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Some of the Chambers in Action creators pose with their CIA badges. Pictured from the left are Sheila Cuykendall, Clarksville Chamber of Commerce; Tina Wood, Chase City Chamber of Commerce; Tina Morgan, Mecklenburg County Tourism; Shannon Lambert, South Hill Chamber of Commerce; and Brentley Morris, South Hill Chamber of Commerce.

 

The South Hill Chamber of Commerce, The Chase City Chamber of Commerce, and The Clarksville Chamber of Commerce, along with Mecklenburg County Tourism, have united to form “Chambers In Action”, a joint initiative established to assist local businesses in remaining viable during and after the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The project will kick off with a special gift card program that will match purchases dollar for dollar, giving consumers a great deal and local businesses much-needed revenue to assist with payroll, utilities, online platforms, and marketing initiatives. The requirements of non-essential closures due to the pandemic has adversely affected most small businesses. Loss of on-site/in store revenue has been devastating and has forced many to furlough employees temporarily, and in some cases permanently.

The Chambers in Action program will build an online shop where Gift Cards to local businesses will be sold. The program is open to all locally owned, non-franchise, retail, restaurant and service-based businesses located in Mecklenburg County. Although a membership to your local Chamber of Commerce is encouraged, it is not required to participate.

Businesses may join the program at VisitMeckVA.com/ShopLocal. Once they have registered, the online store will go live, and shoppers may visit the same website to purchase gift cards. The CIA program will match each purchase, dollar for dollar, for as long as the matching fund lasts. That means that for each $20 unit purchased, the customer receives a $40 gift card to be redeemed when the time is right, and the business receives that $40 now, when cash flow is needed the most. After the matching fund is depleted, customers will still be able to purchase gift cards at face value for as long as the business wants to participate. Because funding is limited, businesses are encouraged to sign up immediately to get approved to participate.

Funding for this program is made possible through support from the Mecklenburg County Board of Supervisors, who recently approved a request from Mecklenburg County Tourism to re- allocate a portion of the tourism budget to establish the program. The Town of South Hill, the Town of Clarksville, and the Town of Chase City all jumped on board to contribute to the matching fund.

These combined contributions total $22,000, which, with the help of this program will turn into a $44,000 stimulus for local businesses across Mecklenburg County. Individuals or organizations that would like to contribute to the matching fund in lieu of buying a gift card, may do so by contacting Tina Morgan, Mecklenburg County Tourism Coordinator at 434-738-6191. 

“Obviously the more funds we can put into the matching portion, the more businesses we can support. We would love to grow the program as much as possible; our small businesses are the backbone of our communities and we want to help them as much as we can,” says Morgan.

Planning is also underway to secure additional funding to provide marketing assistance, training in the development of online marketing/purchasing platforms, and the development of business plans to help local businesses continue to thrive following the current challenges resulting from the pandemic.

The Chambers in Action initiative was developed by and will be managed by the CIA committee staffed by two leaders/board members from each chamber, and by a representative of Mecklenburg County Tourism. The online store is made possible by Virginia’s Growth Alliance; ShopLocalVGA.com is a free e-commerce site available for any business located in the VGA footprint to sell products or goods online.

For more information, or to support this valuable program, visit VisitMeckVA.com/ShopLocal or contact any of the following managing members; Chase City Chamber of Commerce, Tina Wood, 434-372-0379; Clarksville Chamber of Commerce, Sheila Cuykendall 434-374-2436; South Hill Chamber of Commerce, Brentley Morris, 434-447-3191; and Mecklenburg County Tourism, Tina Morgan, 434-738-6191.