Well before COVID-19 was ever on the radar for Louisa, the Louisa County Chamber of Commerce was working with Eddie Brown (Giving Words), Kristin Hicks (Nourish Louisa and Dapper Cat Coffee) and Greg Dorazio (Dorazio Communications) to develop a plan to help small businesses increase traffic and revenue by collaborating with nonprofit organizations.
Chamber Executive Director, Tracy Hale Clark recommended a 12-week strategy to support one nonprofit each week, with several businesses donating a percentage of sales back to that organization. Consumers that made a purchase or multiple purchases each Saturday would be eligible for a weekly $100 drawing and a grand prize drawing of $1,000 at the Louisa Street Festival, originally scheduled for June 13.
Two weeks before the program was to launch, the world and the way we do business changed forever.
With the forced closures of so many businesses and the stay-at-home order, many businesses were suffering. The chamber quickly contacted other leaders in the community including the county government, the towns of Louisa and Mineral and the Lake Anna Business Partnership to unify behind several initiatives.
“The chamber is here to assist any business during this unusually difficult time,” Clark said. “As a unified community we can overcome any challenge.”
Louisa Gives Back was originally designed to drive foot traffic for member businesses and was adjusted to an online store to assist any business in the county. To participate, businesses had to agree to donate between five and 15 percent of proceeds from the 10-day online gift certificate sales to a Louisa County nonprofit organization of their choice. The nonprofits agreed to promote their business partners and the community was encouraged to purchase gift certificates enabling them to give back to the businesses, the nonprofit and themselves with a chance to win $500.
The response was overwhelming. Forty businesses participated with just under $20,000 in gift certificate sales. Donations back to the 14 nonprofit organizations will occur throughout the month of May with several businesses exceeding the 15 percent contribution.
“Thank you to the Louisa County Chamber of Commerce for the creation of such an innovative mechanism to partner with area nonprofits and encourage community support during a difficult time!” said Hicks.
Contributing partners Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, the County of Louisa, Commonwealth Life and Legacy Counsel, Fifty-Third Winery, Lake Anna Linens and Walmart DC #7016 provided the prize money for two $500 awards to consumers and two $500 awards to local participating businesses.
Louisa resident Carolyn Jondahl and Louisa County Supervisor Eric Purcell were the consumer winners. Nourish Louisa received $500 as the business with the most referrals during the campaign and Lake Anna Tractor & Hardware was the random business drawing winner.
“[This was a] great campaign for Louisa and the causes they support. Glad to be a part of it,” said Dave Drillock, of Fifty-Third Winery.
The chamber has also been negatively impacted during this time. The Louisa Street Festival, its largest event, has been postponed and the Businessperson of the Year dinner has been moved to June 25. Despite these changes, the chamber continues to offer support, initiatives and resources to serve Louisa County businesses and community.