Members of All About Barrhead Business Improvement District were on-hand to help celebrate the latest Scottish Government investment in the Scotland Loves Local programme.
BID manager Andy Dunlop and the team at Social Blend, one of its members in the town centre, met Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur MSP as he announced a £250,000 boost to take the card digital.
Mr Arthur discussed with them the importance people supporting local businesses and enterprises, while also hearing about how the Scotland Loves Local East Renfrewshire Gift Card has been used to drive business in the region.
The Minister, who is also the MSP for Renfrewshire South and grew up in Barrhead, was also updated on the work of Include Me 2, the charity which operates Social Blend, through which it offers a celebrated programme of inclusive volunteering, training and employment opportunities for people of all abilities.
Scotland Loves Local (SLL) Gift Cards can be loaded with credit and used in participating shops and businesses within users’ local council area.
By going digital, thanks to the Scottish Government investment, the cards can be used by businesses to reward loyal customers and encourage repeat custom.
The new system may also be made compatible with transport providers’ ticketing systems, allowing relatives or businesses to gift train and bus fares into town centres for shopping trips.
Cards are currently utilised by more than 20 councils – including six which have used them to distribute more than £13 million of Scottish Government Coronavirus (Covid-19) economic recovery funding to lower income households.
The Scotland Loves Local East Renfrewshire Gift Card has already been credited with boosting business in Barrhead and throughout the region.
Speaking on his visit, Mr Arthur said: “Going digital is an important step forward for the SLL gift card. The scheme has already delivered millions of pounds of extra spending to help businesses recover from the pandemic and by increasing their useability I am sure even more people will be encouraged to shop locally.
“The cards have made a real difference in places like Glasgow, where thousands of cards have been used to access Scottish Government funding for economic recovery.
“They represent a step towards the creation of local currencies to be invested and retained within areas. Digitalisation will accelerate that process and help support fairer and more prosperous local economies.”
Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) delivers the SLL initiative – which includes the gift card – encouraging people to support their communities by spending locally.
Interim Chief Officer Kimberley Guthrie, who joined Mr Arthur on the visit, said: “The Scotland Loves Local campaign is a force for good – galvanising communities to support local people and businesses at times when they have never needed that more.
“The need for us all to think, choose and spend locally is critical, not only in our ongoing recovery from the impact of Covid-19 on businesses, but in helping us all through the cost of living crisis and in responding to the climate emergency.
“Continued support from the Scottish Government allows businesses and communities to innovate, invest and embrace opportunity, building better, stronger places.”
As well as being the organisation spearheading Scotland Loves Local, STP is also the parent organisation of Scotland’s Improvement Districts.