College of Business Instagram challenge sparks opportunity of local spending and giving amid COVID

Published: November 2, 2020 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University’s College of Business is encouraging students to support local businesses through a new Instagram contest, #LoveAthensKeepItLocal. The contest is open to any student. It began Sunday, Nov. 1, and runs through Monday, Nov. 23. 

The contest’s goal is to boost the local economy, encouraging local spending while increasing public awareness and visibility for local businesses and organizations while negating the effects of COVID-19. The Appalachian Ohio Funders Group reported that since the start of the pandemic last March, 76 percent of local organizations in Athens have lost revenue and 61 percent are still searching for new ways to get additional revenue. 

The contest has been in development by three College of Business professors: Shawnee Meek, Mary Haines and Katie Schacht. 

“Athens is a special place full of memories and joy to so many people. Mary Haines and I are Athens natives, and we played soccer and softball together at Athens High School,” Meek said. “We are thankful for the community and its commitment to supporting local businesses and organizations; it’s important to us that Athens continues its economic development, and that our favorite small businesses thrive even during the pandemic. Athens is just as important to alumni. Katie Schacht attended OHIO for her MBA. She loves the entrepreneurial spirit of Athens and is excited to celebrate the small businesses of this special college town.”

Meek has been working on the contest since Kerry Pigman, director of the Athens Foundation, spoke at the College of Business’s Management Retreat about the impact of COVID-19 on local organizations, also asking for ideas to help. 

How to Enter

To participate, students must create an Instagram post (not story), positively promote a locally owned business or organization, practice social distancing with masks if posting with friends, tag the business or organization being promoted, and use the hashtags #LoveAthensKeepItLocal and #OUOHYEAH. 

Some examples of how students can accomplish this is by buying coffee, holiday gifts, gift cards or other items at locally owned establishments, spotlighting a local organization, practicing social distancing and wearing masks in front of a local business, or donating to a local organization via in-person or online.  

The winner will be determined through top posts and notified via Instagram direct message the week of Nov. 30. The contest award is a $100 gift card to spend at one’s favorite local business or organization.

“It’s our responsibility to come together as the University community to support our beloved Athens due to the impact of COVID-19,” Meek said. “Hopefully this contest can spark awareness and help us be more conscious of where we choose to spend money and buy holiday gifts.”

For more information or to ask questions, contact Meek at, Haines at, or Schacht at