One of the few bright spots of living through the pandemic is the renewed sense of shopping and supporting local. I have been so encouraged the last 18 months as the Ames and Story County community has come together in a commitment to support our neighbors.
Last year around this time, we ran our second “Buy-In Story County” gift card program which poured $30,000 into our local businesses in just two days. Earlier this year we launched the Community Cash program – a year-round online program that offers gift cards redeemable at any of our participating members. With over 30 current participants, gift card recipients have the option to redeem their cards at retail stores, restaurants and bars, hotels and even North Grand Cinema. Community Cash is a great option for an employee gift or for that person on your list who is especially hard to shop for.
Community Cash not only does it take the pressure off the gift-giver, but it also keeps spending dollars in our local economy. Did you know that of every dollar spent at a locally owned business, about 70 cents stays in the community? Less than 40 cents of dollars spent at non-locally owned businesses stay local. The extra money in our local economy means more resources for our schools and local programs, preserves our local character, and creates more jobs in our community. As you do head out to our small businesses, keep in mind that many are facing staffing challenges, so I urge you to exercise patience for one another.
Looking for other ways to get engaged and support local businesses and organizations? Join in on upcoming events throughout the community. Downtown Ames is celebrating Snow Magic throughout December and will be kicking things off on Friday, December 3 with a holiday tree lighting at 6:00pm in Tom Evans Park. There will be carriage rides, Santa visits, children’s activities and more throughout Downtown. The Ames Chamber of Commerce and affiliate organizations will be celebrating our 2021 Annual Award Winners on Wednesday, December 8 at Prairie Moon Winery. Help us honor these influential members of our community and join us for dinner and the awards ceremony. Finally, we will be commemorating 2021 at our Annual Event on December 15 at Sukup Endzone Club. There will be dinner, drinks, laughs and a little bit of magic as we bring 2021 to a close and look ahead to the amazing things in store for Ames, Boone and Story County in 2022. Learn more and register for these events on our website at AmesChamber.com.
Finally, you can support local by paying it forward in our community. Drop your change in a donation box, pick up a few extra groceries for a food pantry or simply hold a door for a stranger. As we continue to build and nurture our local community, we will continue to be recognized as the Smart Choice to live, work and play.