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This is my 23rd year at The Facts. That’s enough time to get to know a place really well, and when your job is to tell the story of a place, it becomes engrained in who you are. You defend it, protect it, celebrate it.

I love this community, especially our local businesses. They are part of what gives Brazoria County its character. They employ our friends, sponsor our softball teams and buy our kid’s projects at auction.

In this year they have weathered closures, restrictions and a swift migration to online shopping. I’ve watched as they innovated on the fly, doing whatever it took to get people into their doors and onto their websites.

Then I saw a statistic that stopped me cold.

“If (Amazon owner) Jeff Bezos gave all 876,000 Amazon employees a $105,000 bonus, he’d be left with exactly as much money as he had at the start of the pandemic.”

It was written by a Washington Post data reporter in a story called “Billionaires won Corona,” which examined wealth on the six-month anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Services like Amazon are convenient, sure, but think of the impact just a fraction of that wealth could have here, at home, spent with our neighbors and friends to promote our local economy.

This year, it’s vitally important that the community support local business. That’s why The Facts has developed the Shop Local, Shop Strong Brazoria County campaign, which aims to instill a sense of civic pride in shopping at local businesses. It officially kicks off at the end of this month, but we have been gathering support to make it happen over the last two weeks.

I’m proud to say our friends in business and industry have thrown support behind this project, just as I knew they would. We have backing from big business like Freeport LNG, BASF, Dow and MEGlobal and non-profits like the Center for the Arts and Sciences and ADAPT. They have bought in at levels large and small to provide local businesses with exposure that would be harder to afford on their own this year, and to incentivize shopping locally.

Their sponsorships will allow us to buy $25 gift cards to participating Shop Local, Shop Strong businesses. So far we have funding for 60 gift cards to be used in weekly giveaways to reward shoppers for spending their money at home. All shoppers have to do is upload a photo of themselves with a purchase in a participating store or restaurant for a chance to win one of the weekly drawings. Watch for the photo gallery to launch in a few weeks.

And thanks to our Grand Prize Sponsor, Freeport LNG, one shopper will be chosen at random to receive a $500 gift certificate to any participating Shop Local, Shop Strong business.

The Facts team is now signing up retailers and restaurants. They will get Shop Local, Shop Strong T-shirts, a window cling and banner with the Shop Local, Shop Strong logo and ads in The Facts, at thefacts.com and on our very popular social media channels. It’s exposure our businesses need to tell their story, and we have packages to fit businesses of every size.

Supporters were the first step. Retailers are Step 2. Get ready for Step 3, readers. That’s when we will call on you to spend your money where it counts — with our partners right here at home.

Together, we will get through this year and thrive for many more. Brazoria County Strong, as always.

Yvonne Mintz is editor and publisher of The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0100 or yvonne.mintz@thefacts.com.

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