When Blue Mountains City Council launched the Love Local campaign in January last year to help rebuild the local economy after the devastation of the 2019/2020 bushfires, its call for residents to “shop, play and stay local” and “spend an extra $20 in 2020” was widely embraced by the Blue Mountains community.
By the time the campaign had been running for 12 months, it had reached an audience of over 3.2 million people.
Mayor Mark Greenhill said: “The Love Local Campaign has been an astounding success for our community. It united us through one of the most challenging years in recent history and has achieved its goal of showcasing what a rich array of natural, cultural and economic assets the Blue Mountains has to offer.
“I thank everyone involved in the first 12-months of the campaign and the broader community for making it such a success.”
Hundreds of businesses displayed Love Local posters in their windows when the campaign launched in January 2020 and the success of its message soon led to similar initiatives cropping up around the State, which also urged people to visit and buy from bushfire affected communities.
In February 2020, to support the Blue Mountains tourism, retail and hospitality sectors, a series of monthly advertising features called Love Local In Focus, was launched to highlight the characteristics of a specific Blue Mountains town or village to encourage locals to visit and explore their own backyards.
Similarly, the Love Local Business Directory was launched on the Blue Mountains City Council website to provide a platform to showcase local businesses and tradespeople to encourage residents to source their goods and services locally.
When the COVID-19 pandemic then hit in March 2020, the Love Local campaign took on a whole new level of meaning as residents, workers and school kids were forced into several weeks of lockdown.
At that point, the focus of the campaign expanded from encouraging residents to spend their money locally, to the launch of entertainment and educational initiatives such as Love Local Live which brought weekly live streams of local musicians into residents’ living rooms and Love Local Lessons, a series of free, weekly online tutorials whereby local business owners taught Blue Mountains kids and adults a whole range of new skills.
When restrictions eased later in the year, the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub where able to offer a program of COVID safe live performances which saw the birth of Love Local Live on Stage.
Finally, the Love Local this Festive Season campaign wound the year up on a high note with a number of late night Christmas shopping and outdoor market events helping to promote the products of local artisans, retailers and food producers.
Mayor Greenhill said: “This campaign showed what makes our community so special, and that we are always stronger together. We will continue to spread the Love Local message in 2021 as we continue to support businesses still doing it tough after an unprecedented period.”
Blue Mountains City Council has also supported local businesses in the past 15 months by:
- Subsidising commercial property rents (in Council-owned premises) & footpath dining fees.
- Launching a significant Destination Marketing Campaign to attract visitors back to the Blue Mountains.
- Successfully lobbying for additional funding for businesses indirectly affected by bushfires, resulting in a new $10K grant for businesses.
- Introducing a range of other business support initiatives including pop up support/information services, and
- Commencing a new regular Business eNewsletter to promote the latest in grant assistance, free business advice and relevant training.
In 2021, Council will deliver a new Economic Development and Tourism Strategy to lead the region into a future of sustainable prosperity, given recent challenges.
This strategy will outline Council’s ten year economic development and tourism goals, as well as a four-year action plan to support local businesses.