In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the city of St. Petersburg, Florida, and its buy-local group, Keep Saint Petersburg Local, are taking a unique approach to hurricane relief. In addition to restoring power and working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local leaders are encouraging residents to buy local. After weeks of clean-up efforts, Burg Buys Local Week sent a message of resiliency and hope to St. Pete’s small and local businesses.
Shortly after Irma passed through the Tampa metro area, Keep Saint Petersburg Local began encouraging supporters to buy local. The group, which has served the local community since 2011, encourages residents to shop, eat and explore local all year long, but in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the message was particularly loud and clear: “Hurricane Irma was thankfully not devastating for St. Pete, but it has been catastrophic for our local businesses and community organizations,” the group posted on Facebook. “They need us right now, more than ever, and we need them!”
“Some of them won’t make it,” Keep Saint Petersburg Local warned about the community’s small businesses. While unfortunate, it’s probably true: According to the Tampa Bay Business Journal, FEMA estimates that as many as 40 percent of small businesses never recover from a disaster like Hurricane Irma.
In support of those small businesses, the city of St. Pete joined the effort. Partnering with Keep Saint Petersburg Local and the local chamber of commerce, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman launched Burg Buys Local Week, which took place from Sept. 24 through Oct. 1. The week consisted of a series of promotions designed to encourage local residents to support local retailers, restaurants, service providers and more.
Although Burg Buys Local Week has come to an end, Keep Saint Petersburg Local will continue the community’s support for small businesses. In October, the group will host WestFest, an event that showcases small businesses in West St. Pete. WestFest will feature local restaurants, craft beer, local retailers and more.
Hurricane Irma recovery is still underway throughout Florida. As communities like St. Pete rebuild, the message behind Burg Buys Local Week serves as an important reminder that small and local businesses can keep local economies resilient, but only with the support of those around them. For more information on Keep Saint Petersburg Local, visit www.keepsaintpetersburglocal.org.