Cincy Card Connection Raises over $250,000 for Downtown Businesses

Gift Card Matching Program More Than Triples Original Goal

CINCINNATI (April 14, 2020)The Cincy Card Connection gift card matching program created by Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC), P&G and Empower has officially raised more than $250,000 for Downtown businesses – $131,500 in direct gift card purchases for local businesses and $122,000 through eligible matching gift card purchases.

Launched in early April, the program was designed to alleviate some of the strain Downtown businesses are facing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The three organizations pooled together $37,500 to serve as a matching fund for gift cards purchased at local businesses, with the goal of doubling the money into $75,000 of direct cash infusion into the local economy.

Less than 24 hours after the program’s initial launch, the funds were depleted, but receipts for eligible purchases continued to stream in to 3CDC. So, the organization immediately began seeking additional funders to help cover the match for gift cards already purchased.

Six Cincinnati organizations stepped up to contribute to the matching fund for Round 1 of the program, which has now been completed – Main Street Ventures ($25,000), Downtown Cincinnati Inc. ($25,000), The Haile Foundation ($10,000), Urban Sites ($10,000), the OTR Chamber ($3,000), and Duke Energy ($2,500). In addition, Empower gave an extra $2,500, and generous individuals contributed a total of $6,500 to the matching fund.

As a result, 3CDC will honor all eligible purchases submitted through Monday, Apr. 6 – injecting a total of $122,000 into local businesses through matching gift card purchases in the program’s first round.

“I am proud to be Mayor in a moment we all bear witness to this city’s generosity and resilience,” Mayor John Cranley said. “This program’s success signals that our local support system is strong and that the small business community will thrive on the other side of this crisis.”

The program’s structure involved customers purchasing a gift card from a Downtown business and submitting a receipt of the purchase. Eligible purchases will then be matched with the purchase of a gift card from a similar – but different – Downtown business, spreading the funds to more businesses and encouraging patrons to try new businesses.

The funding organizations, along with other key stakeholders, have developed a system to purchase the matching gift cards in as equitable a fashion as possible. The matches will be purchased according to business type in three categories – bars/restaurants, retail and service.

The 3CDC team is currently working to respond to all submissions and plans to distribute the eligible matching gift card purchases within the next 30 days.

In addition, 3CDC and its partners are working on raising additional funds for a second round of the program that will be announced at a later date.

By the Numbers

Total Amount Raised: $253,000

Total Amount of Gift Cards Purchased: $131,500

Total Amount Eligible for Matching Purchase: $122,000

Eligibility Rules:

  • Gift Card had to have been purchased and receipt submitted to support@3cdc.org between Thursday, Apr. 2 and Monday, Apr. 6
  • Original gift card purchase must have been between $20 and $100
  • Max purchase $100 gift card per establishment
  • Max $500 per person

Total Number of Gift Cards Purchased: 1,928

Total Number of Businesses Benefiting: 157

  • 103 bars/restaurants
  • 43 retailers
  • 11 service

Neighborhood Where Cards Were Purchased:

  • Downtown/CBD: $62,200 (47%)
  • OTR/Pendleton: $37,900 (29%)
  • Location in Both: $31,400 (24%)

Additional Quotes

“We set out to raise $75,000 for small businesses in Downtown Cincinnati, but thanks to the generosity of the individuals, corporations and philanthropic institutions in this community, we’ve been able to do so much more than that,” Steve Leeper, President and CEO of 3CDC said. “We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has contributed to this effort to support these local entrepreneurs, who are so essential to the positive energy in Cincinnati’s urban core.”

Empower CEO Jim Price says, “Ohio has received national praise for its early response to the COVID-19 pandemic and we hope other communities get inspired by the success of the gift card matching program. Imagine the economic ripple effect similar programs could have nationwide.”

“We all understand the current economic situation is unprecedented, and Main Street Ventures has a laser focus on being a resource for our community in this time of great need,” Tony Alexander, Executive Director of Main Street Ventures, said. “The Cincy Card Connection program is a wonderful part of helping our small business friends and neighbors survive. When we heard about the overwhelming show of support from our fellow Cincinnatians, we jumped at the chance to make sure every matching dollar would be fulfilled.”

“During this challenging time, we’re proud to support downtown Cincinnati businesses by contributing to the Cincy Card Connection matching fund,” Brian Banke, Chair of the Downtown Cincinnati Improvement District, said. “We hope this helps ease some of the pain Downtown businesses are feeling and encourages patrons to try new businesses.”

“Urban Sites made a home in Over-the-Rhine revitalizing properties nearly 30 years ago,” Greg Olson, CEO of Urban Sites, said. “Our family is proud to support everything about this neighborhood. Today’s pain and struggle is real and even with this effort there is still more to do. We intend to be right here to help organizations reopen as well.”

“Our organization appreciates the innovation of this program as it not only injects immediate funds into our small businesses, but provides an easy avenue for consumers to support their favorite spot and the opportunity to discover a new business along the way,” Kelly Adamson, Executive Director of the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce said.

“As a result of COVID-19, our vibrant OTR and downtown communities have been temporarily silenced,” Amy Spiller, President, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky, said. “But the Cincy Card Connection Program is an easy way to help small businesses through this crisis. Given our commitment to the communities we serve, Duke Energy is proud to support this impactful program.”

About Empower

We combine Creative and Media to Empower brands. 

Empower was born out of media, but in our 35-year company history we have evolved into so much more. The creative ideas inform the media plan. Media planning informs creative ideas. 

This cooperation leads to innovation on one or both sides of the equation. 

Recognized as an Ad Age Agency A-List Standout, our award-winning integrated team of experts in Creative, Media, Audience, Measurement and Word-of-Mouth Marketing deliver data-driven, tech-enabled and emotionally-charged ideas and solutions. 

Some of our biggest fans include Tempur Sealy, Fifth Third Bank, Gorilla Glue, TriHealth, Brooks Running, Jack Link’s, V-Tech, Bush Brothers, Wendy’s, GNC, Famous Footwear, Ashley HomeStore, Rust-Oleum and PetSmart.  

Empower is headquartered in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of downtown Cincinnati and has a rapidly growing Chicago office. Located in the city’s bustling River North neighborhood – Empower’s Chicago team is just steps from the Merchandise Mart.  

While much has changed over the course of our 35-year company history, some things remain: we are transparent, fiercely independent and we will constantly challenge the media status quo.   

Find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and online.  

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Media Contact:  
Meghann Craig for Empower 
Meghann.Craig@empowermm.com  
O: 513.719.6397  

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