Sons of Service: Localyte and the #SupportBlacksburg Campaign
For many in Hokie Nation, the Virginia Tech experience would be considered incomplete without fully acknowledging the surrounding Blacksburg community and those all too familiar shops, bars, and restaurants that provided countless memories and experiences during our time on campus.
And it’s those exact institutions that need our help, now more than ever.
The economic impact of COVID-19 has wrought havoc on the Blacksburg community in which, at the height of the pandemic, the Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was reporting as much as 11.5% unemployment, up from 2.4% the year prior, which was mostly contributed to the forced closure of non-essential businesses and a massive decrease in routine patronage.
While there has been governmental intervention over the last seven months to help curb Blacksburg’s economic hardship, the ability for college town businesses to rebound and survive isn’t exactly comparable to other localities when you consider:
1. Blacksburg business plans are based on the seasonality of major on-campus events… aka football, which attracts nearly a half a million visitors to Virginia Tech each year
2. Blacksburg businesses rely on the consistent patronage of Virginia Tech’s 34,000+ on-campus student population, which comprises over 60% of the town’s total population
Without this expected flow of economic activity, the Blacksburg community forecasts a net revenue loss of $80 million to the local economy that will more than likely continue the temporary and permanent closures for many familiar successful businesses.
So with this in mind, the larger question remains… what can Hokie Nation do to help #SupportBlacksburg?
In August, with the expectation of fan-less stadiums and limited campus life activity, a nine-member team comprised of Hokies and motivated residents with varying expertise in technology, marketing, and operations, banded together to see how they could help.
After engaging with the local Blacksburg business community through the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, Localyte decided to engineer a phone application with a simple concept:
Create an intuitive e-commerce platform where local businesses could easily upload various types of gift cards that members of Hokie Nation could purchase for future use.
According to Kyle Thompson, who is heading the promotional campaign effort for Localyte, the collaborative effort is paying off as more than 30+ local Blacksburg businesses are now available on the application (now available for download at the App Store referral code "SONSOFSAT") and an aggressive grassroots marketing campaign is underway that includes the local press, Virginia Tech fan sites (shout out Sons of Saturday), social media groups, and regional alumni chapters.
While it’s notable that the Localyte application is scalable and could expand into other markets due to its simplicity and innovative design the focus, for now, is to #SupportBlacksburg and continue growing the application, which plans to incorporate promotional holiday offers and loyalty programs that are all designed to help continue filtering that much needed lost revenue back to where it helps the most, sustaining Blacksburg businesses and supporting the local Virginia Tech community.