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Mayor Janey announces "B-Local" app to support local businesses

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Economic Development

Pilot program to support the economic recovery of our neighborhood commercial districts.

BOSTON - Friday, April 16, 2021 - Mayor Janey announced today that the City of Boston is launching B-Local, a points-based program that offers rewards for shopping locally. The goal is to support local business recovery by incentivizing Bostonians to spend locally. By using the simple B-Local mobile app, shoppers earn rewards automatically at hundreds of participating local businesses across the City of Boston when they make purchases with registered credit, debit, or prepaid debit cards linked to their B-Local account. These rewards may then be applied as cash discounts to a growing list of redeeming businesses. All rewards are reimbursed by the City of Boston and there is no cost to users or businesses.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they need our help to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This dynamic program is a proven and powerful economic tool. By creatively leveraging federal CARES Act funding, the City of Boston can support local business owners, reward local shoppers, and drive a stronger recovery,” said Mayor Janey. “With warmer weather upon us, Bostonians are eager to reconnect with one another. This Patriot’s Day weekend, I urge my fellow Bostontians to exercise their city pride through our collective purchasing power to support local businesses as they recover from the pandemic. By supporting your favorite local businesses and exploring new establishments across our city, you can make a real difference.”

Through this innovative program developed in partnership with Colu Technologies, the City of Boston can drive local spending back into our community, instead of e-commerce giants and big-box retailers. This will provide critical support to local businesses as they recover and our city reopens, while also promoting diversity and equity. In Akron, Ohio, Colu’s “Akronite” app recently generated over $200,000 in local business sales, harnessing more than 4,000 users and 170 local businesses in a six-month period. Money spent locally stayed in their community and boosted the economy by a factor of nine. Boston is the first major U.S. city to launch this program.

“As an innovation hub, Boston is proud to leverage a creative program with a proven record of bringing city residents and small businesses together to drive our local economic recovery,” said Midori Morikawa, Interim Chief of Economic Development. “Boston is committed to an equitable recovery of our small and local businesses. B-Local will highlight the stories and experiences of our business owners to connect with residents, particularly those owned by women, immigrants, and people of color who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Business owners have demonstrated tremendous resilience throughout the pandemic and with B-Local, we as residents can make a real impact to help as they reopen and recover.”

How It Works:

  1. Download the free B-Local app from Google Play or the Apple Store and securely link your credit cards, debit cards, or prepaid debit cards to your account. The first 3,000 users to download and link a card will receive a bonus!
  2. Join reward offers and start shopping and dining locally, earning Boston Points automatically through qualifying purchases made with your linked cards at local businesses.
  3. Redeem Boston Points for cash discounts at redeeming local businesses. Each Boston Point is worth one dollar.
  4. Encourage your favorite businesses to join B-Local by signing up on boston.gov/B-Local.

Users can learn more at Colu.com/b-local. Shoppers in the City of Boston are encouraged to review the latest public health guidance at Boston.gov/covid-19 and learn about Boston’s reopening efforts and public health guidelines for businesses at Boston.gov/reopening.

To date, 269 businesses have signed up to participate on B-Local. Outreach to businesses, led by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development Small Business Unit, has ensured an equitable representation of business owners, as well as even distribution across neighborhoods:

  • 185 Minority and Immigrant-Owned Businesses
  • 143 Woman-Owned Businesses
  • 53 Main Streets Businesses
  • 46 Black-Owned Businesses

Shoppers may earn rewards at restaurants, retail stores, cafés, gyms and yoga studios, salons, and more. Shoppers may then redeem their Boston Points as discounts toward future purchases. Any Boston-based businesses with a storefront or that engages with customers directly may apply as either a “participating” or “redeeming” business at Boston.gov/B-Local. All reward discounts using Boston Points will be reimbursed to businesses by the City of Boston on a biweekly basis. All costs for this pilot program and reimbursements are funded by the federal CARES Act.

The B-Local program is open to all Boston businesses, but it will also allow the City of Boston to stand by its values of equity and inclusion; supporting minority- and women-owned businesses and industries disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and other systemic barriers. By sharing the important stories that connect our community and local businesses, B-Local will highlight Boston’s vibrant and diverse businesses and celebrate the 20 Boston Main Streets neighborhood commercial districts. 

“B-local is such a unique and fun program for both businesses and patrons,” said Tiffani Faison, renowned chef and owner of Big Heart Hospitality, which includes Sweet Cheeks Q, Tiger Mama, Fool's Errand, and Orfano restaurants. “It aids in financial recovery and allows an opportunity for us all to reconnect and have each other's backs. It allows Bostonians a fresh perspective on which businesses are uniquely local and how, together, we contribute to the rebirth of the Boston we know, love and miss so dearly.”

Small Business Support

This announcement is part of the City of Boston’s ongoing work to support small businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the City of Boston has leveraged $26 million in grants, fees waived, and other City resources allocated to support businesses. This includes more than $16 million in grants to more than 4,000 small businesses. To further assist small businesses, the City of Boston created a platform to help businesses source the personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies they are required to have available in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers as industries begin to reopen. The City also publishes a self-identified Black and Brown owned business directory and a certified Women, Minority, and Veteran owned small business directory to spotlight locally-owned businesses. Small businesses seeking assistance may contact the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development Small Business Unit at smallbiz@boston.gov.

ABOUT THE MAYOR'S OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Economic Development Cabinet's mission is to make Boston an appealing and accessible place for working families, entrepreneurs, businesses, and investors to innovate, grow, and thrive in a way that fosters inclusion, broadens opportunity, and shares prosperity, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all Bostonians and the experience for all visitors. Learn more here.

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