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'We're hoping for a win-win': City of Camas offers utility discounts for supporting local businesses

For every $25 spent at small Camas businesses, the city is offering residents $15 off their utility bills.

CAMAS, Wash. — The city of Camas offered its residents an incentive to support local businesses during the COVID-19 crisis: A break on their utility bills.

The city's Support Local & Save Challenge offers residents $15 off their utility bill for every $25 they spend at small Camas businesses. The incentive caps off at $75. Eligible purchases must have been made between April 11 and May 4, though city officials said they may extend the offer beyond May 4.

“What we're hoping for is a win-win for both the utility customers and the downtown corridor,” said Cathy Huber Nickerson, finance director for the city of Camas. 

She said customers have already submitted receipts for everything from bicycles to pizza purchases. Huber Nickerson credited the idea to the city of Newberg.

“One of our council members saw what they were doing," said Huber Nickerson. "So good for them and good for us!”

Participants should mail their receipts to the city of Camas finance department at 616 NE 4th Ave, Camas, WA 98607. They can also put them in the city hall drop box. More details were posted on the city of Camas website

To help customers decide where to shop, the Downtown Camas Association listed which businesses were open, closed and any special deals they were offering. 

Businesses like Hidden River Roasters in Camas appreciated all the effort.

“Every day I try to find the positives in this situation,” said co-owner Holly Metzner. “We have amazing customers who help us and encourage us every day."

Metzner recently installed a walk-up coffee window to improve social distancing conditions, but said perhaps the best incentive she could offer customers is a little of social interaction.

“I had a lady today that said, ‘I live alone,’” shared Metzner. “She said, ‘I'm so glad you're open, I just need to talk to somebody.’”

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