Dillon plans new stimulus, expands business grant program
Dillon officials are continuing to look at new ways to help residents, stores and restaurants stay afloat amid the ongoing financial hardships brought on by the pandemic. The newest idea is providing funds directly to residents to spend at local businesses.
Dillon’s Marketing and Communications Director Kerstin Anderson presented to Dillon Town Council members on Tuesday, Jan. 19, a pair of potential programs meant to provide incentives to encourage residents to get out and spend money at local stores and eateries. One idea was a matching funds program, similar to the Love Frisco, Shop Frisco program, in which the town would provide matching bonuses to residents who purchased gift cards to use in town.
Instead, the council decided to pursue a simpler program, in which the town would provide residents with a $50 gift card that could be used only at local businesses.
“Essentially, we’d use our email distribution, our property owner list, our water bill list to reach out to those residents,” Anderson explained. “We’d be able to sign them up via phone or email, and they would get a card sent to them that would tell them what locations they could use it at. … The benefit is we could do it very quickly, it would be very targeted, and there’s not a lot of marketing costs behind it.”
Anderson said the initiative likely would cost between $60,000 and $90,000 and that she expects to return to council with contract details sometime next month.
Council members also discussed some additional nuances they’d like to see included in the program, such as making the cards transferable so that residents could give them to others in need, and putting caps on single purchases to make sure people use the cards more than once.
“I’d hate for someone to spend $50 and get one meal,” council member Steven Milroy said. “… We want people to go multiple times. … I think it all sounds great. Hopefully, it helps to drive people to restaurants and businesses and get them spending a bit more money to help them through these times.”
Business grant program
In addition to the new gift card initiative, the town also decided to expand its business assistance grant program.
In December, Dillon launched a grant program offering up to $10,000 to help restaurants make mortgage or rent payments. In early January, the town expanded the program to include other local businesses, such as gyms, movie theaters, recreation centers and other personal services. As a requisite for the grants, businesses had to show they had suffered a revenue decline of at least 20% compared with 2019 due to capacity limitations.
The most recent grant cycle kicked off with about $130,000 in funding, and the town has received qualified applications for about $53,000, according to Finance Director Carri McDonnell. She said a pair of businesses approached the town seeking exceptions to the grant requirements, one of which fell just below the 20% revenue decline threshold and another that dealt in ski and snowboard rentals that believes it should have been included as a personal service.
In lieu of granting any exemptions, the town decided to implement another grant cycle, this time opening things up to businesses that can show a decline of at least 15% in revenue compared with 2019 numbers as well as opening applications up to retail businesses.
“I don’t think this would generate a bunch more applications, but I do think it might get some money to some people who haven’t gotten anything from us so far,” McDonnell said.
Businesses can apply at TownOfDillon.com/business-resources/small-business-loan-program.
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