The Lebanon Wilson, Mt. Juliet and Watertown chambers of commerce are partnering with several area banks to promote more small business shopping with the TennCommUNITY campaign beginning Friday.

According to the Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce, funding from the banks sponsoring the project is being used for new marketing strategies over a six-month period.

“We know our local businesses have been through a lot with the tornado and COVID-19,” Lebanon Wilson Chamber President Melanie Minter said. “The main objective … is for everyone to support our businesses and keep Wilson County communities their first place to shop. It is a united front for all in Wilson County, and we hope other counties will want to visit our communities as well.

The campaign also includes a website at https://tenncommunity.com/, which is expected to provide regular updates with resources and information and support for businesses battling COVID-19 once the program formally launches.

Watertown Chamber President Becky Dungy said the website will help shoppers as well as business owners by including a service directory.

“I may want to buy my husband a set of Case knives for his birthday,” she said. “So I can go on there and look up who carries Case knives in Wilson County. They’ll list all the businesses in Watertown with websites, emails and an explanation of what we provide.”

Whether someone wants to shop in Lebanon, Mt. Juliet or Watertown, the TennCommUNITY campaign’s goal is to help people find their way to a local storefront. Sponsors include Bank of Tennessee, CedarStone, F&M, First Freedom, Liberty State, Pinnacle, Southern Bank and Wilson Bank & Trust.

Those banks decided to get involved after helping neighboring businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program loan process and seeing a need for increased marketing.

“These are extraordinarily challenging times for our businesses,” Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce President Mark Hinesley said in a press release announcing the campaign. “As a community, we often ask our small businesses to support our volunteer and fundraising efforts. By shopping local TennCommUNITY is a chance to show our support for all they have done for our communities. Now more than ever, please shop local.”

Dungy said shopping local can help the economy recover faster from COVID-19 by keeping sales tax revenue steady, along with building relationships between community members.

“COVID-19 has affected us greatly in Watertown,” she said. “I’m a small business owner myself, I own a flower shop, and we’ve been able to keep going by offering delivery. But we have lots of restaurants that at certain points have been closed, and a few are still doing carryout only today. Our goal is to encourage people to come back to places like that instead of swiping on their phones or heading to Amazon.”

Minter said the initiative is also a way to thank local businesses for sponsoring various community events over the years.

“Overall, we want our businesses to succeed, we want to give them a sense of community and make they know they’re supported,” she said. “Our small businesses have given so much to us, and it’s our turn to give back to them.”

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