This is a story that's still in the early stages of being a story. That means if everything works as organizers plan, it'll have legs and you'll be hearing about it for a while.
But this is kind of how it starts.
Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority Chairwoman Georgene Brazer said Thursday the DDA board wanted to do something tangible to not only help local businesses struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also pay that help forward a bit.
And that led the DDA, which is charged with working to "enhance and stimulate the economic development of Richmond Hill’s downtown district while maintaining and showcasing our historic integrity and charm created by our historic Ford properties," to this:
The DDA decided to donate $1,000 to each of the city’s 34 restaurants. The restaurants, in turn, are each providing the DDA with 40 $25 gift cards.
Those cards, 1,360 in all, and at a total cost of $34,000 to the DDA, will be used to help promote local businesses and charities while also giving restaurants a shot in the arm as the city and community begins to open back up and assess the economic damage.
Consider it a stimulus to local business from an organization comprised of local business people, one that comes at a time when such things are needed most, said Brazer, who added she and city councilman Robbie Ward, also a board member on the DDA, made the rounds this week distributing the money and picking up the cards.
They chose local eateries, Brazer said, because Richmond Hill’s growing restaurant scene is a vibrant, diverse and important part of the city’s day-to-day life.
“(Restaurants) are key to our community providing jobs, tax revenue, visitors for tourism and welcoming not just those who live in the city but also Bryan County, Chatham County and I-95,” Brazer said via email.
Details on how and when and to who the cards will be distributed are still being worked out, but Brazer said the reaction from restaurant owners has been “humbling,” and that it’s proof “out of adversity good things can come.”