The Digital Development Grant Can Help Your Business Compete Online
24 Jul 2020
The economic recovery tools Phelps County Development Cooperation (PCDC) initiated during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic were just further proof of their commitment and dedication to helping local businesses succeed. In April, as stores were forced to close their doors or limit customer capacity inside, PCDC launched the Digital Development Grant to assist businesses with their online presence as part of their GO! Business Programs.
The Digital Development Grant — which is still open for applications — is a $1000 grant available for Phelps County retailers, restaurants, and hospitality and service businesses with fixed brick and mortar addresses. The money can be used for such things as creating or upgrading a website, and purchasing eCommerce and POS software. It can also be used to advertise, or to purchase or upgrade a GROW Nebraska membership. GROW Nebraska provides its members with benefits such as social media publicity and training, one-on-one consulting, free Third Thursday Trainings (T3), Google Adwords, GROW Micro Loans, the MarkeTech Conference, and so much more.
Denice Swanson, owner of The Drawer Consignment Shop, has already taken advantage of the grant to create an online store. The Drawer, established in 2003, accepts everything from clothes to furniture on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to be offered for a 90-day consignment sale period with consigners earning 40% of the profit. Swanson had always thought about expanding into online sales, but didn’t see an urgent need because for one, she was not financially ready to invest in an online store. The pandemic increased the urgency of that need.
At a point when she was hoping just to make rent because she had to close her doors for four weeks, Swanson said, “This grant opened up the opportunity to move forward with an online store. I am so grateful that PCDC and the Chamber stepped up and helped businesses like mine.”
“Selling online has already increased our sales,” said Swanson. “We have now shipped to over forty-three states in the U.S. The fun thing is, inventory that has not appealed to the local customers is sought after in other parts of the country. This opportunity will improve the consigners take-home pay as well.”
Swanson is thankful to be busy now with foot traffic, as well as getting the word out about her online shop. She believes her new membership with GROW Nebraska will help with promotion, and the expansion of her burgeoning web presence.
While Erin Sandy, owner of The 308 Boutique, has had a website since October of 2017, she used the Digital Development Grant to complete some long-planned upgrades to make her online presence shine even brighter.
“We have always had the plan to improve our SEO [search engine optimization],” said Sandy, “but just hadn't had the bandwidth and manpower to do so. In order for our products to ‘serve up higher’ in Google's world, we had to add descriptions and specific key search words.”
With 99% of their in-store products available online, website sales were up 160% in the month of April according to Sandy.
The 308 offers contemporary outfits, accessories, and even masks (for adults and kids). Now that things are opening back up, Sandy wants people to understand all that The 308 Boutique has to offer.
“We are in the business of ‘RETAILTAINMENT!’” said Sandy. “We guarantee a unique, fun shopping experience and are here to outfit you head to toe. We thrive on events and private parties and hope you come hang out soon in either Holdrege or Elkhorn!”
Take the time to check out these successful businesses and all that the PCDC has to offer to relocate, launch, or improve your own business. Phone for details: 308-995-4148.