An aerial view of Cincinnati’s downtown riverfront during what was supposed to be Cincinnati Reds opening day.
Downtown and Over-The-Rhine restaurateurs and retailers got a $250,000 cash infusion early this month after a local economic development group ran a gift card drive.
Now, nonprofit Cincinnati Center City Development Corp (3CDC) is planning its next one. The agency’s team is working with partner groups and supporters to raise funds for another gift card campaign to be announced at a later date.
Concerned closed or ailing urban restaurants might not survive, the agency on April 2 launched its “Cincy Card Connection” sale, which gave customers who bought gift cards to eateries a matching gift card to a similar venue. The result was $131,500 in direct gift card purchases for local businesses and $122,000 through eligible matching gift card purchases.
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A total of 1,928 gift cards were sold, benefiting 157 local businesses, including 103 restaurants or bars, 43 retailers and 11 service businesses.
The campaign was so successful that within 24 hours, initial matching funds from 3CDC, Procter & Gamble and local marketing firm Empower were used, but six other parties contributed additional money. Main Street Ventures, Downtown Cincinnati Inc., The Haile Foundation, Urban Sites, the OTR Chamber and Duke Energy kicked in the extra funds.
As a result, 3CDC said it will match eligible purchases submitted through April 6. The nonprofit said its team is working to distribute all the matching gift cards within 30 days to restaurant and retail patrons.
View of the carryout window, Thursday, March 19, 2020, at Sacred Beast restaurant in Cincinnati. (Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)
Gift cards are critical help to ailing businesses amid the shutdown because they funnel cash directly to the business without them fulfilling an immediate service.
The gift card program was announced the same day 3CDC announced a rent forgiveness program to ease financial hardships on Downtown and OTR retailers it wants to keep afloat and in business.
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