LEAD — Times are tough, but Lead is tougher.
That’s why the Lead Area Chamber of Commerce has instituted its newest “Tough Bucks” program, designed to stimulate local business during the coronavirus quarantine.
With this program, which runs through April 30, patrons who send their receipts for purchases made at any Lead or Central City business will receive 10% of their purchase back in “Tough Bucks” vouchers. These vouchers can be used at any business member of the Lead Area Chamber of Commerce, even if that business is located outside of Lead. The businesses have until Dec. 31, to send those bucks in to the chamber for reimbursement.
“It’s a stimulus program to encourage people to keep spending money,” said Lead Area Chamber of Commerce Director Sierra Ward. “We are specifically worried about retail businesses and restaurants, because those are the ones that are getting hit pretty hard.”
Ward said the stimulus program exempts all grocery and gas purchases, “because we assume people are buying those things already.” It does include purchases made from local direct sales representatives, however Ward said chamber officials would use their discretion when issuing vouchers.
Ward said she has been encouraged by the consumer response to the program. “I did have someone already tell me they spent $300, so they’re excited to submit that for (vouchers),” she said.
“I’m willing to spend several thousand dollars that we might have put towards another event later in the year,” Ward said, adding that funding to pay for the stimulus program is coming from the Chamber’s special events budget, which funds the annual Gold Camp Jubilee celebration. “This is definitely more important. The Fourth of July is awesome, but this is time sensitive. This is reallocating some of our event money and money that we’ve received from sponsors. The more we can get money moving around, the better.”
Ward added that she appreciates local and state officials’ hesitancy to shutter businesses during the quarantine. “Naturally businesses are going to have to close, but I like that they didn’t force the issue,” she said. “I think a business should be allowed to operate as long as they can.”
Already, several Lead and Central City businesses have announced temporary closures amidst CDC warnings for people to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 virus. Health officials are urging people to stay home, in an effort to try and contain “community spread” from the highly contagious virus. Ward said the timing of the coronavirus is highly disappointing, since late last year the city of Lead reported record high sales tax numbers.
“I hope this is over soon because it would be really disappointing to have done so well and then kind of hit the bricks, and all of those mom and pop businesses that we started would have to close,” she said. “That would really be heartbreaking.”
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