New program aims to boost local businesess during holidays – you can help

The Treasure Valley Community College’s Small Business Development Center is spearheading a new program to promote shopping at local businesses. (The Enterprise/File).

ONTARIO – The Treasure Valley Community College Small Business Development Center, area chambers of commerce and local businesses are crafting a unique plan to jumpstart holiday shopping across the area.

Dubbed “Shop Four Rivers,” the new program intended to support local businesses allows consumers to buy a virtual MasterCard, load the card with money and then use it at participating businesses across Malheur, Payette and Washington counties.

“It is to stimulate shopping local and to try to ignite our local community,” said Andrea Testi, director for business and workforce learning at Treasure Valley Community College.

 “It is like getting a gift card that can be used in more than one location. Businesses have to sign up to accept the card,” said John Breidenbach, president and chief executive officer of the Ontario Area Chamber of Commerce.

While the program, sponsored by the Malheur Enterprise, is still in its preliminary stage, more than 20 local businesses have already signed on to participate.

To acquire the card, consumers and businesses can go to www.shopfourrivers.com and click on the “Purchase Card” link.

The E-card is just like a regular credit card. It contains a card number, expiration date, zip code and security card number.

“Everything you need for the retailer” to accept the card is there, said Chris Hollaway, a Treasure Valley Community College Small Business Development Center advisor.

“We are just trying to tell people there is no reason not to shop local,” said Testi. “We are getting really good reception from merchants.”

Businesses can still join the effort by contacting the Ontario chamber at 541-889-8012 or the Small Business Development Center at 541-881-5772 or through the program’s website.

Testi and the team at the small business center began to work on the project about two months ago.

“It is a pure way to try to motivate people and get some general awareness that we still have businesses,” said Testi.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected] or 541-473-3377.

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