In times where local businesses are facing hardships at every turn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to shop local.

In an effort to aid businesses and residents, the Marshall Economic Development Corporation (MEDCO), the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce and The Marshall News Messenger have partnered together to launch an online directory of Harrison County small businesses.

The directory which will be featured on the chamber’s and EDC’s websites as well as the News Messenger’s print, online and app platforms, showcases any Harrison County businesses, not just chamber members.

On the directory, listings are divided by restaurants, retail/shops, industry and service providers. Beside each business is a phone number and a key with initials regarding if a business has normal hours, special hours, is appointment only, offers curbside/takeout, offers drive-thru, offers delivery or offers online sales.

“It is vitally important to our local economy to shop local whenever and where ever possible. It enables the support of local businesses and services provided in Marshall to become successful and grow. Jobs for many people both full time and part time are provided to individuals who are our friends and neighbors. Theses businesses also provide specialized products. When purchases are made, the money is, in essence, reinvested in our own community allowing for growth,” MEDCO Executive Director Donna Maisel said.

Maisel added that sales tax dollars generated by shopping local helps support essential services from the city of Marshall as well as street maintenance and repair and economic development.

“When business growth occurs, it allows for the financial investment in the additional desired quality of life amenities such as recreation, parks, sports, cultural arts and entertainment. It is up to each and every one of us to do our part to help Marshall grow,” Maisel said.

From the chamber’s perspective, the business directory information was gathered by Director of Communication Dinora Harris and chamber staff members along with Dinora’s husband Rush Harris who helped build the directory.

“Shopping locally not only exhibits a personal investment in the part of our citizens, but we know that each dollar changes hands locally a minimum of 6-7 times. We will always see the benefit of local monies circulating, as small businesses build the heart and soul of most communities; ours being no exception,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stacia Runnels said. “Studies have shown that for every $100 spent, roughly $68 to $73 will return to local activity. For example, when you buy from a local restaurant, you could be supporting the locally sourced vegetable supplier from which they purchase. These businesses hire local employees, who reside here in Harrison County, and return their dollars to our economy, and so on. Thus, the cycle profitably continues! We can essentially be an individual factor of the greater economic good...a stimulus and don’t we all need a little bit of that right now?!”

The Marshall News-Messenger Publisher Jerry Pye stated he is excited to be a part of launching a program that aids local businesses.

“Businesses are the lifeblood of any community and with the economic downturn we need to assist in every way we can,” he said.

To see the business listing, go to page 3B in today’s newspaper.