A small business program launched in Spanish Fork last year using federal COVID-19 relief funding put $663,500 into the local economy, according to the city.

The Spanish Fork 2020 Shop Local Program, which more than 180 local small businesses participated in, was implemented as a way “to help residents and businesses during what has been financially trying times for many.”

“The hope is that this gift helped residents during the holiday season and (helped) get money to our local businesses who are also weathering the COVID-19 storm,” the city wrote on a webpage about the program.

The city mailed out 11,776 cards, each with three $25 vouchers attached “that could be spent like cash at participating businesses in Spanish Fork,” the city said on Thursday in a press release. Participating businesses could then submit the vouchers to the city for reimbursement.

Of the 35,528 individual vouchers that were sent out, 26,540 of them, about 75%, were redeemed.

“We had a goal of 50% redemption with the hope that 60% of the vouchers would get redeemed,” Spanish Fork City Manager Seth Perrins said in the press release. “The 75.12% redemption rate we had demonstrates the enthusiasm that residents and businesses alike had about the program.”

The city and Spanish Fork-Salem Area Chamber of Commerce asked large chains like Costco, Lowe’s, Macey’s and Walmart to “not participate in the program,” according to Dave Anderson, director of economic development, who noted that “these large businesses have been successful in spite of COVID-19.”

Some businesses credited customers $25 and allowed them to keep the vouchers, the city said, while one business donated its $3,975 voucher proceeds to the city’s utility assistance fund.

Nearly half of Spanish Fork residents who participated in the program, 47%, used the vouchers at food service businesses, totaling $317,250. One food service business in particular redeemed $44,375 in vouchers.

“Our hope when we created this program was to provide some financial means to every family in Spanish Fork and positively impact our local businesses. As a city, we are thrilled that the shop local program accomplished this goal,” Perrins said.

The small businesses relief program is similar to programs launched in other south Utah County cities, including Santaquin and Payson.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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