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Sugar Land, Texas – The Sugar Land Office of Economic Development (SLOED) is excited to announce the successful conclusion of the first phase of the Sweet Cash Program. The program ended with an impressive estimated impact of more than $206,335 into the Sugar Land economy which exceeded the goal of $200,000! The Sweet Cash program began as part of the #AllInForSLTX business recovery effort implemented by SLOED in order to inject needed cash flow into local small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using SL4B funds, the Sweet Cash program was designed to be a creative and pro-business way to help stimulate the local economy and encourage shoppers to safely re-engage with local businesses. To begin, 39 participating businesses were chosen through an application process based on specific criteria and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once selected, SLOED purchased $20 gift cards totaling up to $2,500 per participating business.
SLOED launched two separate marketing series to distribute 4,875 gift cards (totaling $97,500) to consumers and frontline workers. The theme of the first series was BUY, GET, GIVE! For every gift card a shopper would BUY ($40 minimum) from any Sugar Land business, they would GET a gift card from a participating business and GIVE a gift card to a local front-line worker. This resulted in the distribution of 1,750 gift cards to frontline workers.
Another component of the program was to encourage other Sugar Land businesses to participate in the Sweet Cash Program by telling their customers to buy a $40 or more gift card from their businesses and submit to the program. By promoting the program, all businesses could benefit from Sweet Cash, not just the initial 39 participating businesses, which was by design. The department dispatched a “street team” to provide marketing materials to businesses, explain how the program worked, and how they could benefit.
To continue the support of Sugar Land’s local businesses through the holiday season, SLOED launched a second marketing series with a festive new take on the original program called ‘Tis the Season for Sweet Cash! ‘Tis the Season provided a simplified version of the program allowing consumers to purchase a gift card from any Sugar Land business for a minimum of $20 and receive a gift card valued at the closest $20 increment.
The success of the Sweet Cash Program was largely attributed to two things, first, Sugar Land’s champion businesses that promoted the program so well. The following Sugar Land businesses leveraged the program to sell the gift card values listed below. These amounts do not include any funds they may have received as a participating business.
Second, the program reached its goal of stimulating the local economy due to a robust marketing strategy, which included: a press release distribution plan that targeted local media and helped gain coverage on KHOU and KTRK, a social media strategy, Sweet Summer Saturday activations, influencer partnerships, informational videos, Sweet Cash window badges for businesses, direct mailers sent to Sugar Land residents, marketing toolkits, flyers, destination venue marquee signage, and ad buys.
The Sweet Cash Program had many impressive milestones along the journey to success. The program was awarded the Texas Economic Development Council’s 2020 Community Economic Development Award for Innovativeness. Additionally, the program received 1,226 submissions from consumers, spanning across 27 cities throughout Texas, including Sugar Land, with submissions from as far as Austin and Port Arthur.