Draper, Utah – The coronavirus has affected millions of people throughout the planet. Most of these people are stuck at home, wondering what is going to happen in the coming weeks and months ahead. They’re out of work with bills to pay and no way of knowing when the pandemic will end.
The deadly COVID-19 virus is not just a threat to humans, but it is also a threat to local small businesses as well. The longer these businesses remain shut down, the more damage it will cause to the local economy of Utah and every other state in the country.
Small businesses are some of the leading employers in Utah. If these businesses lose money, then it could result in multiple layoffs and bankruptcies. That would be devastating to the state and its residents. A local man named Jimmy Rex came up with an idea to put one million dollars back into the local business economy of Utah. The idea involved purchasing gift cards to support small businesses in towns and cities across the state.
Rex had a goal to get 100 friends to each put $10,000 into the local economy by purchasing gift cards from small businesses. That way, it would support those businesses and help keep them afloat until the pandemic is over. Rex’s good friend, Dr. Nicholas Howland of Howland Plastic Surgery, jumped on board immediately and purchased $10,000 worth of gift cards from local small businesses.
“People have asked me what I’m going to do with $10,000 in gift cards,” said Dr. Howland. “The answer is simple. I’m going to donate them to all my nurses and employees who are dealing with this crisis too. Shutting down elective surgery has not been an easy decision for our practice. I’m happy to help other local small businesses while helping my staff at the same time.”
There are so many local small businesses that are struggling because they’ve been forced to shut down. Rex wanted well-positioned people to purchase the gift cards, which was why he turned to Dr. Howland for help first. Rex purchased $1,000 worth of gift cards from 10 different businesses, while Dr. Howland purchased $100 worth of gift cards from 100 different businesses.
“We are not suggesting that people go to stores and shop while ignoring social distancing rules,” said Rex. “We have adjusted our ways to support businesses ever since the guidelines for quarantine and social distancing have changed. Now, a lot of what we do is done online. Everything from purchasing gift cards to highlighting the businesses is all done through the internet.”
Once Dr. Howland got involved, he created the #helplocalsurvive project and had a goal of helping 5 to 6 businesses per day. Whenever one of these small businesses receives a shoutout on social media, it is accompanied by #helplocalsurvive. Anyone can go on Instagram and search this hashtag to see all the businesses that have been helped by Rex’s idea so far. He now wants other people in good positions to continue the trend and help other local businesses until they reach the one-million-dollar goal.
“If we can let enough people know how to support local small businesses during these hard times, then I believe we can keep our local economy alive,” said Howland. “Every little bit helps.”