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New Costa Mesa campaign urges shopping local to end ‘economic pandemic’

A Nordstrom service employee left an order for a customer on top of the car's trunk when the trunk did not open automatically at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa on Friday.
A Nordstrom service employee left an order for a customer on top of the car’s trunk when the trunk did not open automatically at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa on Friday.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

For Costa Mesa city officials and business leaders, the road to eventual economic recovery has a new signpost that reads: “Costa Mesa’s BAC.”

A new campaign in the making aims to impart to residents that recovery from what city officials are calling the “economic pandemic” of COVID-19 can only happen if people keep commerce inside city limits by shopping locally.

“Costa Mesa’s BAC” is a more than a clever acronym describing the new Business Assistance Collaborative that’s formed among city staff, chamber representatives and industry leaders throughout the local community — it’s an emblem of a rebirth officials hope comes sooner rather than later.

“It really starts with a lot of awareness from our community to think local first,’ said Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Eileen Benjamin. “There’s nothing wrong with Amazon, but let’s be thinking about our businesses.”

Dan Inloes, the city’s economic development administrator and leader of the grassroots initiative, said the city adopted its 2019-20 budget with the assumption it would see $58.7 million in sales tax revenues.

Miriam Lopez delivers a shirt to Von Eclevia on the curb at Macy's South Coast Plaza on May 8.
Miriam Lopez delivers a shirt to Von Eclevia on the curb at Macy’s South Coast Plaza on May 8.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Now, that number stands closer to $48.1 million — which means a shortfall of about $10.6 million that would have gone to support Costa Mesa’s everyday operations.

“Retail sales is a significant portion of a city’s revenue, and substantial loss in this revenue may mean loss in future infrastructure projects, community service or other common goods the city provides,” Inloes said.

“What people may not know is they can be the cure for the economic pandemic caused by COVID-19 by boosting sales locally,” he continued.

The collaborative plans to activate a contingent of “champions” who will work to spread the word in person and through social media about the need to support city businesses in the days and weeks ahead.

Another goal of the campaign, Inloes said, is encouraging residents to adhere to guidelines that allow businesses to reopen and operate safely.

Costa Mesa’s BAC is timed to coincide with the gradual reopening of Costa Mesa businesses, some of which began offering curbside pickup service to customers starting May 8.

South Coast Plaza has debuted SCP 2 GO, a contact-free curbside pickup program offered by more than 80 stores and restaurants at the Costa Mesa-based shopping mall.

Last Friday, the city’s flagship mall South Coast Plaza launched SPC 2 Go, a service that allows customers to order goods from 80 stores and restaurants inside the center and pick them up from an outside station.

Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said curbside pickup is a lifeline for the city. When locals order goods online and arrange for home delivery, the point of sale often defaults to the city in which a company’s headquarters is based.

When customers opt to pick up their items directly from a retail store in town, the sales tax stays in town.

“It’s super important if you shop online to pick it up at the store,” Foley said. “Sales tax doesn’t stay here locally if items get delivered to [customers’] homes.”

Benjamin said the chamber is building a comprehensive list among its 500-member network of businesses that are open and ready to serve patrons today and helping business leaders navigate loans and assistance programs, while cataloging challenges across industries.

“We’re here to be a resource to every business to make sure they’re doing everything they can to survive the pandemic,” she said.

Email david.carrillo@latimes.com to sign up for the newsletter featuring the latest news involving Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Fountain Valley and other parts of Orange County.

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