Los Al Bucks, 2nd round, part of new Economic Development plan

Los Al Council splits on 3-2 budget vote. Courtesy photo

The City of Los Alamitos will attempt to build on the success of its initial “Los Al Bucks” campaign as they unveil a multi-faceted economic development plan designed to assist local businesses and provide incentives for others.

“If you recall, for this past fiscal year, we went entered into a huge shop-local campaign, most of you were able to see a lot of marketing material or outreach materials in the community.”

“That said, shop local, support local, play local, so we’re going to continue that approach, “Development Services Director” Ron Noda told the Council in July.

Noda presented an overview of the Council regarding the economic development plans his team would implement throughout the new fiscal year and the costs associated therewith.
In addition to reaching out to incentivize local businesses, Noda said the new Los Al Bucks campaign would encourage residents as well to shop locally.

“Last year, we had a big focus on businesses and when a new business renewed their business license, we gave them a packet that provided information on shopping services,” said Noda.

“This year, we’re going to really hammer out the resident packet,” he said. “So if you’re a new renter or a new homeowner, we’re going to give you that packet as well.”

Noda said the staff was busy reaching out to the community go get answers and data in an attempt to launch the new Los Al Bucks program.

During the holiday season in 2021, the City of Los Alamitos returned $225,000 of the American Rescue Plan dollars directly to residents in the form of a $50 “Los Al Bucks” bill that could only be spent at local businesses.

The city coordinated with businesses to establish a method whereby local businesses could exchange the “Los Al Bucks” for cash within 45 days.

As part of the promotion, residents were required to spend at least $25 of their own money along with the $50 certificate.

Nevertheless, he said the 2021 program had generated at least $100,000 in added commerce to the city, which according to general economic multipliers, could have had a $700,000 local economic impact.

According to the city, Los Al Bucks cannot be used on cannabis related items, tobacco related items, gasoline, home-based business, online food delivery services, lottery tickets, or *alcohol (*alcohol with a meal is acceptable). Los Al Bucks are not redeemable for cash and can only be used during time periods set by the city.

“We learned a lot during program one,” said Noda, adding that they will be partnering with special phone apps to promote specials that could, in some cases, double the value of the “Los Al Bucks.” He said the goal is to have residents visit new local businesses or restaurants.

“We’re tentatively scheduled to launch Los Al Bucks version two on Sept. 19,” said Noda. Another lesson learned, he said, was to “clearly label the envelope” so residents will know there are Los Al Bucks located inside “rather than junk mail.”

He said the city is “slowing down” an educational video to explain the entire process for residents to make sure both sides understand how the program works.

Noda said the city will also launch “Elevate Los Al” which is a business development workshop series “designed to assist local businesses and entrepreneurs within the city.”
“The project will provide information and tips on improving their businesses,” said Noda, such as marketing plans, accessing resources for growth, utilizing technology for improved growth and outreach.

He said the city is looking to partner up with the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce to help implement the program. He said the workshop series will also provide for “personal and professional growth.”

In addition, to jumpstart evening commerce, the city will launch a weekend night market on Pine Street (see related story) and bringing back the Parklet series in the Spring of 2023.

Also, Noda said the city will resume the Business Spotlight Series and the department has planned aa second “Good Morning Los Al,” meeting between city officials and residents and local business owners is scheduled for Oct. 19.

Outgoing Council member Mark Chirco did such a great job of emceeing the first event that he will again act in that role.

“We had a very positive reaction to the first event,” said Noda, which he said is designed to enhance civic engagement between city leaders, residents, and business owners by educating them on programs being offered by the city.

Noda said each department head will give a brief, 2–3-minute presentation. The event is free to community members.

He told the Council that the entire plan for the next six months will cost approximately $285,000.

“It may sound ambitious,” said Noda, “but we’ve done a lot of it already.

Noda said the staff was nearly finished with a plan to beautify the city to enhance local economic development, making the city “modern and energetic and aesthetically looking nice to spur economic development.”