COCHRANE— A partnership between the Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce and Cochrane Tourism is aiming to celebrate local businesses in town with a carefully crafted social media campaign.
Chamber president Ozzie Sawicki was on hand at the Stump Tavern Tuesday (July 20) to help launch the Cochrane Loves Local campaign.
“It’s not just about going and shopping local … Now it’s engaging people to create videos, to create opportunities to talk about why it is important to shop local, who are the local businesses that you really found amazing, and testimonials,” Sawicki said. “You can talk about the businesses that are of benefit to you in your community.”
The marketing campaign focusses on promoting local business and was made possible through federal funding. Sawicki said Cochrane is one of the first chambers to access the program in Alberta.
Sawicki said the Chamber has worked hard to remain active during the pandemic and support local businesses— The Cochrane Loves Local campaign is another step in that work.
“We’re trying to create support mechanisms in the community,” Sawicki said. “Now we have to step up our game. Now that we can be in-person we really want to amplify what we are doing, get to meet people in the community and create opportunities where businesses find they can have collaborative opportunities in the community.”
The Chamber has worked to advocate for businesses for many months to help them find success during the pandemic. Sawicki said this has included Zoom meetings during COVID-19 and working with the Town of Cochrane Economic Recovery Task Force.
These discussions helped with the creation of a grant available to businesses needing to access COVID-19 funding and the addition of full-time executive director Kelly Carson to the team.
“We really do want Cochrane to love local,” Sawicki said. “We want local businesses to be recognized for what they do and ultimately we want to showcase those local businesses.”
Jo-Anne Oucharek, executive director for Cochrane Tourism, said it is exciting to collaborate with the Chamber to promote local businesses and encouraging residents to shop in town.
“It’s so great to be a part of this campaign because we have a beautiful community and it is such a great place to play,” Oucharek said.
The tourism sector, including bars, restaurants, tour operators and others, have been some of the hardest-hit businesses during the pandemic.
Cochrane Tourism is working hard to support reopening and launched a picnic program that compliments the Cochrane Loves Local campaign.
“It’s all about collaboration. Our mandate is supporting our tourism partners and so this will really leverage that through the Love Local campaign,” Oucharek said. “We know that the impact of marketing is really important on our businesses, and this is going to be another place to share.”
Cochrane Tourism has developed a six-month business exhilarator program dubbed the Tourism Product Mentorship Program. During the pandemic, it assisted eight businesses in adding new revenue streams to their businesses, including seven new tourism offerings.
The program will run again in the fall.
Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie was on-hand for the launch and praised the innovative campaign.
“Small businesses owners are among the hardest working people in this province,” Guthrie said.
As a small business owner, Guthrie said, he can relate to the adversity many in the community have faced over the past 18-months.
“When my wife and I began our business, we took our life savings and put it into that business. Then we borrowed twice that amount,” Guthrie said, explaining how many businesses owners are in a similar boat. “Many of them are all in, so their financial future is at risk, that a lot of stress. There’s a heavy burden that sits on those shoulders.”
Local businesses have hustled to adapt and change practices during the pandemic, while also working to keep staff and customers safe.
Coming out of the pandemic the province and country are experiencing tremendous economic growth and this led to new businesses and investments in multiple sectors springing up.
“We are poised for a very strong recovery. Now that the province is reopened, and this is not just for summer we are open for good, the Cochrane Loves Local campaign, this presents tremendous opportunity,” Guthrie said. “I’m proud to see this campaign kicking off here and taking hold of Cochrane.”
Banff-Airdrie MP Blake Richards congratulated Cochrane Tourism and the Chamber for the campaign calling it a “great idea.”
“It’s so important … Our business people in the community are the people who step up and support all the causes of the community,” Richards said. “When they need our support, like now, we need to be there to make sure we give them our support so we can keep all those things going in the community.”
He added he is excited to see the launch of the campaign and encouraged others to participate.
Mayor Jeff Genung said Cochrane has shown resiliency during the pandemic.
The Cochrane Loves Local campaign reflects the spirit that carried them through the pandemic and he is looking forward to seeing the new campaign take root in the community.
“When you are supporting a small business, you are in fact supporting your own community,” Genung said. “This is such a great initiative.”
For more information on the Cochrane Loves Local campaign visit cochraneloveslocal.com.