A core group of about 20 local business leaders and town officials gathered March 20 to hear about the next phase of a multistep plan to help boost business and the economic status of many local businesses that have suffered under the combination of a general economic downturn and the 12/14 tragedy.
The town’s Economic Development Commission has already organized a “cash mob” activity targeting Sandy Hook businesses that were acutely affected by the school shootings because for many, customer access was prevented or hampered by the crush of media, well-wishers, and curiosity seekers who came to the village shopping district during what would have been a busy holiday season.
The commission also is administering a $500,000 emergency grant program, which was opened up to any Newtown business that could substantiate a loss of profit as a result of business losses in the weeks following 12/14.
The next step, according to Economic Development Coordinator Betsy Paynter, is bringing all Newtown businesses together to promote “The Newtown Way: Buy Local First” — a springtime campaign to inform the community of all the businesses and services available in town.
The program also intends to educate residents about the benefits of buying local and encourage the community to embrace “The Newtown Way” initiative. To that end, the EDC will be publishing a directory of Newtown businesses and services on its website, www.newtown.org, to make it easier for local shoppers to find the services they need right here in their home town
“The EDC wants you to show your pride in being a local Newtown merchant, help promote the campaign and leverage it for your business benefit and success,” Ms Paynter wrote in a letter circulating to all registered local businesses. “This campaign is for you!”
The planned launch date of the buy local program is Saturday, April 27, during the Newtown Earth Day Festival at the Middle School.
Supporting the launch, the EDC will provide Newtown businesses with the promotional materials including:
*Campaign window posters (8.5 by 11 inches) and window decals for their storefront
*Campaign electronic logo to download and use on their website, promotional materials, social media, etc.
*Storefront materials will be delivered the last week of April. Ideally, businesses to display materials by May 1.
Any businesses owners or operators who have not received materials by April 27 can stop by the EDC booth at the Newtown Earth Day Festival to pick them up, or they can contact Ms Paynter at email@example.com or 203-270-4281.
The buy local initiative will also employ additional awareness building media like a Queen Street banner, informational releases in The Bee and a presence at the local Chamber of Commerce’s Destination Newtown event at Rock Ridge Country Club on May 1.
Billboards along Route 25 and additional promotion in The Bee and other outlets are also planned, Ms Paynter said.
In August, for back to school, a new billboard campaign, Queen Street banner, and newspaper/web promotions are planned, followed by yet another Thanksgiving/Holiday push in November and December.
At the same time, Ms Paynter encourages local businesses to leverage and customize the “Newtown Way: Buy Local First” campaign to benefit their own business success. She and EDC organizers want local merchants to tell the Newtown community they are a proud to be doing business in the community.
Ms Paynter said the benefits of buying local first are many. Local businesses create jobs when they have more customers; when a resident spends $100 with a local business $68 of that money stays in Newtown; and businesses are owned or operated by local neighbors.
Residents can save gas, reduce their carbon footprint, and help the environment by shopping local. And the effort strengthens Newtown’s economy and helps maintain the community’s character.
Anyone wishing to help the EDC distribute promotional materials, or merchants with questions, are invited to contact Ms Paynter.