First Commerce Credit Union based in Tallahassee, Fla., knows locally owned businesses are essential contributors in the community’s economy. They have watched as many local businesses are feeling the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
That’s why First Commerce quickly developed and launched #LocalStrong, an initiative which aims to support local businesses and inspire a wave of support from other organizations and individuals to do something similar.
“As the impact of the coronavirus continues to unfold, we are deeply committed to serving our team members, members, local businesses, and communities through these difficult times. We realize they need a wave of support right now,” says Cecilia Homison, CEO of the $620-million-asset credit union. “We are rooted in our communities and wanted to find a meaningful way to let local businesses know we are here for them.”
The credit union, which serves 55,000 members across North Florida and South Georgia, distributed more than $4,000 among its 150 employees last week.
Each employee received $25 to purchase goods, services, gift cards, or gift certificates from a locally owned business. They were encouraged to practice social distancing and make the purchase online or over the phone.
Employees have embraced the initiative and were excited to give back to the community.
“The stories we’ve heard have had a greater meaning to everyone involved due to the personal stories and connections behind the support,” says Kim Howes, senior vice president of strategic initiatives.
‘We realize they need a wave of support right now.’
Some early examples of how staff have supported locally owned businesses:
“We realize each team member has their own unique story and experience when it comes to the impact of COVID-19,” Howes says. “We wanted to help our team members in a way that was meaningful to them and empowered them to help at that personal level.”
First Commerce’s efforts have inspired other area credit unions to participate in similar events. Five local credit unions— First Florida Central Credit Union, Envision Credit Union, FSU Credit Union, Tallahassee-Leon Federal Credit Union, and FLAG Credit Union—and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions have accepted the challenge to create a #LocalStrong effort, Howes says.
“The response so far has been incredible and continues to grow. We hope to inspire a wave of similar support from other credit unions, businesses and individuals in our communities, magnifying the impact of everyone’s collective efforts,” she says.