One of my favorite aspects of Ames and Story County is the community spirit. From annual festivals and celebrations to local sports to food drives and fundraisers, there is no doubt that our residents are committed to creating a vibrant community for all.
Last year we saw this on display as we navigated the uncharted waters of living through a pandemic. There were bear hunts, sidewalk chalk messages, neighborly check-ins, and a unified call to support local business. When we launched the Buy-In Story County Program, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Our team put in dozens of collective hours preparing the technical side of the program, connecting with sponsors who wanted to do their part, and getting the word out to the community.
On March 25, we held the first flash sale with 500 $30 gift cards available for $20 each. We sold out in an hour.
The sponsorships flooded in. Over the course of the next week, we sold over an additional 3,500 cards supporting 94 local businesses. In all, over $107,000 was immediately infused into our local economy.
We knew we were on to something. In November, we brought the Buy-In Program back for a second round and to no surprise, it was as successful as it had been in March. Another $30,000 was poured back into our businesses in just two days.
This April, we are pleased to launch our new program, Community Cash, as the long-term solution to keeping our spending dollars local. Community Cash is a digital platform that allows customers to purchase gift cards in increments of $5, $10, $20 or $25 and redeem them at any of our participating members. Think of it as an open-ended gift card! Gift cards can be purchased on the Ames Chamber website and with each purchase, you will receive a unique QR code or numeric code that will be scanned at check-out.
The program is designed to help us all shop, eat, play, and give local. By investing in our locally owned small businesses, we are helping Ames and Story County maintain our unique culture and supporting our friends and neighbors. More money in our local economy means more jobs, more products and services, and more overall growth. As we grow, there will be more funding for schools, towns, medical centers and amenities for residents and citizens.
I encourage you to be on the look-out in the coming days for more information on Community Cash. This is truly a win-win for our community; businesses will be directly and positively impacted, and residents are able to intentionally support local. We believe Community Cash has the potential to become the currency of choice in Ames and Story County and we look forward to watching the program reach new heights.