When stay-at-home orders were imposed last year, 43 percent of small businesses in the US closed temporarily, and businesses owned by people of color were especially hard hit. To help, the city of Akron, Ohio, launched a unique program to reward citizens for shopping locally. For every purchase a customer makes through Akronite, a city-sponsored app, they receive reward points. These reward points can be redeemed at any of the participating stores for discounted or even free services. “We are creating a circular economy. We are encouraging citizens to spend money while putting cash back into their pockets,” said James Hardy, Akron’s deputy mayor of integrated development.

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