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Bonus in Form of Vouchers for Small Shops? LOVE IT!

Sunday, December 4, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ester Venouziou
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The Florida Public Services Union, which represents employees of the City of St. Petersburg, is proposing an innovative plan that rewards city employees and helps locally owned, independent businesses: offer bonuses in form of a voucher that can be used only at small businesses!

They are presenting the following proposal to the City Council Dec. 15. 



1)    In recognition of City workers' productivity and maintenance of basic City services, the City shall offer a $500 bonus for the fiscal year 2011/2012.

2)    In recognition of the community’s harsh economic conditions and the need for economic development, jobs and more money directly flowing to the City’s small, locally-owned businesses, the $500 bonus will be distributed in the form of a voucher, script, or local currency, which is redeemable *only* at locally-owned small business establishments and will then be cashed in at the City.

3)    The City and the Union shall take a pre-determined amount of time to develop the program with the assistance of the Small Business Enterprise and Economic Development departments in the City. Such program development would include determining the voucher, script or currency to be used, and the active recruitment of small businesses who will agree to participate in the program.

4)    If the program proves unfeasible by the predetermined date in section 3, the City shall pay the $500 bonus in the traditional fashion on the pay period following such date.


The main point of dispute from the City may be that budget problems affect its ability to find the money to fund the proposal.  In a budget that comprises hundreds of millions of dollars the question of where to allocate funds comes down to priorities.  We believe that the priority of a direct infusion to the City's small local businesses is one that not only will help to counter the economic impact of the Great Recession, but will also create that economic loop between the City, its workers and the small businesses.  It would also create a locally-focused economy that is sustainable and can survive whatever the larger economy throws at us.

Perhaps the greatest end result of this proposal is the way it can build real small democracy. By its nature, it calls for collaboration and input from the small business community on the design and implementation of the program and ultimately on analyzing the results.  If, as we suspect, the program is successful, we can move to even more of this reciprocity between the City, its 2,300 employees and the interests of local businesses and the community at large.