel investment fund” for start-ups. San Francisco is accessing federal funds to offer small businesses $23 million in no-interest loans.

These unusual times call for non-traditional programs. Anyone in the Locally Grown network have some creative ideas to offer our City Council?


  1. Jerry Bilek said:

    they could use Northfield banks to invest in cds instead of companies in St. Louis. keep the money here in town so the banks can then loan it to Northfielders for home, auto and business loans. it should be a safer investment as well.

    March 11, 2009
  2. Tracy Davis said:

    I’m not sure how the admin aspect of something like this would work out, but…

    When I was at Rare Pair and saw their gift cards – pre-loaded with a particular dollar amount, then swiped through a card reader – I thought, might it be possible to have “Shop Northfield gift cards” could be sold for, say, $90 but have $100 worth of value loaded on? The retailers would in effect be agreeing to a 10% discount across the board, but it would be worth it to provide the incentive.

    Of course this depends largely on getting a critical mass of downtown retailers on board, and there might be some technical things to iron out, but it WOULD be doable.

    March 12, 2009
  3. Jerry Bilek said:

    that’s a great idea. I’ve been wishing for a program like this. It can be done. the obstacles are technology and cost. Every merchant has to be able to sell and accept the cards. booksense now indy bound cards work this way. you can use them at independent bookstores around the country. unfortunately the program is very expensive to administer.

    I’m still hopeful the discount cards will take off.

    March 12, 2009
  4. Julie Bixby said:

    Tracy and Jerry,
    The Events & Marketing Subcommittee of the NDDC is working on this very idea. Hopefully we will have something figured out soon.

    March 12, 2009
  5. norman butler said:

    Does this ‘shop locally’ campaign include services such as lawyers, CPA’s, insurance agents, plumbers, landscape gardeners etc. etc. and does it extend to services engaged by City Hall such as builders, the trades, consultants, vehicle dealers and repairers etc. etc?

    March 21, 2009
  6. Tracy Davis said:

    Norman, why should it? I don’t think service businesses have quite the same issues.

    March 22, 2009
  7. Julie Bixby said:

    Tracy, the issues may/are different, but it keeps the money in Northfield.
    We are also trying to encourage people to ‘Be Local’.

    March 26, 2009
  8. Ross Currier said:

    Norman –

    I’ve used a local attorney, a local accountant, a local insurance agent and a local plumber in recent years, and a local flooring guy, a local tree guy, a local appliance gal and a local contractor too.

    Perhaps of interest: I heard from some local contractors and subs that they were disappointed that most of the work on The Crossing was done by metro area firms.

    I can recall both Lee Lansing and Arnie Nelson making comments over the past few years about increasing efforts by the City to “Keep Your Money in Northfield”.

    I think the guiding concept should be “Think Northfield First”, try to obtain the goods or services in Northfield first, if it’s not possible or doesn’t really make sense, drive to Dundas next.

    • Ross
    March 26, 2009

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