Buy Local Initiatives: Full Speed Ahead on Year-Round Buy Local Initiatives & Economic Impact Focus

May 25, 2021

Last year, the Economic Alliance pivoted efforts to meet small businesses needs in a challenging year and went all in on buy local initiatives. And this year, we don’t plan on pumping the breaks! In fact, we’ve included year-round buy local initiatives in our 2021 strategic plan.

We fully intend to, and have well begun, implementing buy local strategies to emphasize the value of local commerce. We’re extending buy local initiatives for year-round impact, and measuring small business involvement and economic impacts of the efforts. We also aim to increase business-to-business local spending by featuring more information on what area companies supply and the economic impact companies can have with their spending decisions. Watch for upcoming member spotlights in this Report and beyond to showcase and demonstrate the value of local spending and commerce through substantive storytelling to audiences, even beyond our membership.

Thank you to our exclusive buy local initiative sponsor GreenState Credit Union for their support of Buy. Give. Grow., Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week and our Summer CR Rally. Thank you to the Downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District for their support of the Downtown CR Dollars program, and finally a thank you to Cedar Rapids Bank Trust for their presenting sponsor support of the Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market.

Downtown CR Dollars

Downtown CR Dollars was launched in the fall of 2020 to provide stimulus and incentives for shopping locally in Downtown Cedar Rapids, and is scheduled to run through June 30. As our community felt the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, our local economy struggled. Downtown CR Dollars, supported by the Cedar Rapids Downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District (SSMID), made direct, positive economic impact for our local restaurants, shops and retail, specifically in Downtown Cedar Rapids.

Everyone is eligible to champion and protect their favorite spots in downtown by collecting and submitting receipts from participating local downtown businesses. By submitting $150 in receipts, participants receive two $25 gift cards to participating local downtown Cedar Rapids businesses by mail. In total so far, we received just over $98,900 in nearly 1,526 approved receipts for a total economic impact of more than $141,850 for downtown during a time it has been needed most. Participants have been mailed nearly 1,020 gift cards to enjoy at local businesses for a successful economic impact campaign.

Buy. Give. Grow.

Buy. Give. Grow. presented by GreenState Credit Union was a shop local initiative produced by the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance encouraging support of our local community businesses and organizations this past holiday season and into the new year. With the goal to champion a local-first mindset by shaping our local economic recovery, Buy. Give. Grow. business stories were shared through traditional and digital advertising and furthered with information about how each dollar spent locally returns 3x more to our community than buying elsewhere.

239 member and non-member businesses and nonprofits participated in the program. We wanted to shout from the rooftops all the awesome and unique local options for purchasing gifts, giving and services we have here during the holiday season and beyond! We consolidated over twenty Buy. Give. Grow. participating business stories to tell, and began featuring them on our social channels.

The storytelling journey was a powerful one connecting the audience to the heart of what makes these businesses beat - the people behind them. The community loved hearing directly from business owners about how their support was helping keep their doors open. In case you missed it, we highlight a great message below from Iowa Running Company. Stories like these featured throughout Buy. Give. Grow. were a positive lift and saw high levels of engagement. We hope these efforts resulted in positive attention for all the Buy. Give. Grow. businesses.

"2020 meant more foot traffic (literally!) at Iowa Running Company, the result of an increase in outdoor exercise during the pandemic. And business owners Clifton Trebil-Smith and Jim Dwyer, both longtime running and walking advocates, couldn't be happier.

From Day 1, Iowa Running Company has sought to provide runners and walkers with everything they need to reach peak performance--from footwear to apparel and nutrition. They've also contributed to the Cedar Rapids community in many ways. Every October, they sponsor Socktober, and for every pair of socks purchased in their store, they donate a pair to Willis Dady Homeless Services.

Clifton and Jim are proud to be part of the Newbo District and the resiliency shown by so many district members during the past year. They are grateful for the support of so many amazing customers and have enjoyed welcoming new runners and walkers to the fold. They are excited about bringing the running community together again in 2021. Get those running shoes out!" - Iowa Running Company

We sincerely appreciate the support of our Buy. Give. Grow. media sponsors: The Gazette, Iowa’s News Now, KZIA, KGYM and SmartFM as well as Townsquare Media.

Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week

From running out of specialty menu items and ingredients, to being booked solid in reservations, the overwhelming support from the Cedar Rapids area and surrounding community was felt in full force at local restaurants and beyond during Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week, presented by Buy Local Exclusive Presenting Sponsor, GreenState Credit Union.

While there were many question marks leading up to this year’s highly anticipated annual event, one thing was certain - the Economic Alliance was going to give the community something to look forward to. For seven days, 20 restaurants and establishments treated food lovers to limited time dishes and specials. Things looked a little different for diners this year, as they were provided both dine-in and take-out menu options so scrumptious specials could be enjoyed from the ambience of the restaurants or from the comfort of their own homes.

Throughout the week, a series of eight onsite Facebook LIVE events were hosted by the Economic Alliance and Iowa BIG students at different participating restaurants. Each event had more than 1,600 viewers, each trying to scoop up one of the several gift cards given away each day by commenting with #crrestaurantsweek.

With every to-go order taken, table filled, dish served up, or drink poured, participating establishments were really feeling the love:

“This was probably the best Restaurant Week in the books. People are excited to go out and enjoy the local offerings. We are so proud to see how our community showed up.” -Ana McClain, Lion Bridge Brewery

“We had to turn DoorDash off because we were so busy in-house” -Jordan Caviness, Vito’s on 42nd

“We stayed busy the whole week, which was great!” -Kiley, Lucky’s on 16th

We are thrilled that taste buds, bellies and souls were filled with goodness and joy for both diners and restaurants. The Economic Alliance is honored to be a part of a community that continuously lifts each other up in the toughest of times. With the weather warming, bike paths clearing and patios re-opening there’s little doubt this positive momentum will carry into the upcoming seasons.

Thank you to our Buy Local Exclusive Sponsor, GreenState Credit Union, our Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week Supporting Sponsor Atlantic Bottling Company, as well as our Media Sponsors: KCRG-TV9, The Gazette, Z102.9 and Deetz.

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