Small businesses have had a tough go during the ongoing pandemic. But if enough drivers sign up, there will soon be a way for Alabama residents to display their pride for shopping local, while funding initiatives to help small business owners.
Alabamians can sign up for a proposed “Shop Local – Support Small Business” vehicle tag, with proceeds to nonprofit Main Street Alabama. The tag will be produced by the state if at least 1,000 people complete an online application and pay a $50 fee by July 31, 2021.
Main Street Alabama plans to use the proceeds to support workshops and small business grants.
“Small businesses keep it local by consistently sponsoring the local baseball team, providing gift baskets for the local charity drives and creating jobs in their community,” said Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama state coordinator. “With this program, individuals can show their dedication to their favorite small businesses, who in many cases are their friends and neighbors, with a tag that gives back to them with workshops and grants focused on strengthening their business.”
The idea for the tag sprang from city councilors from across Jefferson County who meet regularly to discuss issues.
Casey Middlebrooks, a city councilor from Hoover, said that after the pandemic hit in March, the group wanted to find a way to support local businesses. “We felt Main Street Alabama had the … presence and resources to facilitate support to small businesses throughout the state.”
Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, whose district includes downtown, commissioned graphic designer Chris Seagle to create the artwork for the tag. The blue-on-blue design depicts a line of small businesses on a typical main street, under a sky dotted with clouds. Among Seagle’s Alabama clients are the city of Talladega, the Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham and Sloss Real Estate Co.
Main Street Alabama is the state’s coordinating program of the national organization Main Street America. Main Street Alabama began in 2009 and is focused on revitalizing and preserving the character of historic downtowns, large and small, through public-private partnerships, community engagement and investment that helps draw new business, economic development and tourism to historic city and town centers. The group’s programs range from providing design support for cities, to training, to hosting workshops aimed at supporting small businesses. Every year, the organization chooses three towns to be designated communities. Those towns receive a range of expert assistance, including help with strategic planning and design, market analysis, business development and visioning.
For more information about Main Street Alabama and to sign up for the proposed Shop Local – Support Small Business car tag, visit www.mainstreetalabama.org.
Republished with the permission of the Associated Press.