BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A group of product and software developers in the New River Valley is using their talents to help local businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We came together right around the beginning of August, particularly when they (Virginia Tech) said ‘Hey. We’re not gonna have any fans here,'” said Kyle Thompson, one of the creators of Localyte.

Fall is typically peak businesses season for Blacksburg, especially with Virginia Tech athletics in full swing.

That isn’t the case in 2020, and Thompson and the Localyte team estimated the area is looking at an $80 million economic shortfall, due to lack of fans, hence the creation of Localyte.

Localyte is an app where businesses in Blacksburg and the surrounding area can sign up as merchants, and fans or visitors who would have been visiting the area can use Localyte to buy online gift cards.

“You’re basically investing in a future visit, a future meal, a future stay,” Thompson described. “Buy it now so you can use it later and really help these businesses now.”

The concept of Localyte is to give that much-needed cash-flow to struggling businesses now so they can keep their doors open for customers to redeem them in the future.

“There’s a lot of passion, so it’s right time and right place for this type of program,” said Joshua Roseberry, Owner and GM of Clay Corner Inn.

Roseberry became the owner of the Clay Corner Inn in early July and has made the bed and breakfast as COVID-19 accommodatable as a guest can imagine.

The Clay Corner Inn depends on university foot traffic.

Roseberry says recently his businesses has come from Hokie alums and football fans who have been coming to Blacksburg just to be in Blacksburg.

“That type of mentality, I think, is exactly the type of person that will support this Localyte program and, in turn, small business,” Roseberry said.

The gift cards can go beyond a customer’s own use. Thompson says “gifting” a gift card is another important aspect of the Localyte platform.

“If you’re a parent or family and you want to get your students something to be able to experience local Blacksburg, you can go on there and buy it right there for them,” said Thompson.

“It’s easy to use; the platform is fantastic,” said Roseberry. “I really think it’s going to be a successful program.”

Localyte doesn’t require additional equipment for businesses transactions.

“Something that has a camera in it,” Thompson said, referring to smart devices (i.e. phone and tablets). “What you can do when a user comes in and presents their QR code, you scan it.”

A marketing campaign was recently launched in hopes of reaching over 100,000 outside fans, alums, and former residents with a campaign #SaveBlacksburg.

Localyte can be found in the app store for iPhones, and Thompson said there will be one for Android users in the next couple of weeks.

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