BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the fifth year of Passport to Christmas – a fun way to demonstrate the importance of local spending to the area.
This year there are 64 participating businesses in Lacombe and Bentley through the six-week period, ending Dec. 16th. The program encourages local spending and keeps track of that total amount to let people know their impact in the local economy.
“In 2014, our number was $775,000 and last year, it was $1.32 million – that is the exciting part. It’s not even just the Christmas and holiday shopping people are doing, but it’s also the regular, everyday costs people have. We have to consider grocery stores and the other regular shopping that happens. It’s nice to be able to show people what an impact their dollars have on the community,” said Monica Bartman of the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce.
“I think when we keep track of how much we spend in a six-week period of time, it really helps people realize the benefit of choosing to spend money in the City. It impacts the local economy, the small business owners, the students working at those businesses – there is definitely a trickle-down effect.”
Bartman said there is a large variety of businesses participating in the event, including hair salons, grocery stores, fitness studios, clothing stores, drugstores and more.
“It really does give a nice cross-section of the businesses in Lacombe. We think it’s very representative of the variety that we do have here locally,” she said.
This year, Passport to Christmas also features five businesses in Bentley.
Bartman said that thanks to the responses from previous years and postal code information, the Chamber found out there are a number of residents travelling from the town to shop in Lacombe.
She said this is a great way to encourage shopping and economic growth in both municipalities.
“Bentley is our neighbour just down the road and we intentionally wanted to include them this year, and help get a little bit more awareness out there. We wanted to reach out to the residents of Bentley and get them to participate, and to also drive a little more traffic out to their town as well.”
Each year the program has grown with new local businesses getting onboard.
The program is a reflection of the direct impact of local spending and it helps to encourage awareness of this habit, Bartman said, adding that the number always shocks people when they see just how much of their money went to stimulating Lacombe’s economy.
Winners will be awarded with ‘Lacombe Bucks’ that can be used at local retailers.
Prizes are given out on-air through program partners Sunny 94 on Dec. 23rd. The grand prize is $1,500, with Lacombe Bucks able to be used between Jan. 1st – June 30th, 2017.