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This article was published 13/2/2021 (220 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
An economic stimulus program developed by the Town of Ste Anne is helping seven local businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
The municipality launched the Town Bucks program on Feb. 1 using federal relief funds.
Town residents can call or email the municipal office to reserve a numbered voucher to one of seven local businesses hit hard by pandemic restrictions.
The vouchers, which range in value from $10 to $40, can then be picked up from the office or printed at home. Vouchers are limited to one per household and expire in three months.
Old No. 12 Cafe and Restaurant, Ste Anne Chinese Restaurant, the Thirsty Cactus restaurant, Epic Fitness and Ice, Pam’s Hair Boutique, Hair On Centrale, and Fine Line Tattoo were all selected to participate.
A second round of the program may follow if more businesses in need of assistance are identified, said Sarah Normandeau, the town’s recreation services manager.
Normandeau said round one of the program will continue until each participating business has redeemed their $2,000 voucher allocation.
So far, the bucks are going fast. Normandeau said the town office has been receiving up to 20 requests per day.
"Residents are excited about it, they think it’s a great idea. Businesses are super excited too," she said.
Council was looking for a way to help locally-owned small businesses that have been forced to shut down, sometimes repeatedly, during the pandemic, Normandeau explained.
Last fall, the federal government distributed COVID-19 relief funds to municipalities on a per-capita basis.
Late last month, town council allocated $16,000 in relief funds to create the Town Bucks program. Within days, administrators had the program up and running.
"Council understands the restrictions and the huge constraints that were put on this community," Normandeau said.
She said the Town Bucks program directly assists businesses while also involving residents in the support effort.
After the pandemic ends, Normandeau said she may revive the Town Bucks program from time to time for local contests or to thank volunteers.
In the meantime, she hopes other municipalities will follow suit and start their own business voucher programs.