On Nov. 27, Main Street Mount Vernon hosted Shop Small Saturday, an initiative started by the group in November 2020 to support small businesses and promote spending during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Main Street Mount Vernon — a nonprofit organization working to foster the economic development of downtown Mount Vernon — participating small businesses offered markdowns and a sidewalk stocking-stuffer sale during the event.
Small Business Saturday coincided with the annual Holiday Parade, where participants marched down Main Street and circled the public square. Dozens of community groups participated in the event, including the Mount Vernon High School marching band. The night finished with the annual square lighting ceremony, attended by Mayor Matt Starr.
In November of 2011, the United States Senate passed a resolution that designated the last Saturday of November “Small Business Saturday” as a means of promoting small businesses and recovery after the Great Recession. Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration coordinates the initiative, and Main Street Mount Vernon has repurposed the event to promote local recovery from the financial strains of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Though this holiday looks a little different, we’re still hoping to spread joy throughout our small businesses and show that support,” Marketing Manager for the Convention and Visitors Bureau Olivia Toth said in an interview with the Mount Vernon News in November 2020.
As workers and businesses in Mount Vernon continue to recover in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is set to receive $1.7 million in financial assistance from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act. A Mount Vernon study group commissioned by Starr’s office recently suggested allocating $100,000 toward small business loans in the city.
The Mount Vernon News also reported that the city will spend a significant amount on paving roads, developing alleyways into “tourist friendly” walkways and hiring someone to “[coordinate] services among the nonprofit service providers.”
In addition, nearly $200,000 from the economic recovery bill is also earmarked to create a new trauma response team within the Knox County Police department for providing expanded social services.
Heading into the holidays, the Knox County Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Mount Vernon plan to host other events in downtown Mount Vernon, including the upcoming Festival of Lights — a residential lighting competition — on Saturday, Dec. 4.