After the program provided a much-needed jolt into Turlock’s economy last fall, the City Council on Tuesday approved an additional $1 million for RAD Card funding to help support the local economy.
The RAD Card, or “Relief Across Downtown” Card, is a digital gift card which was created by the Downtown Modesto Partnership last summer in order to reward community members for shopping locally during the pandemic. In the form of a cell phone app, the RAD Card program matches fund purchases of $25, $50, $75 or $100, which doubles a user’s money and can then be used in a city of their choosing.
Turlock is one of 19 communities utilizing the app and funds were previously limited to the City’s downtown. The new round of funding approved on Tuesday, however, will not be limited to downtown businesses and can be used anywhere in Turlock.
“We have really been talking about this because it’s very important to get it out to all of the businesses. It’s throughout the city and that’s the goal,” Interim City Manager Sarah Eddy said. “Everybody has been hurt with the pandemic so it’s important to get this out. It’s a great program and it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Turlock residents benefitted from a total of $275,000 in CARES Act funding allocated to the program last fall from both the City ($25,000) and Stanislaus County ($250,000). The funds became available Oct. 30, 2020, and were exhausted by Dec. 17, 2020, injecting approximately $505,620.44 into 50 of Turlock’s downtown businesses.
Businesses which benefited the most from the RAD Card program last year included Envy Fine Clothing ($118,730.78), Farm House ($105,168.32) and Bella Forte Boutique ($39,787.01). After Councilmembers suggested at an October meeting that newly-acquired federal COVID funds should be used for a business coaching consultant, businesses owners told the Journal that additional RAD Card funding would be more helpful.
Now, business owners across the city can take part in the $2 million cash flow set for the coming months, and community members will be able to see their cash doubled. With Tuesday’s approval of $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for the RAD Card program, the Council amended the motion to provide $500,000 of that money now and the other half in February. The Council also approved $115,000 to be paid to DMP for administrative fees to operate the program.
City staff will provide a report to Council prior to the next round of funding, once again detailing how and where the first $500,000 was used. It’s the Council’s hope that through social media and other advertising efforts, every business in Turlock can utilize the RAD Card program.
Main Street Antiques owner Lori Smith said she went door to door last year and encouraged business owners to participate.
“I want to say thank you guys for listening to us. RAD Card’s a great, great program,” Smith said. “In getting this going last year…the hardest part was convincing people there was no gimmick. Word of mouth seems to get out there once you convince people: there’s no cost to you and funds don’t expire.”
City of Turlock Finance Director Isaac Moreno said that business owners or community members who have questions about participating in the RAD Card program can contact him; the Finance Department can be reached at 209-668-5570. Participation is open only to brick and mortar, non-chain businesses and no pop-up businesses. As of Friday, the new funds were not yet available on the RAD Card app.