How buying a car in Libertyville can help other local businesses

At the halfway mark, a revived incentive program to buy or lease new cars and help local business in Libertyville is generating interest, officials say.

The Libertyville Rewards program was introduced in 2009 to support and promote local businesses during the recession, and again was offered in 2015.

Village officials revived it as of Oct. 1 and budgeted $75,000 to cover costs.

"I'd say the vehicle sales have been fairly robust but we still have certificate availability at all the stores," said Heather Rowe, economic development director.

Customers who buy or lease new cars at any of 12 dealerships receive village-backed vouchers of $100 for nonresidents and $200 for residents. The program ends Oct. 31. Vouchers will be mailed in early November and can be redeemed through Feb. 28.

Participating dealers each received 30 vouchers. About 80 retailers, including restaurants boutiques, groceries and others will honor the vouchers, with more expected.

"We'll probably get close to 100, I expect," Rowe said. "I think the large response from participating businesses shows how interested they are in getting customers back in their stores."

Rowe said anecdotal reports indicate the village is on track to use all the vouchers.

The program is in partnership with what is known as the Libertyville Mile of Cars, a dealership group. Dealers are donating $100 to local charities for every customer who receives a voucher, and have paid for advertising the program.

"It's exciting to be able to reward customers for their local support and to extend the benefit to residents and businesses throughout the community," said Glenn Bockwinkel, general manager for Libertyville Lincoln and a Mile of Cars representative.

Pandemic-related supply chain issues resulted in an initial lack of inventory for auto dealers but is returning to normal in the fourth quarter, said Dan Marks, Lincoln president.

Sales tax is the top revenue source for the village's general fund, which pays for day-to-day expenses. Services and auto-related businesses account for about 60% of the total, according to the village.

Overall sales taxes generated in June and received by the village in September were down only $21,555 versus June 2019. That was a significant improvement from May, according to Finance Director Nick Mostardo, and reflects more substantial business reopenings including outdoor dining.

However, sales taxes are down about $635,000 for the first five months of the 2020-21 budget year compared to last year.

Like most communities, Libertyville has felt the pinch of the pandemic. As of Sept. 30, total revenue for the current fiscal year dropped 17.6% to $18.5 million compared to a year ago.

On Tuesday, the village board reduced the adopted 2020-21 budget, which ends May 1, by $4.1 million.

Buy a car, get a gift card? Libertyville might try small business promotion program again

  Libertyville Lincoln is one of a dozen dealerships participating in a revived village rewards program designed to help other business. Mick Zawislak/
  Those who buy or lease a new vehicle in Libertyville can get a voucher of $100 or $200 to spend at other local businesses Paul Valade/, 2015
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