Youngstown officials working on app to help local businesses affected by pandemic

They hope to roll out the app in the next three to four weeks

(WKBN) – The city of Youngstown is looking for businesses to sign up for its new “buy local app” that it’s in the process of creating to support local businesses and boost the economy. 

It’s a reward app. Businesses can sign up, and customers that use it can earn rewards that can be redeemed later. 

“Every business that’s in the city of Youngstown can contribute to the rewards, but those businesses that want to be redeeming businesses, meaning that they will provide the discount or the credit to the users, those are the businesses that we have to engage with and get them to engage to sign on as a redeeming business,” said T. Sharon Woodberry, Youngstown’s director of economic development.

To sign up, businesses can go to the city’s Facebook page. There is a post that links to a questionnaire, and once that is filled out, they will be contacted with a phone call to continue the process.  

Woodberry said the idea came at the end of last year after they received feedback from local businesses about the effect the pandemic has had on them. They have been working on getting more businesses signed up and hope to launch it in the next three to four weeks.  

“We’re also looking at this app to be a source for all types of city information,” Woodberry said. “We’ll be working with local nonprofits if they’ve got stories that they wanted to tell, something that they want to feature. We are actively looking for partners so they can share their content on the app. As there are events that are coming out…we’ll be using that app to announce all of those things.” 

COLU Technologies is building and tailoring the app while the city markets it. It was a one-time cost of $15,000, and Woodberry said the city will be seeking reimbursement from CARES Act funding for the cost of the app.

The company will be able to track the patronage and data from the app. If it is doing well, the company will extend the agreement, if the city agrees.  

“It will be a great source of information for all of the residents of the Valley,” Woodberry said.  

The app will be available on all app stores when it is rolled out in the coming weeks.