Chamber sends out a holiday challenge

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce encourages local spending year-round, but the holidays are a time when its programs and events focus on it even more, officials explained.

The goal of the chamber is to be a valuable resource that helps all of its members have as successful a holiday season as possible and to promote to residents the importance of local spending, according to Tricia Maple-Damewood, president.

The chamber recently announced its Chamber Challenge for the 2018 holiday season.

“Sometimes it helps to give people ideas for specific things that they can do to help,” Maple-Damewood said. “So, rather than just promoting the overall concept of buying locally this holiday season, we came up with a simple list of three action items.”

The first challenge, she said, is to purchase at least one-fourth of your holiday gifts locally. Shoppers should seek out and explore local businesses, think outside the box for unique items and, if they are purchasing gift cards, they should be purchased from a local business. If you must purchase gift cards to a national chain, purchase them at a local grocery store, Maple-Damewood explained, which will keep the dollars somewhat local.

Second, area residents should patronize a business they have never been to before.

“From downtown Steubenville to Hollywood City Center, Toronto, Mingo Junction, Richmond and everywhere in between, there is no doubt a new (or longtime) business that you’ve never been to. Make it a point to seek at least one out and make a purchase, meet the owner or manager and give them a chance to earn your repeat business,” said Maple-Damewood.

Third, if you are headed out of town for any reason, gas up at a local gas station and eat locally before you leave — “Fill your tank and your belly locally and on a regular basis and those dollars add up,” Maple-Damewood said.

The chamber is sponsoring its annual Shift Your Shopping receipt contest, and it is open to everyone. To enter, keep all of receipts from local purchases (Jefferson County only) that are made between Nov. 1 and Dec. 25. For every $50 spent, one entry is entered in the drawing for $500. Submit the form and receipt copies online at jeffersoncountychamber. com, or by mail to the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, 630 Market St., Steubenville, OH 43952. When mailing receipts, include your name and phone number, Maple-Damewood said.

She added research is proving something that many people already know: Small-scale, locally owned businesses create communities that are more prosperous, entrepreneurial, connected and generally better off across a wide range of metrics.

“More money stays in the community, local jobs are created and sustained, the local community and economy are strengthened, quality of life is improved and customer service is enhanced. Buying locally just makes good sense and the holidays are a great time to start making it a daily habit,” Maple-Damewood said.

“I say it all the time but it’s worth repeating,” she continued. “We can’t expect our local businesses to support us, our kids’ activities and sports teams, our churches and charities, our events and fundraisers and then not support them when making a purchase. It’s unlikely that Amazon is going to give you a gift card for your spaghetti dinner door prize table and doubtful that a Pittsburgh business is going to buy an ad in your school’s football program. Support those who support you and think local first.”