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Amy Walker

The parent company of Chattanooga's Buy it Downtown shopping card is expanding the concept to Knoxville.

Amy J. Walker, chief executive of Buy it Local LLC, said Knoxville is "a great match" for the company's card program, citing the city's downtown improvements . "Quite a few retailers have invested quite a bit," she said.

Walker said she plans to start recruiting merchants this month with the Buy it Downtown Knoxville shopping card program and have it operational by the end of August.

She plans to work with the Downtown Knoxville Central Business Improvement District.

That group's director, Michele Hummel , said the shopping cards will make it easy to support the Knoxville economy and downtown merchants.

"Our downtown cards will be exceptional for corporate gifting and rewards," she said.

Elan Young, the Knoxville group's marketing coordinator, said it will promote the program to its members through its website, newsletter, social media and print advertising.

The new Knoxville program will work the same way as the Buy it Downtown Chattanooga cards, Walker said. Cards will be sold in any denomination from $20 to $500 and can be spent, just as a gift card, at any downtown participating location, she said.

Walker said the Chattanooga company is aiming for 20 Knoxville merchants at launch and it's targeting 40 to 50 by Christmas.

"We're looking to develop corporate accounts and large employers for employee rewards incentives," she said.

Buy It Local also operates a shopping card program in Bradley County.

"There are several other communities we're talking to," Walker said.

Walker launched the shopping card initiative in 2007 in Chattanooga.

Contact Mike Pare at .