Updated: May 20
(May 19, 2020 – Mason, OH) Seven weeks and three program concepts after City of Mason Councilmember Joshua Styrcula introduced legislation for a $500,000 grant program in partnership with the Mason Deerfield Chamber Community Development Corporation (MADECDC), the two entities are rolling out the City of Mason Small Business Recovery Initiative, a City funded stimulus voucher program that will provide direct and immediate funding relief to businesses along with a discount voucher component to spur market activity over the course of the next year.
“This program will provide a direct cash infusion of $160,000 to businesses right away, and it will have a market call to action to support those businesses through a discounted voucher generating an additional $160,000 of economic impact,” stated Randy Kuvin of Flagel Huber Flagel/MADECDC Board member and program concept developer. "For example, if a business applies to be a part of this program and receives a $1,000 funding award, the business will receive $1,000 now and $1,000 over the course of the next year as the 50% off vouchers are redeemed. A sample voucher would be that a consumer would receive $25 off a purchase of $50 or more.”
Businesses located with Mason City limits who employ fewer than 50 people and rely on walk-in traffic are eligible to apply for this program. Complete program eligibility can be found at payitforwardmade.com/apply.
The MADECDC presented three total proposals, two to Mason City Council, at their request of a prospective partnership. The first program concept was a grant program with a “Pay It Forward” component built in that would enable businesses to voluntarily contribute to a self-sustaining economic relief fund once businesses determined they were able. This program was introduced to Council on March 30, 2020 after some members of Council stated they were not comfortable providing grants to small businesses, and that they preferred different options such as forgivable loans.
“We felt and believed the Pay It Forward program was a compromise to the desires and concerns of Council, and that it spoke to the spirit of Mason by providing a give back/give forward component for businesses of today to take care of businesses of tomorrow,” stated Sherry Taylor, MADECDC President/CEO. “From the moment we showed up in response to Council’s prospective interest to partner with us to support our small businesses, we have challenged ourselves to create programs that speak to the culture of our community.”
The majority of Council was not in favor of the Pay It Forward program, so the MADECDC decided to pivot their original Pay It Forward program from a private/public partnership approach to a crowdfunding campaign where they have raised nearly $34,000 from the Mason area community in support of grants to small businesses not only in Mason but also in Deerfield Township. Since April 23, 2020, the program has helped 25 local businesses and is currently in a second round of grant awards.
On April 13, 2020, after two weeks of program concept debate, Mason City Council amended the initial legislation that would modify the abilities for the initial grant program to serve as a gift card program. In response to the amended legislation, the MADECDC presented a second program concept to Council on April 21, 2020, the “Mason Loaves & Fishes” gift card program, which provided businesses immediate funding relief in exchange for a partnership with the community later on down the road that would enable them to donate goods and/or services to the community at large.
“We felt as though this (Loaves & Fishes) program concept would not add extremities and enable our businesses to give forward to the community at their master of trade at a time they were able, and that the stories of goodness and kindness of our community nourishing one another would speak to the spirit of who Mason is,” stated Scott Jones of Graydon/MADECDC Board member and program concept developer.
The majority of Mason City Council was again, not in favor of this program concept, stating the legislation they enacted didn’t enable such a program. This led to the stimulus voucher concept which provides the market the opportunity to support local businesses while receiving an incentive through a 50% off voucher.
“We determined we wanted to create a gift card program that was not traditional in the sense of other gift card programs being enacted that could add liabilities to businesses, not create immediate funding relief due to some cards in the marketplace requiring redemption in order for revenue to be realized, and other concerns that could be harmful to businesses,” stated John Kramer, MADECDC Board Chair. “These concerns led to the creation of a stimulus voucher program which will serve as a win for the businesses and a win for the community at large, something we have set out to achieve since day one.”
Businesses who want to be a part of this program will need to apply at payitforwardmade.com/apply between May 19 – May 26, 2020.
The City of Mason has dedicated over $2 million to the economic health and recovery of Mason’s small businesses through a number of Small Business Recovery Programs. Mason’s small businesses are encouraged to check out additional programs at Reimaginemason.org
About the MADECDC
The MADECDC is a non-profit community development corporation serving the MADE region. The MADECDC’s mission is to strengthen the MADE region into a more dynamic, healthy, and resilient place to live, learn, work and play.