Magic Multiplier Infuses Nearly $200,000 Into Local Economy

1 May 2020

PCDC’s economic recovery programs infused nearly $200,000 into the local economy in April.

On Friday, May 1, the Phelps County Development Corporation awarded $41,244 to Phelps County business owners, bringing the total Magic Multiplier program distribution to $94,042. Those funds matched $94,042 in gift certificates purchased from area retailers, restaurants and service businesses between April 1 and April 17.

PCDC has also awarded $9,584 in digital development grants to ten businesses, making the grand total of the money pumped into the local economy $197,668.

“The community stepped up, and I believe that PCDC provided meaningful financial support to more than 70 individual businesses, not to mention the emotional buttressing from the programs at a time of great stress,” PCDC Executive Director Ron Tillery said. “Now, it’s time to shift from survive mode to thrive.”

The Magic Multiplier program started April 1 and was one part of PCDC’s economic recovery plan related to the COVID-19 pandemic. PCDC planned to offer the program through April 25 but suspended it on April 17 after funds were exhausted sooner than expected.

PCDC originally allocated $75,000 to help local businesses most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The program encouraged residents to purchase gift cards from Phelps County businesses, then PCDC doubled the value of every gift card. If a customer purchased a $50 gift card, the business owner received $100 ($50 from PCDC and $50 from the customer).

The Phelps County Community Foundation also matched gift card purchases with its funds going to the Phelps County Disaster Relief Fund to help people with basics needs such as food, medical prescriptions, rent and utilities.

The Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with an online gift-card purchasing platform on its website.

Business owners were allowed a maximum of $2,000 in Magic Multiplier program funds, or $1,000 for each cycle. Two days after the first cycle of checks were distributed (on April 15), the number of applications received had already exceeded the remaining funds available by nearly $20,000.

The PCDC board of directors authorized reallocation of $9,000 from its Digital Development Grant program and the transfer of an additional $10,000 from reserves to meet the demand for the magic multiplier program.

“We have honored every request submitted by the day we announced suspension of the program,” Tillery said.

PCDC had originally budgeted $25,000 for Digital Development Grants to help business owners begin or amp up e-commerce platforms.

The $1,000 grants encouraged Phelps County retailers, restaurants,  hospitality and service businesses impacted by government imposed health measures to create a website or online store, advertise an online store, purchase point-of-sale software, or become a member of GROW Nebraska or the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce.

To date, PCDC has awarded digital development grants to ten Phelps County businesses with another pending approval. Approximately $6,400 remains available in the fund to assist Phelps County businesses improve online capability. PCDC will accept applications in this program until funds are exhausted.

As the economy begins a phased reopening PCDC remains alert to evolving needs in Phelps County and it is actively cultivating business opportunities that have arisen or that have been accelerated by COVID-19. “Many of the challenges facing existing businesses could be softened or remedied by growth in Phelps County. It’s important for us to be vigilant and encourage pro-growth remedies for our market, if we hope to thrive in the future,” Tillery said.

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.