That’s the core message of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce’s #ShopLocalSafely campaign.
While the chamber has run many such campaigns in the past several years, Chamber President Kathleen Harrington says the stakes are much higher as small businesses struggle during the pandemic. This campaign is supported by many local partners like Mayo Clinic, Olmsted County Public Health, Rochester Downtown Alliance, Rochester Economic Development, Inc. and more.
“Our path forward is one we must take together,” she said Friday during a webinar about the new campaign.
Harrington noted that one in three jobs in the Rochester area are created by small businesses, so the community needs those businesses to survive to retain those jobs.
The “multi-month, multimedia, city-wide” campaign is set to launch in early November with the delivery of #ShopLocalSafely packets with posters and promotional stickers to more than 1,900 businesses. The campaign will include all local businesses, not just chamber members.
The safety piece is as important as the local one, she explained. Olmsted County Public Health is reviewing the COVID-19 plans put together by Rochester businesses and recommending changes where needed.
While restaurants and other types of businesses are also part of the focus, the campaign is starting by spotlighting local retail operations. To compete with the convenience of online retail giant Amazon, the chamber has created “shop-local-safely.com” as a free, local online platform.
“Before they hit Amazon, we want them to hit this,” said Harrington of local shoppers.
The idea is that all Rochester businesses can post important information like what they sell, where they are, if they are allowing customers in the store and what safety precautions they are taking. If a local business offers online shopping, that link will be included.
Sam Gill, the chamber’s director of programs, explained that local business owners should list all of their products and services as prospective customers will come to the site looking for something specific.
The stores can promote the site with posters and stickers in their business as well as one their social media sites. Mayo Clinic is a partner and it will also be promoting the site.
Billboards and commercials will start popping up soon to drive home the message.
“We will be constantly flooding the community about the need to shop locally,” said Harrington. “This is not a one and done. This is the long game. This is part of our path forward going.”