WAILUKU - Mayor Charmaine Tavares and a coalition of local businesses will launch a support program called "Got Choice . . . Think Local," which is designed to encourage residents and visitors to support Maui businesses by buying local products first.
The program will kick off Feb. 2, with promotions, incentives and coupons valid for that month.
"For every $100 that gets spent at a locally owned business, it's estimated that $45 goes back into our community," Tavares said.
The private sponsors are The Maui News, Lahaina News, Maui No Ka 'Oi magazine, Pacific Radio Group, KAOI Radio Group, the Maui County Farm Bureau, Maui Printing Co., Maui TV News, Maui Weekly and the Maui Cattle Co.
Businesses can offer information on the products they are promoting and reach out to potential customers through joint marketing via print, radio, the Internet and on the Think Local Facebook page. Participating businesses will receive a listing on the Got Choice . . .Think Local Web site, which is being developed in partnership with Maui No Ka 'Oi magazine, and be included in print advertising, radio and the official "Think Local" brochure.
Deidre Tegarden, the county economic development coordinator, said 30 to 40 applications already have been received. Each manager will decide how to participate. Some plan to offer buy-one-get-one-free deals. Others will offer discounts on purchases.
Businesses already signed up include local providers of restaurant meals, activities, entertainment, culinary tours, apparel, jewelry, gifts, accommodations, home-building services, disposal services, medical services, fine art, floral arrangements, photography signage, and business and professional services.
"We hope this will bring us all together," Tegarden said Wednesday. "If there's one silver lining in this national crisis, it's that we've seen that we're all connected."
Tavares and Tegarden will interview local business managers on the "Think Local" radio program, which will be broadcast on KAOI-AM at noon Feb. 12 and 19.
Part of the drive will be the distribution of recyclable shopping bags, one free per family in exchange for receipts showing $50 in local purchases since Jan. 1. The bag giveaways schedule will be:
* Feb. 13 at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Feb. 15 to 26 at the Kuhao Business Center in Kaunakakai and County Council Services Office in Lanai City.
* Feb. 20 at the Lahaina Cannery Mall from noon to 4 p.m. and the Azeka Shopping Center (makai) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
* Feb. 25 to 27 at the Hasegawa General Store in Hana.
Applications to join the promotion are available through the County of Maui Office of Economic Development at mauicounty.gov/oed. Completed applications may be submitted to Linn Nishikawa & Associates Inc., 569 Kulaiwi Drive, Wailuku 96793, by fax at 242-6668, or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications must be received by Jan. 29.
For more information, visit mauicounty.gov or call the County of Maui Office of Economic Development at 270-7710.
For information or to print out a coupon with participating businesses, visit www.MauiCountyThinkLocal.com.