• Kristina Harrold

Coming Together During COVID-19: Partnerships Supporting the Local Economy

A bright spot amid the chaos of social distancing, face masks, and virtual workspaces is witnessing organizations and local governments coming together to provide support to their neighbors. Because the coronavirus pandemic has so deeply affected our daily lives and ability to work or make an income, anchor institutions across the country are forming new partnerships to support the economic wellbeing of their community.


Here we highlight a few ways that partnerships are supporting local economies:




Financial Support


City of Boulder, CO and local philanthropists created a grant to support small businesses. The City of Boulder established a $200,000 challenge grant and local philanthropists, Dan and Cindy Caruso and the Zayo group added another $50,000 to the support qualifying Boulder small businesses in their continued safe operation during the immediate pandemic health crisis (COVID-19) and near-term response.


In Topeka, KS public and private funders created the HOST Program (Helping Others Support Topeka), which buys products or services from local businesses via gift cards, to give to residents recently unemployed due to COVID 19. After only a few weeks of operation, they have raised nearly $500,000 in private funding and have been approved for $1 million in new small business grants from The Greater Topeka Partnership and GO Topeka, the economic development organization of Topeka and Shawnee County.


The Tulsa Responds Task Force is helping connect organizations and businesses to relief funding from local, state, and federal sources. The Task Force is made up of the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation, City of Tulsa, the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), Tulsa Community Foundation and Atento Capital.


Virtual Tip Jars have been gaining popularity across the U.S., such as the one in Pittsburgh, set up by Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Ethics and Policy. Service workers can sign up to have their name and Venmo or Paypal information on a public list, and patrons can send their favorite wait staff, baristas or bartenders virtual tips.





Information


Using a grassroots approach, community activists in Laramie, WY started a Facebook page called the Laramie Take Out & Business Support Group to share information about restaurant and beverage companies that are still in operation with limited service. They have been compiling data on a shared spreadsheet for public reference.