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Event pushes local buying

BY SHANE ERSLAND | APRIL 24, 2009 7:32 AM

Local companies gathered at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Coralville to celebrate the “Buy Here Day” Business Fair — organized by the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce — Thursday afternoon.

The chamber — in conjunction with Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett, Iowa City Mayor Regenia Bailey, North Liberty Mayor Tom Salm, and Johnson County Board of Supervisors Chairman Terrence Neuzil — proclaimed Thursday Buy Here Day to encourage businesses to spend their money in the county.

Vendors who may be buying their products online or outside the county are encouraged to shift 5 percent of their out-of-area spending back to Johnson County. More than 175 businesses, nonprofits, and local governments have committed to the project.

“They have been very receptive,” said chamber President Nancy Quellhorst. “Many depend on local patronage, so they extend the same epic.”

Quellhorst said the fair, which invited people to enter raffles, golf for prizes, and taste wine by various companies, was a way for area business people to educate vendors on what they can offer them.

State Farm Insurance agent Adam Schechinger, who works in the Coralville office and was promoting his company at the fair, agreed.

“A lot of business owners don’t know the insurance options that are available to them at a local level,” he said. “If we don’t offer it we can find it for them.”

Buy Here Day is part of Johnson County’s Buy Here Month, which started in April 2007. Since then, the ongoing effort has shifted nearly $3 million to the county.

Jennifer Robb, an optician for downtown Iowa City firm Discerning Eye, was raffling off a $150 gift certificate for her store. She said it was important for area businesses to support each other.

“We encourage people to shop downtown,” she said. “We like to do our part to help the community as well.”

County Supervisor Sally Stutsman said the fair was a good way for local businesses to learn about each other.

“I just ran into four or five businesses I didn’t know existed,” she said. “It was well worth my time to come out.”


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