WEST FARGO — The city's COVID-19 relief for residents, a $25 gift card sent to all households in West Fargo that could be spent at West Fargo businesses, has now wrapped up.

The Love Your Local Gift Card program ended April 30, after the promotion was extended by about a month in March due to some residents who did not receive their cards right away. As of March 22, 375 residents had spent only about $151,000 of the roughly $420,000 available in gift cards.

On Monday, April 3, City Administrator Tina Fisk said the gift card program generated about more than 12,000 transactions or business visits and about $257,300 was spent in the West Fargo economy.

"I'd say the program was a success," Fisk said. "The program did exactly what (the City Commission) had intended it to do."

Two weeks earlier, Economic Development Director Lauren Orchard reported cards had been redeemed at 97 of the 375 businesses that participated.

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Orchard said businesses such as Cash Wise and Hornbacher's, Deaner's Diner, Petro Serve USA, Sandy's Donuts, Dairy Queen locations, Blarney Stone and J.L. Beers have recorded the most transactions.

Many of the same places are ranked highest in the city for where residents spent the most so far; those include Cash Wise and Hornbacher's, Spitfire, Deaner's Diner, Blarney Stone, Boston's, Traditions, Ostrom's Ace Hardware, Petro Serve and Dairy Queen.

The commission began discussing the program in late December as a way to give residents some monetary relief from the pandemic as well as an incentive to spend at local West Fargo-only businesses. City staff then found an online vendor that helped administer the cards, which did not have to be spent at only one place. The city was able to allocate unused federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay for the cards for the more than 16,200 households in West Fargo. Households included single-family homes as well as apartments.

The estimated total cost of the project was about $486,000, which included vendor services to manage the cards and reimbursements to the businesses, marketing materials and overall program costs to distribute the cards, Communications Director Melissa Richard said.