Keep It In York County
In 2013, the York County EDA launched its Buy Local initiative and website, appropriately titled Keep It In York County. The campaign aims to educate local residents about the direct benefits to them from buying local and to encourage them to do so whenever possible. It also served as a marketing tool for York's existing businesses.
We're excited to take our buy local program to the next level! We have partnered with the Retail Alliance and are offering a new grant. Retail Alliance, a nonprofit trade association serving all of Hampton Roads, created the “LOVEVA” (pronounced “love-uh”) program in 2014 to support local business. Central to the program is its app, which allows shoppers to collect rewards at any participating local business—unlike typical loyalty programs that only work at one store or chain.
“You can shop at one store and get rewarded at another—that makes it really unique,” said Kylie Ross Sibert, vice president of corporate communications for Retail Alliance. “The app really is banding together businesses across Hampton Roads. I haven’t seen another app that lets you do that.”
This new partnership creates an easier pathway for participation—especially on the financial front. The Economic Development Authority is offering York County businesses a 50% grant for the $145 listing fee with LOVEVA. Since small businesses often lack the budget and infrastructure of larger companies, the LOVEVA program affords them many opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. The app and website, as well as Retail Alliance’s extensive marketing campaign, provide businesses with a loyalty program and a directory of local businesses. It also includes metrics to measure the effectiveness of LOVEVA in their overall marketing efforts.
The County’s existing “Keep It In York County” program will now merge into this regional buy-local effort, making it easier for residents to keep their money within their community. LOVEVA provides a one-stop shop for finding local businesses, and its website explains to shoppers why buying local directly benefits them and their community. The site also hosts a community calendar, to help promote local events, sales, and specials.
“Rather than duplicating efforts in individual localities—each with its own buy-local program, website and marketing efforts—LOVEVA allows us work smarter and make a bigger impact collectively,” said Jim Noel, economic development director for the County.
To be considered “local” under the program, the business must meet at least three of these five criteria:
1. Is the business owned locally and independently?
2. Are decisions made locally?
3. Is the business headquartered locally?
4. Did it originate in Hampton Roads?
5. Is it privately held?
One York County business that is already participating in LOVEVA is Simply Unique Jewelry Designs on Highway 17. Owner Tim Wright, a former board member with Retail Alliance, is enthusiastic about having more local businesses take part. “The more people who use the app here, the happier retailers will be,” he said. “I use it myself, and what I’ve received in rewards are well worth what I put in. You can bring the rewards you’ve earned to my store and get a special offer—right now we’re doing $25 off any service or product purchase. You don’t have to go to my business over and over … you can go to the local hardware store or the florist, and then use the reward anywhere you want. For the small cost as a business, it gets results!”
For more information on this program, visit www.KeepItInYorkCounty.com today, or contact the York County EDA at 757-890-3317. View the press release (PDF).
The Keep It In York County campaign logo was graciously donated by Arcphor Strategy, a York County-based company.