Downtown NA Economic Story

Businesses in downtown North Attleboro could benefit from a plan that would pay customers for shopping locally.

NORTH ATTLEBORO — Whether you call them “NA Bucks” or “Big Red Bucks,” the town may start paying them to customers to shop at local businesses.

The “buy local” plan is one of the proposals Town Manager Michael Borg presented to town councilors last week for federal relief funds plus the town’s own surplus money.

Borg told councilors the plan would use about $25,000 in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan to provide $10 vouchers to individuals who spend $100 at local stores and businesses. They could use the vouchers at participating businesses, which could then redeem them for cash.

The idea is to help businesses hurt by the pandemic to recover financially, Borg said. The council referred the plan to its finance subcommittee and Borg said, “We encourage businesses to come and take part” in that meeting.

He said the town is still seeking a catchy name for the program. “NA Bucks” or “Big Red Bucks” after the high school’s sports teams, were among the suggestions.

The proposal is among the first for using the $1.5 million in federal funding the town has in hand so far.

Borg is also proposing using a prospective $5 million in federal funds being doled out by Bristol County for work at the former Allen Avenue School for use as a regional food bank as well as a center for senior citizens and veterans. “We are looking to engage in public-private partnerships with any regional food banks for this purpose,” Borg said.

That proposal will also go before the finance committee, as will proposal to use $1.2 for repairs to Richards Memorial Library and $1 million for the park and recreation department to improve sports fields around town.

Library Director Frank Ward told the committee that the work will include replacing the building’s roof and trenching around the foundation but closing the facility won’t be required.

The state recently certified the town’s free cash — money not expended for other purposes — at just over $5 million

Borg is also recommending the town spend $18,500 to repair the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Barrows Park. Material holding part of the “V” on the granite monument failed recently but since the damage was not caused by vandalism or an accident, insurance won’t cover the damages, Borg said. The town has $21,000 left over from from a parking lot lighting project that can be used for that purpose, the town manager said.

Tom Reilly can be reached at 508-236-0332 or treilly@thesunchronicle.com.

Follow him on Twitter @Tomreillynews

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