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New app boosts local retail in Boston

The city of Boston is introducing B-Local, a mobile program that awards points to consumers who shop with local retailers.

Developed by the city of Boston and Colu Technologies, B-Local is entering widescale rollout after a successful pilot to help incentivize business at neighborhood stores and restaurants that have been impacted by COVID-19. 

By using the free B-Local mobile app on an iOS or Android device, shoppers earn rewards automatically at hundreds of participating local businesses across Boston when they make purchases with registered credit, debit, or prepaid debit cards linked to their B-Local account. 

These rewards may then be applied as cash discounts to redeeming businesses, with each point worth $1. All rewards are reimbursed by the city of Boston, and there is no cost to users or businesses.

As of Friday, April 16, 269 businesses have signed up to participate on B-Local. These include 185 minority and immigrant-owned businesses, 143 woman-owned businesses, and 46 Black-owned businesses. 

Shoppers may earn rewards at businesses including retail stores, restaurants cafés, gyms and yoga studios, and salons. App users may then redeem their points as discounts toward future purchases. Any Boston-based businesses with a storefront or that engages with customers directly may apply as either a “participating” or “redeeming” business. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they need our help to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Boston Mayor Kim Janey. This dynamic program is a proven and powerful economic tool. By creatively leveraging federal CARES Act funding, the City of Boston can support local business owners, reward local shoppers, and drive a stronger recovery.”

All reward discounts using Boston Points will be reimbursed to businesses by the city of Boston on a biweekly basis. All costs are funded by the federal CARES Act. While Colu Technologies recently helped develop a similar local business app in Akron, Ohio, Boston is the first major U.S. city to launch this program.

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