A credit program aimed at supporting small businesses in Rochelle, Ill., through a credit on Rochelle Municipal Utilities (RMU) bills has been quite successful, said Michelle Pease, Community Development Director for the City of Rochelle.
“The Shop Local RMU credit program is an economic tool adopted by the City of Rochelle to encourage our residents and businesses to patronize small local businesses who were forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted Pease.
Participating in the Shop Local RMU credit program provides a $60 reimbursement in the form of a credit on a future Rochelle Municipal Utility (RMU) bill for qualifying purchases at retail/service shop and restaurant establishments located within the RMU service territory.
Each residential household, commercial/retail and industrial brick and mortar business within RMU’s service territory qualifies.
The program started in spring 2020 and was designed to be an economic tool adopted by the City of Rochelle to encourage residents to patronize local businesses who were forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We wanted to help our local businesses make it through the forced closings due to the pandemic,” said Pease.
She said that the program was very successful and well received by residents and business owners. The program started out allowing three credits ($180) per household, then went to unlimited credits, then back to only three credits between August 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. The program ended December 31, 2021.
"I would recommend programs like this during times of crisis and certainly 2020-2022 has been a time of crisis,” said Jeffrey Fiegenschuh, City Manager for the City of Rochelle.
“Our utility is uniquely positioned to be able to afford such a program. Our finances are stable, and our load continues to grow,” he said.
Although there was a significant cost associated with funding the program, “the goal of our Mayor and City Council was to assist our local businesses affected by state mandated closures. This program and others funded by the city (direct aid grants) helped make this city council priority a reality. Of all the programs I was able to be a part of in my career, this program is one that I am most proud of.” he said.