A new reason to listen to Dave Matthews: to support your local businesses.
On March 26, telecom giant Verizon kicks off a weekly streaming series that will include music, comedy, and gaming events to support small businesses affected by the coronavirus. The program, dubbed Pay It Forward Live, will feature live performances and encourage viewers to tag local businesses on Twitter, as well as purchase goods that are redeemable when the business reopens.
The effort is one of many taking place across the country aimed at providing resources and highlighting the dire straits many of the nation's small businesses now find themselves in. The unprecedented toll of the coronavirus pandemic has forced many small businesses to temporarily shutter or permanently close.
"Small businesses are being impacted in extraordinary ways as we all fight against the spread of Covid-19," Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, said in a statement. "These companies provide employment opportunities, goods, services, and gathering places that are the soul of local communities."
To be sure, they're also Verizon customers. While Verizon stock is being viewed as something of a safe haven--the company is largely expected to retain its strength amid the crisis--it's reasonable to suggest that it, too, faces hardship, as its customers flounder.
Consumer spending has soured in recent weeks, and small businesses have also pulled back expenditures. Like many public companies, Verizon's stock price dropped as the coronavirus spread. Its share value fell from $61 on January 2--around the time the world was first introduced to coronavirus--to just under $50 the morning of March 26.
Besides the streaming event, Verizon will donate $2.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a nonprofit aimed at community development, with the option to give an additional $2.5 million as consumers engage with its programming. The LISC will use the funds to give grants of up to $10,000 to struggling businesses, focusing on entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses, and startups in historically underserved communities. Small businesses hoping to get a grant must submit an application through LISC, which will then go into a lottery.
Verizon will announce the other artists participating in the charitable series on its Twitter and Instagram accounts.