The Margaret River Business Network will go it alone in the relaunch of the locals’ gift card. MRBN, formerly known as the Margaret River Chamber of Commerce, last week crowed about the release of its 2023 Margaret River Region Gift Card entirely sponsored by businesses within the shire. The cards were first launched at the end of 2021 in conjunction with the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, but the new scheme was entirely run by MRBN on behalf of the business community. MRBN chief executive Annie McFie said the cards were redesigned and now had more than 50 businesses as members. The card program was first devised as a way to help residents support local businesses through a voucher-style scheme, but the cards had grown in scale as more people opted in. “MRBN initiated the program in response to the growing number of big business gift cards being sold locally and sending our hard-earned local dollars to the pockets of big corporations,” she said. “Initially, the program was funded via a sustainable economy grant with the Shire. However, that ended in 2021. “Since then, MRBN have been shouldering the administration and marketing costs while running the program free of charge. Long term, this was untenable.” Instead, MRBN turned to leading businesses which gave the program their backing. “Our amazing local business network jumped on board to sponsor and ensure this much-loved program could continue,” Ms McFie said. “The generosity and community spirit of our local business network never ceases to amaze me. “We are so grateful to our new gift card sponsors and we hope more businesses get involved and continue to strengthen our local economy and support local.” Shire sustainable economy officer Saul Cresswell said the cards were an important way to keep “local dollars circulating in our region”. “We provided initial seed funding to launch the initiative and understand MRBN has sought private sponsorship to assist with administration costs,” he said. Ms McFie said residents wanting a way to support the local economy directly were encouraged to give the cards a try – and more business partnerships were always welcomed. “It’s the perfect Christmas gift,” she said. “The list of card recipients includes beauticians, clothing stores, wineries, hardware, jewellery, art, restaurants and pubs. “The gift card offers the gift of choice while supporting our local businesses.” The cards are available at multiple local retailers including Riverfresh IGA and the Margaret River Visitors Centre as well as the Shire offices. Interested vendors can get involved via email@example.com.