The Local Frequency

The Local Frequency is a customer loyalty and rewards program and mobile app that encourages consumer to shop locally and keep the dollars circulating in Juneau’s economy.

Juneau, Alaska

The Local Frequency

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At A Glance

Location: Juneau, Alaska

FHLB Des Moines Member: True North Federal Credit Union

The Impact: Each dollar spent at a local business stimulates 3x more local economic activity than chain stores. The customized app encourages buying local, which in turn, bolsters the economy.

The Need: Small businesses have faced many threats including a shift to online e-commerce during the pandemic. Juneau is looking for ways to promote small business development as part of their downtown revitalization effort.

The Results: In use for six months, there has been consistent month-to-month growth in users, business partners and Local Dollar spending. Continued growth is expected as new promotions and rewards are introduced.

The Key Players: Juneau Economic Development Council (JEDC), Protegra and True North Federal Credit Union.

The Full Story

Research shows that when people shop at locally owned businesses, the result is a boost in the economic growth of the community. For example, data from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance shows that 65% of revenue from small local retailers gets recirculated back into the local economy through wages, benefits, procurement, partnerships, marketing, charity or other avenues. For big-box retailers, only 30% of revenue makes its way back into the local economy.

The Local Frequency, a customer loyalty and rewards program, was born out of this research. It encourages consumers to buy local first and keep dollars circulating in the local economy.

Buy Local campaigns had been done in the past, but JEDC wanted to go further and create a tool that would incentivize users to spend locally while also benefitting local businesses. The downloadable Local Frequency app was developed by software company Protegra. Users purchase “local dollars” through the app via their credit or debit cards. These dollars are held within the users account, and they get cash-back rewards, typically ranging from three to five percent, when they spend their dollars using the app.

Participating businesses are paid out regularly from JEDC based on the amount of Local Dollars spent at their business. There are currently no monthly fees for businesses and the transaction fee is lower than other systems like Square and Shopify.

JEDC’s internal analysis found that just a 10% shift in spending habits away from large corporations and toward small businesses would result in an additional $11.6 million flowing into Juneau’s economy.

The program launched in April 2021, and it has seen consistent growth month over month. In addition to keeping the dollars local, business benefit by increased visibility, marketing capacity and return customers. Future growth plans include tying into the tourism and cruise industries to direct visitors toward Juneau’s local businesses.