Watertown, Minnesota gives residents $60 to spend locally

Residents in Watertown, Minnesota are finding a little fun in their mailbox Thursday in the form of $60 to spend however they want within city limits.

It’s the city’s own pandemic stimulus package and so far it’s a big hit.

The stimulus will be sent to every resident in three rounds of $20.

One business – Watertown Floral – said it had already made a difference for them.

“I got four that already came in today to see that the city is working to keep sales in town here it just gives us all more strength,” said Dawn Kroonblawd, of Watertown Floral.

That’s the way the “Chamber Checks” work at one of the town’s 40 local businesses.

The money has to be spent at local businesses. It is not valid anywhere else.

Mario’s Italian Kitchen also thinks it’s a great idea and the owner might toss in something a little extra if you bring one to him.

“Maybe if we see a chamber check, we can add another discount. Throw a cannoli in the deal to make people excited to spend extra money and locally,” said Mario Cortolezzis, the owner.

All 1,600 households will get the checks, which amounts to about $150,000 of the city’s $2 million annual budget. But when it comes to why the city sent out the checks, it wasn’t just to be nice. They wanted to help out small businesses and residents in a town that city leaders feel has been forgotten.

Watertown’s mayor says the city has struggled to reap the benefits of the federal stimulus package and that the state has also not been any help, leaving them no choice but to help residents and businesses themselves.

The city has also helped struggling local businesses with their water and sewer bills.

The checks are good for one year.