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Davis, California

Monday, April 22, 2024

Gifting Stimulus Program aims to support local businesses during COVID-19 pandemic

Goal to infuse $100,000 into Downtown Davis businesses

On April 22, the Davis Downtown Business Association (DDBA) launched the Gifting Stimulus Program, which “aims to infuse $100,000 into downtown Davis businesses,” according to a press release

The program’s goal is to support local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether the businesses are open or not, by creating additional revenue for businesses that are members of DDBA. Additionally, the program aims to encourage customers to continue supporting local businesses, such as the ones that are safely and legally open, and to support Downtown Davis once the stay-at-home mandate has been lifted. 

As of the date of this article, though, the Gifting Stimulus Program closed “due to stimulus funds being exhausted,” according to Downtown Davis’ website

Through the program, consumers could purchase up to $50,000 of gift cards or certificates. The purchase of gift cards was then matched by additional stimulus money provided to Downtown Davis businesses, up to $50,000. 

Brett Maresca, the executive director of DDBA, explained the process of matching purchases of gift cards with extra stimulus money for businesses in an email interview.

“Businesses will receive the money for your gift card/certificate purchases plus a match, dollar for dollar, as stimulus money,” Maresca said. “For example, if you purchase a $50 gift card for your favorite downtown business, you will receive the $50 gift card and the business will receive $100 from Davis Downtown (the $50 gift card purchase value + $50 stimulus donation match). Each Davis Downtown member business is eligible to receive up to $1,000 in matched stimulus funds.”

Maresca noted that the gift cards or certificates have to be purchased through DDBA’s web portal for the program in order for businesses to obtain the matching donations.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses has been “shocking and scary,” Maresca said.

Ken Bradford, the co-owner and general manager of Ken’s Bike-Ski-Board, explained the impact on businesses.

“Many businesses were force[d] to close, by government orders,” Bradford said in an email. “Ours was less affected — we provide some essential services — but it has changed the staff available to work, the procedures we use to keep them safe, and the services we can provide at this time.”

Having fewer people than normal in Davis has also had an impact on businesses.

“Not knowing when things will be back to normal, or if an outbreak will occur again in the months ahead bringing more mandates is extremely worrisome,” Maresca said. “Most UC Davis students having left town has also made a huge impact, and if that carries into the fall it will be a much longer road to recovery for businesses whether or not all restrictions are lifted.”

Even though businesses may or may not be closed currently, they still have obligations such as rent, utilities and employees, according to Bradford. 

“We can use the cash now to pay the bills — and deliver the services later (it’s also a promise by the Gift Card purchaser, to come see us when we re-open),” Bradford said. 

Maresca also explained how the cash will be able to assist businesses during a period of uncertainty. 

“The cash provided by both customers and the matching stimulus fund infuses much needed money into our downtown businesses,” Maresca said. “It can help them pay rent, employees, product and supplies, or other expenses of theirs during the shelter-in-place mandate.”

Not only will the program help businesses cover costs, but it will also show businesses the support from their community. 

“In addition, this program has helped boost the morale of our business owners as they see the community rallying behind them and showing their love and support,” Maresca said. “I feel this is just as important if not more than the money itself.”

Bradford also highlighted ways the public can help support local businesses.

“Let your favorite businesses know you can’t wait to do business there as soon as they’re allowed to re-open,” Bradford said. “Ask if they offer dropship, curbside or local home delivery of your favorite stuff, even if their storefront isn’t open (don’t automatically think of Amazon, continue to “buy local” even when that looks different).” 

Ultimately, the Gifting Stimulus Program hopes to garner community support for local businesses and help them in a period of uncertainty. 

Written by: Shraddha Jhingan — city@theaggie.org 


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