Juneauites who enjoy shopping locally now have a new resource available—The Local Frequency application.
The smartphone-based app, which anyone can download from the Apple or Google app stores, aims to give locally owned businesses loyalty, rebate and promotion opportunities with a community-based twist.
“We are trying to create something for the little guys,” said Brian Holst, executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council at the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
The JEDC is facilitating the app’s rollout as part of its mission to support entrepreneurship and small businesses.
“During COVID-19, it became very clear that small businesses took a huge hit. We really felt it was important to give them a tool to bring back consumers,” he said.
Holst said locally owned businesses help create a solid local economy that benefits customers and the community. He cited research that shows how strong local businesses help recirculate money into the local economy creating jobs that pay better wages with happier workers. He said that strong local economies entice former residents to return and help to create unique cultural hubs.
“We believe collectively in supporting local businesses,” Holst said, explaining that the app offers benefits for local consumers, local businesses and the community. “It’s a shared program.”
How it works
According to Holst, consumers who download the free app can upload “Local Dollars” into their account via their mobile phone through a partnership with True North Credit Union. A Local Dollar is equivalent to a U.S. dollar.
Customers then use the app to pay at participating businesses to earn a rebate that can be used at other local businesses. Consumers also have the opportunity to “round up” a purchase and donate the money to a local charity.
Participating businesses get a dedicated profile page to describe the business and highlight the rebates and promotions available. They can also use the app to track loyalty programs and reach local customers with direct marketing.
Although consumers don’t have to upload money to the app to participate in the program, Holst said the app offers lower transaction fees than credit cards and other payment methods, which helps local business owners.
“That was an unanticipated benefit. Every transaction you do on the app causes less money to go to a bank,” Holst said. “Money loaded onto the app through True North Credit Union never leaves Juneau. Money goes right from the credit union to the businesses and is available immediately.”
The app, which JEDC introduced earlier this year, has attracted 16 business partners and local nonprofit partners. In addition, more than 430 people have downloaded the app, Holst said.
“We are just at the beginning,” he said. “We see lots of potential, especially throughout the region. We are ready to expand.”
Possible expansion opportunities include partnerships with local realtors and other service providers and developing a region-wide program that can be shared with cruise ship passengers and other visitors.
“Visitors love to support small, local businesses, said Midgi Moore, who owns Juneau Food Tours and Taste Alaska!. “I think there’s a huge opportunity to reach out to our visitors,” she said.
• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at email@example.com or 907-308-4891.