Seven East Allen County communities that have banded together as the NewAllen Alliance are asking their neighbors to support local small businesses this holiday season.
In a show of solidarity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses will display signs and window clings in support of the Be Local Buy Local campaign.
According to Barb Smith, the NewAllen Alliance Leo-Cedarville representative, “The Be Local-Buy Local Initiative is designed to help make a positive impact on the marketing of our small-town businesses. There is so much we can do to help each other if we all pull together and shine a positive light on our rural communities.”
Kristi Sturtz, owner of Sturtz Public Management Group, is NewAllen’s rural liaison. On Nov. 19, Sturtz took display signs and window clings to the various communities, a week ahead of the usual Black Friday holiday shopping surge.
Larry Oberley, Monroeville’s NewAllen board representative, distributed those materials to businesses on Nov. 20.
Louie Meyer will display a Be Local Buy Local sign in a window of Meyer Auto Sales. “It’s a good program. It works,” Meyer said. “A lot of people do buy local. I do about everything I can here in town.”
Meyer has been with the service center, used car center and body shop for a little over half of the shop’s 99 years. He has lived in Monroeville all his life. “We like to treat everybody right and they come back,” he said.
Meyer Auto Sales (service center, used cars, body shop) lived her all my life.
Oberley, Monroeville’s street and utility superintendent, distributed the signs to the town’s few retail outlets and restaurants.
“With the COVID hitting the restaurants they have been doing really well with the carry-out,” Oberley said. “Everybody’s kind of coming together.”
Other community representatives are Jon Niemeyer, Hoagland; Andy Miller, Harlan; Kevin Roth, Grabill; Carol Martin, Woodburn; and Pone Vongphachanh, New Haven.
Kent Castleman, chief development officer at Lasting Change Inc., is the NewAllen president.
The NewAllen Alliance, founded in 1991, is an Indiana Regional Stellar Community.
The group offered these suggestions for the Be Local Buy Local campaign:
• Buy gift certificates to local businesses and give them to family and friends.
• Adopt an elderly neighbor or a struggling family and give a small gift basket of items from local businesses.
• Give your server or store clerk a bigger than normal tip.
• Make a small donation to a local not-for–profit that helps your community.
• “Pay it forward” one time this holiday season.
• Write a thank-you note to a local business owner just to say thanks for being a part of the community.
• Write a letter to your local paper and thank a business for a pleasant experience you had at their establishment.
• Drop off a treat to any local medical facility in your community to thank them for all they do and to acknowledge the extra stress they are all going through.
• Say one kind thing to a neighbor, friend or a stranger you meet in a local store.
• Share any local business sale or promotion on social media sites.
Area residents are encouraged to support small businesses in East Allen as well as others across Indiana.
“Small businesses not only provide jobs but they help in creating a sense of connectivity with communities by understanding their customers, providing them a desirable service and a personalized shopping experience,” said Matt Crouch, interim executive director of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. “Each store is one-of-a-kind, and the owners have a passion for their products and downtown. If you need help finding a local store, check out OCRA’s interactive small-business map and start your holiday shopping at these locations.”
Working through the NewAllen Alliance, communities are collectively implementing downtown revitalization, park, sidewalk, trail, utility, roadway and housing projects through the East Allen Rural Revival Regional Development Plan.