RIVERTON, Utah — Local businesses struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic could get a boost in Riverton after the city announced it would be giving away $1,000 a week to shoppers, diners and other consumers.
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund was also opened to restaurant owners across the country.
“I just want to encourage our residents to support our businesses when and where they can,” said Mayor Trent Staggs.
Mayor Staggs said business was picking up in Riverton. Over the last few months, they’ve seen gains in sales tax revenue, but he wants to encourage more people to shop local.
Riverton has more than 500 commercially licensed businesses and 1,500 businesses based at home, and starting Monday, you can buy from any of those businesses and then upload your receipt to rivertonutah.gov/local. That will enter you into a raffle to win a $100 prepaid Visa gift card.
City officials said they were giving away 10 of them every week for people to use on business in the city.
“We want to encourage them to continue supporting our local business because it really isn’t Amazon that needs our help at this point in time, it’s those business that are vested that are located in the community,” Staggs said. “I think this is just a small way in which we can try to return the favor and ensure that we’re focusing our dollars and our patronage at stores that are local.”
The initiative will continue for 17 weeks, until the end of August, and you don’t have live in Riverton to buy there or enter into the contest.
The program could help benefit business owners like Geoffrey Patmides, owner of The Local Greek in Riverton.
Patmides said business has picked up in recent months, but revenue and staffing are still down, operating hours are cut back, and he sometimes has to choose between keeping the restaurant open and picking up a catering event because he doesn’t have the employees.
“Ideally, you want to be in a position to take both, but right now, it’s a little harder,” he said.
Patmides looked into the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. He applied to receive money from the $28.6 billion fund as soon as applications opened Monday.
The goal of the fund is to help restaurant owners make up for revenue losses from the pandemic. It offers up to one million for one location.
The Salt Lake Area Restaurant Association told KSL-TV last week that it sounds like a lot of money, but it won’t be enough to fill the need across the country.
Patmides said he wasn’t holding his breath.
“I don’t expect anything. I’m going to keep going like we ain’t going to get nothing, and then if we get it, it’s a blessing and it’s going to help us out. But if not, I’m not going to cry about it or whine about it. I got to keep going,” he said. “Look, you can’t depend on your city and your government to do everything for you, but any little helping hand they can offer is appreciated. So anything they do I appreciate it. Yeah, so it’s all love.”
The Small Business Administration said for the first three weeks, it will prioritize funding applications from businesses “owned and controlled by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.”