OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce is pushing people to spend money in their own communities. To that end, they've launched a new campaign called "Totally Locally" to keep shoppers spending inside the city limits.
The centerpiece of the new campaign is a wooden nickel called a Pelican Pound. Introduced last year, the currency is valued at $5 and is accepted at more than 50 businesses throughout the city.
"Buy local is keeping dollars here in Ocean Springs and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The Pelican Pound is one of our ways to do that," explained Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator Cynthia Sutton. "People come in here, get the Pelican Pound and use it at our local shops and restaurants, which keeps the money local."
Those shops and restaurants are places like Big O's and French Kiss Pastries in downtown Ocean Springs. Both venues are fairly new to the area, but managers say the campaign has brought new faces to their doors, and they hope it continues.
"It's a way to experience new places, which is what they're going to do here. It's just a way to try a new place out and really just get a free $5. And it's right in their backyard," Oren Zweig with Big O's said.
"They get so excited because they can come in and get something for just the $5, and they only have to pay a few cents over that," Jaqueline Ladnier with French Kiss Pastries said.
Businesses say anything to keep money from leaving the city is a good thing.
"I think it's important for people to shop locally because it makes the community thrive. It's fundamental to helping it grow, as well," Kimmy Landry with French Kiss Pastries said.
The Pelican Pounds can be picked up at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce in the downtown train depot. Soon they will be offered to tour groups and people in town for conferences. Funds for the campaign came from the city's two percent food and beverage tax.
View a list of all the venues that currently accept the Pelican Pound: http://bit.ly/1jYKk88