State Government To Spend $2 Million on Ad Campaign To Get People To Buy Products in Massachusetts

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The state government is planning to spend $2 million on an ad campaign designed to encourage Massachusetts residents to shop at locally owned businesses.

Businesses in Massachusetts have taken a hit since the coronavirus shutdowns. Some businesses were shut down for months during the height of the restrictions, and many are still not fully operational. Unemployment in July stood at 16.1 percent, the highest in the nation.

Jon Hurst, president of the Massachusetts Retailers Association, said Tuesday that all of the businesses that belong to his organization are currently open, but that 50 percent of the members are operating below capacity. Eighty percent of the members are making less than they were this time last year, he said.

State officials have created a web site ( with a map that breaks the state into 16 regions, each with a link to a regional chamber of commerce.

“The MyLocalMA campaign was developed as a response to the economic impact that Covid-19 pandemic has had on our local business and our communities. This statewide ad campaign encourages consumers to support their local economies by shopping at Massachusetts businesses and attractions – safely, in person, online, using curbside pickup or takeout. Whatever approach works for you. Do it,” Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito said during a coronavirus press conference Tuesday, August 25.

Governor Charlie Baker has taken criticism for the extent and duration of the coronavirus shutdowns, which have hit the state’s economy hard, as he acknowledged during the press conference.

“I think it’s terrible what the impact of this virus is on particular sectors of our community,” Baker said.

He noted that some businesses have made out, such as WheelWorks in Belmont, where his press conference Tuesday took place. The business has done well because people with more time on their hands who live in or near the affluent town northwest of Boston have bought bicycles.

“… But there are certain sectors of our economy that are paying an incredibly steep price, an incredibly painful steep price for Covid and for a lot of the restrictions and the rules and the guidance that we’ve put in place,” Baker said.

Supporters of the coronavirus restrictions say they are necessary to limit the spread of the virus and keep people safe. Opponents question whether the restrictions are necessary or helpful, and they argue that the effects of the restrictions may be worse than the effects of the virus.

For the ad campaign, state officials plan to spend $500,000 in state funds (through the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism) and $1.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds. The ads in print, television, radio, billboards, and social media are scheduled to start Friday, August 28 and run through the end of the year.

State officials are tying the kickoff to the ad campaign with the state’s sales-tax-free weekend coming up. Many purchases in Massachusetts of less than $2,500 made in person or online on Saturday, August 29 and Sunday, August 30 will be exempt from the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

Supporters of the sales tax holiday say it spurs residents to spend money in Massachusetts. Critics say it’s an inefficient way to try to cover for harmful tax policies and regulations.

Clint Paige, co-owner of WheelWorks, who hosted the press conference Tuesday, said he hopes the sales tax holiday jumpstarts businesses that aren’t doing as well as his.

“I want to talk just a little but about people that aren’t winners right now, and why it’s important to support retail this weekend, and support the people in the food service community, as well, who are particularly impacted by this virus,” Paige said.

He called on Massachusetts residents to spend money at these businesses.

“So what we need to do as a commonwealth, and as citizens here, is see what we can’t do to support all these folks, whether it’s smaller retailers, that are having a tougher time, that may not have been able to catch an idea, like we did, that has captured people’s imagination, and they have a more difficult product to sell, and hopefully they’ll be patronized heavily this weekend,” Paige said.

Restaurants and bars are disappearing. Paige said people should urge members of Congress to approve more federal funds for restaurant owners.

“None of us want to see us lose any of those institutions in our squares, villages, communities, et cetera, that we all seem to enjoy to go to, for lunch or for evening, take the kids, et cetera, and have a nice time,” he said.