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Opinion: Love Your Local This Holiday Season
This year, local, small businesses have been faced with many unprecedented challenges. The impact of COVID-19 on small businesses has been nothing short of devastating as owners have had to innovate and reimagine their operations considerably when COVID-19 hit the community in March. Restaurants, like Jeri’s Midtown Café and Catering with Care, shifted to takeout, gyms, like Sweat Therapy Fitness, moved to online classes, and retailers, like the Midtown Reader bookstore, added home delivery. Leon County Government and the City of Tallahassee, through the Office of Economic Vitality (OEV), have consistently supported our local business community during these difficult times by enacting three grant programs, the COVID-19 Economic Disaster Relief (CEDR) grant, the Local Emergency Assistance for Non-profits (LEAN) grant, and most recently the Leon CARES Small Business Assistance grant.
We are proud of the assistance that we provided to nearly 800 businesses representing more than 6,700 employees in Tallahassee-Leon County through these three grant programs, however, these businesses still need our community’s support – and you can help! It’s simple – Love Your Local! Shop, experience, and explore the many local retailers, restaurants, and independent, small businesses right here in Tallahassee-Leon County on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and throughout this holiday season.
This year, before you travel to a national store or shop with an online retailer outside of our community, OEV encourages you to Love Your Local and, of course, to do so safely. Small Business Saturday is a wonderful opportunity to continue to support your favorite brick-and-mortar shops and discover some new local favorites. From curbside pickup and delivery to purchasing gift cards and even shopping online, there are many ways to safely “Love Your Local.”
The money that you spend locally stays local. In fact, according to a 2018 Small Business Economic Impact Study, for every dollar spent at a small business in the U.S., approximately 67 cents stays in the local community. By supporting small businesses, you’re helping your neighbor, supporting area families, and improving our community. Be sure to let the community know that you’re participating by sharing on social media using #LoveYourLocal and tag OEV (@OEVforBusiness).
Small Business Saturday means a little more to our local businesses that have been faced with many COVID-related disruptions. Through these challenges, small businesses continue to be there for our community as a whole. Just like our small businesses have always been there for us, let’s be there for them and Love Your Local this Small Business Saturday and every other day.
For more information on Love Your Local, visit www.oevforbusiness.org/lyl.
Cristina Paredes brings over 15 years of local government experience, with the past seven years focused on growing the economy in Florida’s Capital Community, including her role as director of the Office of Economic Vitality. She earned a Bachelor and Master of Public Administration from Florida State University and is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) with the International Economic Development Council.