AKRON, Ohio — The City of Akron has launched a new app called Akronite to help increase patronage and community engagement at female and minority-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The customized Akronite app gives retailers marketing tools to connect them with residents while incentivizing locals to shop locally by rewarding them with specialized "blimp" tokens that are redeemable at participating Akron businesses.
"Each blimp is dollar for dollar so one blimp equals one dollar," said Deputy Mayor James Hardy.
The city spent $32,000 for the development of the app and used another $40,000 in federal CARES Act funding for the rewards budget.
“Our locally owned small businesses are facing enormous challenges and we need out-of-the-box ideas that safely connect them to consumers and turn local spending into a source of pride for residents,” said Mayor Horrigan in a news release. “The Akronite app will enable the city to reward customers for shopping local, improving revenues for our small businesses while helping folks stretch their dollars.”
Residents can use the app to discover new and sustainable ways to participate in civic life and COVID-19 safe community activities. The app will also allow residents to share city stories and engage with others telling stories in their neighborhood.
Chad Magilavy, general manger of Diamond Deli in downtown Akron, believes the new app will help small businesses rebound.
"It seems like it's gonna work. I had a couple of people come in yesterday and already asking for it. It just launched yesterday," Magilavy said.
For now, the city is targeting small businesses in downtown, University Park and Northside Market, but Horrigan said the program may expand to other neighborhoods.
To download the app, click here.
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