The coronavirus has had a devastating effect on the city of Lincoln and the state of Nebraska. In order to address the impact of COVID-19 on our local economy, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird appointed us co-chairs of the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force.
The task force was comprised of 18 individuals from all sectors of our community. The purpose of the task force was to make impactful recommendations to help Lincoln rebound from the pandemic.
One recommendation we are focusing on is an initiative called the 1% More Local Pledge. The idea behind this strategy is to ask local companies to sign a pledge agreeing to spend at least 1% more locally in 2021. It is a simple but powerful way to recirculate money back into the Lincoln economy in order to help local, small-scale businesses as well as women- and minority-owned businesses.
The impact of an initiative like this is illustrated by a study based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. It showed that local retailers returned a total of 52% of their revenue back to the local economy, compared to just 14% for national chain retailers. The impact was even greater for restaurants, where 79% of local restaurant revenue was returned locally, compared to 30% for chain restaurants. In addition, employment growth, income growth and significant reductions in poverty have been associated with local spending and a strong presence of local businesses in a community.
We, along with Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall, have met with dozens of business leaders to challenge them to take the 1% Pledge. We are proud to report the response from business leaders has been outstanding, with commitments from Nelnet, Runza, Union Bank, Sampson Construction, Speedway Motors, Cornhusker Bank, CHI Health, Assurity Inc., Elite Event Rental and many others. Businesses who take the pledge will be recognized at year-end in 2021. For more information about joining this effort, please visit: https://www.lcoc.com/one-percent-pledge.
We all have a responsibility to help our city and state rebound and to do our part to promote Lincoln’s economic recovery. We can all make a difference simply by being intentional about our spending. As individuals, we can join our business community’s efforts. Please make a conscious effort to stop making purchases on the internet. Stop “clicking,” and start thinking about how to buy local. It really will make a difference!
On behalf of the Mayor’s Economic Recovery Task Force, the City of Lincoln, and local businesses, we thank you for your support and participation.
Angie Muhleisen is president and CEO of Union Bank. Ava Thomas is president and publisher of the Lincoln Journal Star.
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