My friend, Orange County Chamber of Commerce’s John D’Ambrosio, will retire at the end of the year. As Chamber President, John has presided over many important programs that continue to stress the Chamber’s mission of promoting economic growth in our communities. One of John’s last, and lasting, contributions to this mission will be the Orange Advantage Rewards Program (OA), an important new initiative that supports small businesses in Orange County by boosting the incentives for participation in local commerce. Launched in September 2013, the Orange Advantage Rewards Program works like this: Local small businesses apply to become an Orange Advantage merchant. These businesses then offer customer rewards to those who use their Orange Advantage card. The rewards can be converted to cash value at other participating Orange Advantage Rewards Program merchants.
The more businesses patronized by local shoppers, the greater the rewards they can redirect back into the community. Marketing opportunities are also offered for OA small business owners through the Chamber of Commerce at no charge for the first six months. Hiring and shopping locally is an essential part of my administration’s economic platform. I spoke about the real progress we’ve made in this area at my March 18th State of the County address. The Orange Advantage program offers additional incentives to cardholders and businesses to grow and promote local commerce, and so far approximately 70 small businesses have agreed to participate in OA. To put it in the words of the Chamber of Commerce, "Swipe Orange, Earn Green!"
Orange Advantage already has more than 13,000 cardholders and 20,000 additional cards are on order. It’s expected that 35,000 cards will be in consumers’ hands by April 2014. Merchants who would like to register as OA participants can go online or call the Chamber directly. OA members must also be members of the Chamber of Commerce to participate; there are plans in the near future to have all new Chamber members automatically registered as OA merchants. This would be a welcome expansion for this ultimate "shop local" program. And any consumer can still become an Orange Advantage cardholder.
The Orange Advantage Rewards Program is a valuable addition to our county’s shop local focus. Not only can OA cardholders support their friends and neighbors in business, they can also save time and money while doing it. Orange County Chamber of Commerce President John D’Ambrosio will be missed for his years of innovative leadership when he retires in 2014. With the Orange Advantage Rewards Program, he leaves the county’s economic development on a high note.