Boost OC program awards $3.25 million in gift cards to area businesses

Keaton & Lloyd Bookshop, at 236 West Dominick St. in Rome, is among the businesses that have benefited from Oneida County’s Boost OC vaccination incentive program. (PHOTO CREDIT: KEATON & LLOYD BOOKSTORE FACEBOOK PROFILE)

UTICA – Oneida County recently concluded its Boost OC vaccination incentive program, awarding $3.25 million to residents in the form of gift cards redeemable at various area businesses.

The program launched in September, using $2.5 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Act to issue $100 gift cards to county residents who received a COVID-19 vaccine or injection. recall between July 15 and December 31, 2021. The county then authorized an additional $750,000. for the program, for a total of $3.25 million. In total, more than 32,000 county residents received the incentive.

“Boost OC has been a huge success,” County Manager Anthony J. Picente, Jr. said in a statement about the program. “This has helped inspire more than 32,000 county residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 while injecting millions into the local economy.”

Businesses, beneficiary organizations

For Julie Whittemore, who opened the Keaton & Lloyd bookstore at 236 West Dominick St. in Rome last October, the program has been a tremendous boost to launch her business.

“I didn’t really expect it to be as effective as it was,” she notes. However, 103 people chose his store for their gift card, which equates to $10,300 in potential sales for his business.

In addition to directly funding purchases at his company and others, the incentive also attracts more people, says Whittemore.

For the Jervis Public Library in Rome, the Boost OC program was an opportunity to raise awareness of the library.

“We’re always looking for ways to make libraries more visible in the community,” says Jervis Library Manager Lisa Matte. This is especially important after libraries had to close for a while at the start of the pandemic.

Although borrowing books from the library is free, there are a number of paid services people can use a gift card for, Matte says. This includes purchasing an EZ Pass, printing services, selling books, and purchasing tickets to local events.

Even though people didn’t choose the library for their reward gift card, Matte says, the library’s logo was on screen for all to see as a reminder that the library is still here at home. community service.

In the end, only one person chose the library for their gift card, she says, but the library was very actively involved throughout the program helping customers through the Prizeout process to claim and redeem. gift cards. From helping people schedule vaccination appointments that would qualify them for the OC Boost incentive to helping people create an email account to use with the program, staff at the library was there to help, says Matte.

“That’s where we were very actively involved in the Boost OC program,” she says, estimating that the library has helped more than 100 people navigate the incentive program.

Not everyone who received a text or email for an e-gift card completed the process, and Oneida County is working with people so they can still receive their $100 incentive.

“The Boost OC program was a great incentive that helped generate new business while allowing my repeat customers to have another opportunity to support a place they frequent throughout the week,” said Andrea Duvall , owner of Utica Billiards, in a press release. on the program.

“Over 150 people chose the Krizia Martin gift card as their vaccine reward, making the program a win/win for everyone involved,” said Corrine Gates, owner of Krizia Martin Enterprises. The clothing and gift shop owner said the business has seen almost as many new customers as returning customers through the program.

Oneida County has partnered with New York-based Prizeout, Inc. for the digital gift card delivery program via text or email. Recipients must follow the Prizeout process to activate the code and choose the company they wish to spend their $100 on. They can then visit the business, show the e-gift card on their phone, and use the funds to make a purchase. There was also an option for people to receive a gift certificate by traditional mail if they were unable to receive a digital gift card.

A total of 78 businesses participated in the program, including 25 local businesses such as restaurants, retail stores and service providers. Other companies on the award list included restaurant chains such as Applebee’s and Olive Garden; delivery services such as DoorDash and Grubhub; and a number of retail stores including Target, Home Depot, Old Navy and Foot Locker.

Michael N. Clark