HALIFAX -- For the second year in a row, Atlantic Credit Unions are incentivizing its employees to buy local.

The challenge will see every single employee in Atlantic Canada get $25 to spend at their favourite local store.

"The #Loyal2LocalChallenge is a national initiative from credit unions from across the country in support of our local small businesses,” said Kate Steele, brand marketing specialist.

"Our hope really with the challenge is to support those small businesses that really need our love right now."

"I know personally I am going to spend mine at Birch and Anchor,” said Payton Conrad, Atlantic Credit Unions' community impact coordinator.

“One of my employees and I are going to go out and get some pizza and maybe a couple beverages."

Last year, the challenge injected $67,000 into the region's economy. This year, they’ve surpassed their goal of $80,000.

"It really is just to be able to give back to the community during these times of COVID,” said Conrad.

"Some of the local businesses had to shut down, for sometimes an extensive period of time. and we just want to be able to support the local economy as much as we can."

After a difficult year, the initiative is something the local business community is happy to see.

"I think it's fabulous because as a local small business owner I think it's great that people are putting out an initiative to support small business because during the pandemic it has been difficult at times. So, the more community spirit we can get the better,” said Jenn Service, owner of Souper Duper Soup in Dartmouth.

"Lots of people individually weren't necessarily hurt because of the pandemic, but I don't know of a single business that wasn't impacted through this,” said Paul MacKinnon with the Downtown Halifax Business Association.

The challenge kicked off July 15 and runs until August 15. But the initiative isn’t just for credit unions and their employees.

"We're encouraging folks to spend at their favourite local store or shop and post their purchase, or post their experience tagging the small businesses under the hashtag loyal to local challenge,” said Steele.