Laois Chamber of Commerce are just one year back in operation and what year it has been.
But despite a global pandemic, they have strived to make a positive impact in the local business scene.
Initially they had regular large-scale events – like a high-profile launch in The Heritage in Killenard, a business breakfast in the Killeshin Hotel and a really well-attended jobs fair in the Midlands Park Hotel.
They also had a golf classic in September while CEO Bernie Everard has toured the county prior to the travel restrictions meeting businesses and throughout lockdown conducted a series of video interviews with Chamber members and how they have managed in this most unusual year.
Now they are ramping it more – and have just launched a new dedicated Laois Gift Card which is a “prepaid Me 2 You Gift Card that can be spent in over 100 businesses across the county including hairdressers, jewellers, hotels and restaurants both in store and online.”
“To help our local businesses through these incredibly challenging months in the run up to Christmas we are urging everyone to keep your spend local,” said Bernie.
“Laois Chamber are launching a Laois gift card in collaboration with the Local Enterprise Office and Laois Tourism.
“If you are an employer and planning to reward your employees this year please consider the Laois Gift Card.
“Your employees will see you you care about the local economies and businesses and you by keeping your spend local you will save jobs and livelihoods.”
Employers are reminded that employees can receive up to €500 tax free as a voucher. People wishing to purchase the Laois Gift Card or businesses that would like to be listed as a participating store/establishment can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The launch of the Laois Gift Card comes as Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Catherine Fitzgerald and Deputy Sean Fleming have encouraged people to shop local with Level 5 restrictions limited the amount of retail outlets that can remain open for the next six weeks.
“There are many many outstanding local businesses and shops that employ thousands of local people and we must all support each other during what are very difficult economic times,” said Deputy Fleming, who is now a Minister of State in the Department of Finance.
“I am asking all local businesses to ensure they have a visible and strong presence on all social media platforms, as many people will be looking up sites to see where they can purchase items on line.
“Above all, I urge people to please look at the local sites first and where possible buy locally on line from local businesses.
“Businesses should have arrangements in place for local deliveries and collections where appropriate. I am also asking people to avoid purchasing unnecessarily from sites outside the country where these items can be purchased much closer to home.”
“We’ve all been severely effected by Covid and we in County Laois have had more than fair share of restrictions in recent times,” added Cllr Catherine Fitzerald in a video produced by Laois County Council.
“Now is the right time to consider where you will do your Christmas shopping. Will you shop with online businesses that are based overseas or will you consider shopping locally to support your local producers, local retailers and local town or village.
“Now more than ever local businesses need our support, so why not buy Irish and shop local and retain local jobs and businesses.
“We need to stand together and do as much as we can to foster employment and local business in Laois.
“And remember every €10 spent locally on irish goods generates €24 in benefit to local community.
“Take care, stay safe, look out for each other and together we can get through this.”