DALTON, Ga. -- Cathy Snyder buys Downtown Dollars as gifts to encourage family and friends to shop locally, specifically downtown.
"Basically, we need the tax dollars to stay in our community for growth in our community and quality of life," the Dalton resident said.
Downtown Dollars are certificates in $10 denominations that are redeemable at downtown businesses.
Veronica French, marketing director for the Downtown Dalton Development Authority, said local shopping is important, "especially in downtown areas because the people that own the shops are our neighbors."
The Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce also has a 10-year-old program called Chamber Checks to encourage local shopping. Chamber Checks are in denominations of $10, $25 and $50.
Beth Morrison, vice president of member services, said that over those 10 years, more residents have shown enthusiasm for local shopping.
"It is important for many reasons," she said. "Local businesses, first of all, they employ local people, so it keeps our job market healthier."
Local businesses also pay local taxes, which helps local governments maintain infrastructure, she said.
"I like to shop local personally because I can go into a store and build a relationship with that store owner," said Ms. Morrison.
Plus, she said, local shoppers avoid the expense and hassle of traveling to shop.
Pat Spence, owner of downtown specialty gift and home accessory shop Raspberry Row, said businesses are grateful when their neighbors come in to shop.
Kasey Carpenter, co-owner of Oakwood Cafe, believes more people are beginning to understand the importance of keeping local dollars at home in a down economy.
"When the economy is tight ... people realize the need to leave money circulating in Dalton, versus going elsewhere," he said.
Other counties have similar programs that encourage local shopping.
Martha Eaker, president of the Catoosa County Chamber of Commerce, said Chamber officials are launching its Shop Local program, where local businesses will post coupons on their Web sites to help lure local shoppers.
* About $100,000 worth of Chamber Checks are sold each year.
* Available at Chamber of Commerce in denominations of $10, $25 and $50.
* Redeemable at more than 85 restaurants and retail stores.
* To order multiple checks, such as large company orders, or for more information call 706-278-7373.
Sources: Chamber Web site, Beth Morrison
* Since the program was revived in 2008, about $4,000 in Downtown Dollars have been issued.
* Available at Downtown Dalton Development Authority office in $10 denominations.
* Redeemable at about 43 downtown restaurants and stores.
* For more information, call 706-278-3332.
Source: Veronica French