PCDC Launches Economic Recovery Tools

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

HOLDREGE – Two new PCDC initiatives will give a boost to local businesses that are seeing reduced foot traffic and sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phelps County Development Corporation’s Economic Recovery Plan includes the Magic Multiplier Gift Card incentive and Digital Development grants.

The gift card program is a partnership between PCDC and the Phelps County Community Foundation, who will each match the value of every gift card purchased at Phelps County businesses to help the business owners and local neighbors in need. If a customer purchases a $50 gift card, the business owner will receive $100 (with a $50 match from PCDC), and another $50 will be matched by PCCF to support local non-profits working with individuals.

“When consumers spend $1, they are generating an additional $2 to the business,” Tillery said. “We are essentially doubling the value of that gift certificate to the business.”

Graduation, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift cards purchased in April could mean the difference between some businesses closing their doors or remaining a viable business.

“That advantage is that it’s putting money in the cash register now when they need it,” Tillery said. “The next two months are going to be the toughest. If we can inject another $75,000 into the economy in the next 4-6 weeks, I’d be happy.”

The program is made possible by PCDC redirecting some of its LB840 funds into these programs. PCDC has budgeted $75,000 for the Magic Multiplier gift card program.

PCCF will direct its matching funds from gift card purchases to the Phelps County Disaster Recovery Fund.

“I cannot wait to see how our community reacts to this,” said Kara Faber, executive director of the Phelps County Community Foundation. “I am so excited that we were all able to join forces in such an important and innovative way.” 

Faber said the foundation can’t grant directly to businesses or individuals, so it will work with organizations that can. The foundation’s initial focus will be on giving to organizations that help people with basics needs, such as food, medical prescriptions, rent and utilities.

“Residents should know that purchasing gift cards now really helps businesses, but it’s also helping the community at the same time,” Faber said.

The Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce is also partnering on the program and offers a page on its website where customers can purchase online gift cards from area businesses.

For the second part of the economic recovery plan, PCDC is setting aside another $25,000 in LB840 funds for digital development grants to help business owners begin or amp up e-commerce platforms.

“The development grants are more of a long-term fix for businesses that are not online or have a minimal online presence,” Tillery said. “We want them to take advantage of how business is going to change after this immediate crisis passes.”

PCDC will offer grants up to $1,000 to Phelps County retailers, restaurants,  hospitality and service businesses with fixed addresses to create a website or online store, advertise an online store, purchase point-of-sale software or become a member of GROW Nebraska.

As more consumers are adapting to online shopping during the pandemic, the trend of online shopping will likely continue after the crisis is over.

“This is a business boost,” said Carley Bruning, PCDC’s Director of Business Services. “The times have changed, and business owners need to change with it. If they already have a website and they need to pay for the next level, this grant can help with that, too.”

Businesses may also apply for the grant to pay for membership into GROW Nebraska, a non-profit organization based in Kearney that provides marketing opportunities, education, and training to launch and connect Nebraska businesses to the global marketplace. GROW provides online and in-person marketing training and can help businesses launch e-commerce sites. The organization has more than 400 members and also provides financial support through microloans and grants to low-income entrepreneurs.

The grant would pay for GROW Nebraska membership dues for one year for first-time GROW members or for add-on GROW services for current members.

“The GROW Nebraska option is a really good one for small business,” Bruning said. “It exposes business owners to new markets, and there are continuous trainings and contact to expose them to new ideas.”

Business owners are encouraged to call Bruning if they have other ideas on ways to boost their businesses with development grants.

To apply for the development grant, business owners should visit https://www.phelpscountyne.com/about-us/go!-programs to download an application.

Because of the new economic recovery plans, PCDC is temporarily suspending the GO! HOME and GO! DREAM programs. All applications for those programs that are already submitted will be considered, but no new applications will be accepted at this time.

For questions or more information about these new tools, contact Ron Tillery at Ron@PhelpsCountyNE.com or Carley Bruning at Carley@PhelpsCountyNE.com or call PCDC at (308) 995-4148.

The Phelps County Development Corporation works together with investor partners to grow a vibrant Phelps County economy. PCDC’s work includes attracting residents, recruiting new and retaining existing businesses and manufacturers, securing a quality workforce and promoting Phelps County as a great place to live, work and conduct business. PCDC is funded through private investors supplemented by program income from LB840, approved by voters, which directs city sales tax proceeds to economic development.

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