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Boston rewards citizens for shopping locally to aid recovery

Using the B-Local mobile app, shoppers earn rewards automatically at hundreds of participating local businesses across the city which can be converted to cash discounts.

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Mayor wants to use the city's collective purchasing power to support local businesses
Mayor wants to use the city's collective purchasing power to support local businesses

The City of Boston is introducing a points-based programme that offers rewards for shopping locally in a bid to support the economic recovery of its neighbourhood commercial districts.

 

The goal of B-Local is to support local business recovery by incentivising Bostonians to spend locally. By using the B-Local mobile app, shoppers earn rewards automatically at hundreds of participating local businesses across the city when they make purchases with registered credit, debit, or prepaid debit cards linked to their B-Local account.

 

These rewards may then be applied as cash discounts to a growing list of redeeming businesses. All rewards are reimbursed by the City of Boston and there is no cost to users or businesses.

 

Economic backbone

 

According to the City of Boston, the programme developed in partnership with Colu Technologies, will provide critical support to local businesses as they recover and the city reopens, while also promoting diversity and equity.

 

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they need our help to recover from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. This dynamic programme is a proven and powerful economic tool. By creatively leveraging federal Cares Act funding, the City of Boston can support local business owners, reward local shoppers, and drive a stronger recovery,” said Kim Janey, mayor of Boston.

 

“I urge my fellow Bostonians to exercise their city pride through our collective purchasing power to support local businesses as they recover from the pandemic. By supporting your favourite local businesses and exploring new establishments across our city, you can make a real difference.”

 

In Akron, Ohio, Colu reports its ‘Akronite’ app recently generated more than $200,000 in local business sales, harnessing more than 4,000 users and 170 local businesses in a six-month period. Money spent locally stayed in their community and boosted the economy by a factor of nine, Colu claims. Boston is the first major US city to launch this programme.

“As an innovation hub, Boston is proud to leverage a creative programme with a proven record of bringing city residents and small businesses together to drive our local economic recovery”

Shoppers earn rewards at restaurants, retail stores, cafés, gyms and yoga studios, salons, and more. Shoppers can then redeem their Boston Points as discounts toward future purchases.

 

“As an innovation hub, Boston is proud to leverage a creative programme with a proven record of bringing city residents and small businesses together to drive our local economic recovery,” added Midori Morikawa, interim chief of economic development.

 

“Boston is committed to an equitable recovery of our small and local businesses. B-Local will highlight the stories and experiences of our business owners to connect with residents, particularly those owned by women, immigrants, and people of colour who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Business owners have demonstrated tremendous resilience throughout the pandemic and with B-Local, we as residents can make a real impact to help as they reopen and recover.”

 

To date, 269 businesses have signed up to participate on B-Local. Outreach to businesses, led by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development Small Business Unit, has ensured an equitable representation of business owners, as well as even distribution across neighbourhoods, the City reports.

 

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