Officials in the Merrimack Valley said Tuesday much work remains to bolster the local economy following last year’s disastrous gas explosions, and called for continued efforts to assist small business owners.
At a press conference in North Andover, government and business leaders launched a marketing campaign to encourage people to shop at business impacted by the explosions.
The “Rock the Register” campaign offers incentives to those who shop at Merrimack Valley businesses, including a $500 gift card.
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Thirty percent of businesses have yet to return to normal operations 10 months after the blasts, which rocked communities in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.
“We all have to support our local businesses that have been for generations providing products and services that help our community thrive,” Rep. Lori Trahan said.
“The marketing campaign will serve as a reminder to our friends and to our family that the business here are open and back in business – and they need all of our support.”
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said the campaign would help “improve the foot traffic, helps us get more attention to the small businesses.”
The Sept. 13 disaster displaced more than 8,000 residents, injured more than 20 people and killed an 18-year-old.
Business owners were frustrated in the aftermath of the explosions, which were caused by over-pressurized natural gas lines. A $3 million emergency loan fund was set up to help small businesses, which were able to apply for loans up to $50,000. Federal loans were available for up to $2 million.