Crowdfunding Campaign Seeks to Control Costs of Downtown Damages
Erie Downtown Partnership hopes to raise $20K
COVID-19 has long overstayed its welcome — and social injustice even longer, collectively running up a costly tab. Erie's downtown businesses have tried to cover, but with uncertainty surrounding their next big paycheck, the community is chipping in to pick up the bill.
Erie repeatedly asked how it could help; Erie Downtown Partnership (EDP) answered with a new online crowdfunding platform powered by Patronicity. Each donation — made in $10, $25, $100, or custom amounts — assists local establishments affected by the aftermath of May 30. To date, the organization is well short of its goal to raise $20,000 in funds to assist damaged businesses. As of Tuesday afternoon, 37 patrons had contributed a total of $2,838. The campaign closes Saturday, June 27 at 8 p.m.
The crowdfunding campaign is an extension of the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority's Mission Main Street grant initiative, which was originally marked for façade improvements downtown but was reallocated toward sustaining downtown businesses as priorities changed in light of the pandemic. To date, $55,000 have been donated to 19 downtown small businesses through the Main Street Relief + Recovery plan overseen by the EDP.
"Our business community has shown amazing resilience during this time and we want to continue to support them as they are the backbone of our downtown," says Emily Fetcko, manager of the Main Street program and EDP assistant director.
Every donor of $10 or more will receive an "Erie Loves You" decal inspired by the chalk art that accompanied the cleanup efforts following the initial cleanup. Those donating $100 or more will receive a $10 downtown gift certificate in addition to the decal, as an incentive to patronize downtown businesses as they begin to reopen. Checks can also be made out to the Erie Downtown Partnership, 140 E. Fifth St., Erie, PA 16507 with the note "Business Grant Support."
Fetcko says that while this initiative is specifically geared toward aiding small business owners, "the Erie Downtown Partnership staff and board of directors will listen to our community and work toward actionable solutions to these inequities."
She added, "We are recommitting to ensuring that downtown Erie is a place where everyone feels safe and welcomed. We are reevaluating our inclusion and equity policies and how our services and programs can better impact minority members of our community to start."
Matt Swanseger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org