A 10-year-old program designed by the Elko Chamber of Commerce to keep business in town has topped the $6 million mark.
The Elko Chamber of Commerce Chamber Checks, launched in 2000, has sold $6.15 million of the checks, which can be used only for local purchases.
Chamber Checks work much like cash or a Visa card, but they can only be used at participating retailers in Elko, Spring Creek, Carlin and Lamoille. Companies purchase $5, $10 and $20 Chamber Checks for their employees as a reward for safety incentives, bonuses, and other perks.
They also are popular purchases for Christmas and birthday gifts.
"It keeps money here locally," says Jennifer Sprout, executive director of the Elko Chamber of Commerce. "Instead of giving cash or a Visa card that you can take out of town, if you buy Chamber Checks they have to be spent here locally. It keeps the tax dollars here and helps keep our economy strong."
More than 500 businesses participate in the Chamber Checks program, with Walmart topping the list of popular places to spend the checks. Other favorites include Big 5 Sporting Goods, C-A-L Ranch and K-Mart. Restaurants also are popular places for the checks.
The program's two biggest participants are Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining.
Matt Murray, spokesman for Newmont Mining, says the company has used the Chamber Checks as incentives for its wellness program and for other types of internal company rewards.
"We truly believe it is a great benefit to the community," Murray says. "The Chamber Checks is a great program. We encourage our employees to shop locally, and the Chamber Checks program allows that."