Local business is the backbone of Marshall’s economy. When you shop local, about 52 percent of the amount of your purchase is cycled back into the community rather than the 14 percent that occurs when you shop at a chain.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and a wide range of nonessential businesses shutting down, Robert Coleman, manager of Sullivan Funeral Home in Marshall, wanted to find a way to bring the local businesses still open in Marshall into the limelight.

“What we wanted to do was create a place for our locally owned businesses to advertise and promote their specials for free, and make sure the community had access to that information and could continue to support them,” Coleman said.

For this reason Coleman created the Marshall Delivers Facebook Group just one week ago. Since then over 2,000 people have joined the group, which has grown into a place for Marshall businesses to share their daily specials, changing store hours, takeout and delivery options and much more.

“It has been such a blessing to watch all of the love our community has shown to each other and local businesses during this time,” Coleman said. “We are in a time of crisis and as long as we are able to come together and support each other we are going to be just fine.”

Coleman said that the idea for the group was sparked when another community member showed him a similar Facebook group for Shreveport.

“We saw that they were set up with a lot of Shreveport restaurants and stuff and it seemed like a really good idea, that I was very interested in doing for Marshall,” Coleman said.

With the help of his mom Coleman said he created the group, and just 24 hours later he saw that over 1000 community members had already joined.

“It has been a really amazing and interesting way to see our community come together. I am so overwhelmed by the love and support Marshall has shown to its local business owners,” Coleman said.

Along with working to help promote the local businesses through the Facebook page Coleman said he has also been working to help local businesses deliver food to people just outside of Marshall.

“We will probably have to stop doing this if we have a mandatory shelter in place ruling, but we want to make sure people even outside of our community can access food from our local restaurants,” Coleman said.

Coleman said he and his wife moved to Marshall in 1994, and though he has not been working in the town the entire time he considers Marshall their home.

“We love Marshall. We really do, and all I really wanted to do was to showcase all those businesses. I had lunch at two different restaurants last week and it broke my heart to see that I was the only one, or one of two people in that restaurant when they would usually have been extremely busy,” he said.

Coleman said that he plans to keep the group open indefinitely, and hopes it will continue to help local businesses promote themselves, even after the virus outbreak dies down.

“We want to always be open to helping our local businesses and helping them help themselves through giving them a platform to advertise that won’t cost them any money,” Coleman said.

To check out the Facebook group go to www.facebook.com/groups/1486976758130464/?epa=SEARCH_BOX.