NYC, Yelp Partner to Promote Sandy-Hit Small Businesses
By: Heesun Wee
Christmas is a week away and if you're a last-minute shopper, how about supporting East Coast businesses hit hard by Super Storm Sandy—all with the help of a cool, interactive map?
The City of New York and Yelp have partnered to promote small merchants that have reopened after the devastating hurricane in late October. The "Support NYC Small Business" campaign features an interactive map that showcases more than 460 small businesses. "We're Back. Pay Us a Visit," the campaign declares. The map will continue to be updated.
Yelp community managers in the New York City area were key to establishing this campaign. They had their ear to the ground immediately after the hurricane and called on Yelp community members to support local merchants and share information. "We have boots on the ground to interface with folks,who use the site," said Luther Lowe, Yelp's director of public policy.
NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn's office, a Yelp fan, reached out to the San Francisco-based tech firm and the idea was hatched. Founded in 2004, Yelp's website connects users with local businesses. Many consumers use the site to find and rate local restaurants and other area businesses.
In the immediate aftermath of Sandy, technology helped storm survivors stay connected. With phone lines and networks down, many residents were only able to communicate through text messages. Some New Yorkers without power for days gathered in a Manhattan bank ATM vestibule to power up smartphones and swap Sandy war stories. Local businesses hit hard by the hurricane turned to the Internet including the "Yelp Builds Back" page that's focused on the Tri-State area.
The tech company is now promoting the interactive NYC shopping map throughout Yelp.
It's also fighting price gouging, which was reported after the storm. Yelp banner ads ask, "Have you experienced price gouging in New Jersey?" The ads link to the Attorney General offices of New York and New Jersey. (Read more: Scenes From Hurricane Sandy)
As of December 17, the U.S. Small Business Administration has issued more than 77,000 disaster loan applications to businesses in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut counties affected by Sandy.
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