Business

Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance announces campaign to support local businesses

Baseball-themed Rally C.A.P. initiative focuses on boosting consumer spending

Economic Alliance Executive Director Doug Neumann and Economic Alliance Board Vice Chair and Vice President of Finance S
Economic Alliance Executive Director Doug Neumann and Economic Alliance Board Vice Chair and Vice President of Finance Shared Services at Collins Aerospace, Tatum Buse lead a discussion with Cargill CEO David MacLennan during the Economic Alliance annual meeting at the DoubleTree Cedar Rapids Convention Center in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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The novel coronavirus has been a burden for most companies, and for small, locally based businesses in particular.

“This pandemic has really been a gut punch to our local businesses,” Doug Neumann, executive director of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, said during a virtual news conference Monday. “This is a critical moment for this community, for this economy, for small businesses, for arts and culture amenities.”

Neumann blended in his love of baseball in announcing the Economic Alliance’s Rally C.A.P. initiative to promote local businesses.

“I would not balk at anything I could do to help boost the consumer confidence in the economy,” Neumann said. “I hope you catch the spirit of this, too, and don’t cry foul when it’s your turn to step up to the plate.”

As the Economic Alliance faces its own financial challenges — Neumann will be the first to admit this isn’t a million-dollar campaign — the initiative asks consumers and businesses to help.

For consumers, that means making sure to shop local, whether that’s getting carryout from a favorite restaurant or choosing to fly through Eastern Iowa Airport for an upcoming trip.

For businesses, that means making sure as many vendors are as local as possible.

Ana McClain, co-owner of Lion’s Bridge Brewery in the Czech Village, said the program is especially helpful for her brewery because of construction on the 16th Avenue bridge.

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“More than anything, it’s the exposure and staying at the top of mind for the local community,” McClain said. “We have to double down on making sure that people know about us.”

It’s not the first time Cedar Rapids has tried something like this. After the flood in 2016, then-Mayor Ron Corbett challenged residents to visit flood-affected businesses downtown at least 10 times. The winner got to be honorary mayor for the day.

Corbett, now the business retention and expansion specialist for the Economic Alliance, was in attendance for Monday’s news conference.

“Everybody knows that when there’s a hard curveball coming at you, it can knock you down,” Corbett, Economic Alliance business retention and expansion specialist, said Monday. “But we have to get back up, and we have to rally. ... We’ve done it before.”

Consumers can pick up “rally cards” from participating businesses. After collecting five cards, customers can pick up a rally hat. A list of participating businesses is available at rallycapchallenge.com.

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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