November 2, 2011
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Martinsville Uptown Revitalization Association has received a three-year grant totaling $249,227 from The Harvest Foundation to fund an initiative to promote shopping locally.
The “Shop Local MHC Initiative” aims to help small businesses better serve their local clientele as well as help entrepreneurs gain access to an Internet-based market for additional local and global selling opportunities, according to a news release.
Joining Martinsville Uptown as partners and coordinators in the initiative will be the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
Those three organizations are thrilled to receive the Harvest funds, said Martinsville Uptown Executive Director Laura Bowles.
“In these difficult economic times,” she said, “the residents of Martinsville-Henry County have the capacity to help improve our economy by putting our money to work where we live. This grant will give us the means to get that powerful message out and create tools to empower local residents and businesses.”
“Buy Local” campaigns across the country are encouraging consumers to keep more of their buying power close to home as a way to support and strengthen their local economies, according to Bowles.
A key component of the Shop Local MHC Initiative is a marketing campaign that will encourage area residents to visit local businesses instead of taking their purchases out of the community, she said.
Entrepreneurs and businesses also will have access to data on purchasing behavior to help identify, better understand and meet the needs of local consumers — information that will be vital as those businesses look for expanded or new entrepreneurial opportunities, Bowles said.
Furthermore, a new web-based commerce portal will provide local small businesses with the ability to access Internet customers, promote their products, and accept orders and payments online — providing ease of accessibility for consumers and entrepreneurs alike, she said.
“This is an exciting program for our community,” said Jeffrey Mansour, Harvest’s senior program officer for community vitality.
“Encouraging consumers to think local first and assisting small businesses to find more ways to meet local needs while helping them take advantage of Internet commerce will result in a stronger, more diverse local economy,” Mansour said.
“Many communities across the country have seen great success with shop local campaigns,” he said. “We are confident our local partners in this project will see equal success.”
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