There’s never been a better time to shop local.

Just ask Meadow Lake and District Chamber of Commerce administrator Trevor Dignean who, with more than $40,000 in federal funding at his fingertips, has come up with a number of new and unique initiatives to encourage more people to conduct their day-to-day business close to home.

“I applied for (the Shop Local campaign) at the start of November, the application went through in January and now we have the funding,” Dignean explained “It’s now a matter of creating videos (to promote local businesses), creating advertising, creating brands and so on.”

Recently, MP Jim Carr, special representative for the Prairies, announced an investment of up to $7.2 million will be going to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta to encourage people to shop locally and support businesses in their community as they reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is designed to help businesses stay open so they can thrive as the economy recovers. The money is also part of a national investment of $33 million to support Shop Local campaigns across the country announced by MP Mary Ng, minister of small business, export promotion and international trade, June 21.

“We know recovery is going to look different in every region and will require different programming that responds to local needs,” Carr noted. “As our economy begins to safely reopen, these investments will encourage Canadians to support their local small businesses, helping them recover quicker. By partnering with Chambers of Commerce, we can reach more businesses to stimulate local economies, create jobs and improve the quality of life for people in the Prairies and across Canada.”

The Meadow Lake and District Chamber of Commerce received a total of $41,000 as part of the Shop Local project.

“The federal government wants to spur business,” Dignean said prior to the announcement of the election. “Because of COVID, they saw a lot of small mom and pop, and rural businesses were suffering… What I like about the Shop Local project is it makes everyone stop and think why it is important to support local business. Meadow Lake is pretty self-sufficient right now, but could there be more business? One hundred per cent. My concern is, as things begin to open up, our businesses are still going to need our support and we shouldn’t always be running off to the bigger centres.”

The theme of the project locally is ‘Buy Local, Meadow Lake Loyal’. According to Dignean, the plan is to create a unique logo, as well as create paraphernalia to help drive the initiative. Additionally, funds will be used to produce the aforementioned videos to promote local businesses, various newspaper and radio advertising campaigns, and more.

“We’ve already had the (film) company come in and record a few videos,” Dignean added. “After the second time they were here, I thought – instead of the company doing its own voice over – let’s have the voices of Meadow Lake people… Hopefully that will give it even more of a personal touch.”

Throughout Saskatchewan, the various Chambers of Commerce received $1,155,000 overall to assist with the campaign.

bu Phil Ambroziak