Campaign aims to keep stimulus payments at home

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Invigorating the local economy is the aim of a new public-awareness campaign, organizers say.

“Let’s Stimulate OUR Economy” was launched this week by The Tidewater News, in partnership with the Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce, Isle of Wight-Smithfield-Windsor Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Franklin Association and the Smithfield Historic District Business Association.

Steve Stewart, publisher of The Tidewater News, said the campaign is timed with the arrival of federal government “stimulus payments” beginning next week.

“Our conservative estimate is that $7 million will go to households in Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County,” Stewart said. “The question becomes, Whose economy will be stimulate? We can spend this money at home and help ourselves, or we can spend it outside the market and help other communities’ economies.”

Stewart cited several studies showing that a dollar spent locally turns over at least six times n and as many as 15 times n before it leaves the market.

“Consider the impact of $7 million turning over 15 times, or even six times, in our local economy,” Stewart said. “We’re talking about the potential not just to boost merchants’ bottom lines but to create jobs and get our economy out of the doldrums.”

The awareness campaign will consist of a series of newspaper advertisements, articles and commentary. The campaign’s co-sponsors are promoting the campaign through newsletters and e-mails to their memberships.

The sponsors also are seeking resolutions of support from governing boards in area localities. Part of that request will be to declare Saturday, May 24, as “Stimulate Our Economy Day.”

The campaign’s “call to action” phase, Stewart said, is a newspaper special section entitled “50 Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Payment.” Area merchants will feature specific products and services in their advertisements. The section also will give readers the opportunity to win 600 “merchant dollars” to be spent with participating businesses.

“Each advertisement will contain a tiny replication of a piece of currency n $20, $10 or $5,” Stewart said. “Readers will comb through the section, total up the ‘money’ in it, and put their calculation on an entry form at the back of the section. All of the correct entries will go into a hat, and one lucky winner will be chosen for the shopping spree.”

To participate, merchants can call Advertising Manager Betty Ramsey at 526-3187.