Earn prizes for shopping local through Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance’s new COVID-19 recovery initiative

Tree of Five Seasons sculpture, Cedar Rapids — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance announced a new initiative Monday morning that focuses on supporting local businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rally C.A.P. — which stands for Rally Champion and Protect — is a “community-wide, team approach” designed to support restaurants, arts and cultural attractions, small shops and other Cedar Rapids businesses as they navigate reopening.

“We need in this moment to rally the community, to rebound the economy, to get things back to a new normal,” Doug Neumann, the Economic Alliance’s executive director, said during a virtual press conference. “We do that while also being very aware, very cognizant, of the very serious nature of COVID and that we have to balance this enthusiasm with the reality of our situation, and that this is a new normal and that we can’t just reopen the way that things were.”

Shoppers receive a rally card after making a purchase at any of the participating businesses. Once individuals collect five cards, they can take them to one of the Rally C.A.P. pick-up spots to get a hat.

After participants collect five rally cards, they can get a hat from one of the pick-up spots. — photo courtesy of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance

Each rally card has information to fill out on the back, which enters the individual into a drawing for additional swag and prizes.

One of the participating businesses is Lion Bridge Brewing Company in Czech Village. Co-owner Ana McClain shared that the past few months have been difficult for the brewery.

“We’re still navigating in uncharted territory,” McClain said during the press conference. “We’re trying to adapt to this new normal, so I’m excited for Rally C.A.P. because it’s a way that we can emphasize buying local. Right now, more than ever, it’s really important to make these conscious buying choices for the places that we care about in our community.”

“The rest of 2020 is still very unknown, and it is not guaranteed for small businesses to be able to stay in our community and the same with arts and cultural spaces,” McClain added.

Ron Corbett, the business retention and expansion strategist for the Economic Alliance and former Cedar Rapids mayor, encouraged residents to adjust their buying habits to support local business and for businesses to review their vendor lists to try to make all of their purchases locally as well.

Corbett also mentioned how the city has bounced back from difficult economic times in the past.

“Who can forget 2008 — the flood and the recession,” Corbett said. “A lot of people didn’t think we could rally from that large natural disaster, but we did. When we started seeing the signs ‘we’re back’ in the windows of the local businesses, it made everybody feel good, that community sense of pride. So here we are, again, ready to get up from this economic disaster and rally.”

Almost 30 businesses in Cedar Rapids and Marion are participating. The list is expected to grow in the coming days, Corbett said. Businesses interested in participating in the Rally C.A.P. initiative can fill out an online form.

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