Carbondale considers a winter ‘economic stimulus’ campaign |

Carbondale considers a winter ‘economic stimulus’ campaign

CARBONDALE, Colorado – Local business leaders are seeking $30,000 from the town of Carbondale for their own version of an economic stimulus plan.

The plan, being put forth by the Downtown Preservation Association, the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce, the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH) and individual business owners, will be discussed at a town council work session tonight beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

The idea is to create a 90-day campaign during the lead-up to the holiday shopping season where people who frequent Carbondale’s retail businesses will receive one ticket per transaction to be put into a prize drawing. Participants would also receive a ticket for every donation made to a Carbondale-based nonprofit organization.

“Over the past two months, community business owners and CCAH have met weekly to brainstorm about ways to moderate the impacts of the recession,” according to a memo to town council members from the campaign proponents.

“A consensus has formed around an idea that has as its basic tenets Carbondale’s ‘green’ ethic and also Carbondale’s history of ‘pulling together’ as one community for the benefit of all,” they write.

Most of the $30,000 being requested from the town would be used to pay for prizes and advertising efforts around the campaign. Prizes could include an electric car as a grand prize, although that has not yet been determined. Other prizes would also have a “green” theme.

Participating businesses will also be asked to put some “skin in the game,” in the form of campaign supplies, gift certificates or to help defray advertising costs.

Local government-supported efforts to stimulate the economy are not unprecedented. Neighboring Basalt also tried to stimulate local sales during the summer months by offering $30 gift certificates to consumers for each cumulative $300 they spent at participating shops and restaurants.

The program, which ended in mid-August, was considered a success with the town allocating $45,000 in gift certificates by mid-July and approving another $30,000 for additional certificates.

Though the mini stimulus program was not enough to pull Basalt sales tax revenues back into the black, it may have prevented summer sales from being worse than they were, town officials speculated.

Proponents of the Carbondale plan aren’t promising any miracles either.

“Our expectations are realistic. We do not expect the campaign to end the recession, (and) we do not expect the campaign to bring in tens of thousands of dollars in new sales tax revenues,” according to the proposal.

“We do expect the campaign to bring the community together in a fun experiment that we all participate in. And the campaign may help some businesses get through an important time of the year.”

As tonight’s meeting is a work session, trustees cannot act on the proposal, although proponents are looking to gauge the board’s interest in pursuing the idea.

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