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‘Buy Local’ among new license plates

Seven Virginia organizations will benefit from specialty license plates approved during the most recent General Assembly session.

During the coming months, the seven new specialty plates will be available for purchase from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Each plate will generate money for its benefiting organization.

One of the new plates will bring in money for the Retail Alliance Foundation Fund. The Retail Alliance Foundation provides education and training in sales, customer service and other areas for small and Virginia-based business owners throughout the state. The plate will encourage Virginia motorists to “Buy Local.”

“We’re very passionate about the Buy-Local initiative,” said Retail Alliance president and CEO Susan Milhoan. “As much time as people around here spend in traffic, why not use the car in front of you as promotion for it?”

With the country’s economic situation hitting small businesses hardest, supporting the local economy is important, said Margaret Ballard, vice president of advocacy for Retail Alliance and the Virginia Retail Federation.

“Local retail businesses have really had a tough time in this recession,” Ballard said. “The vast economic change we’ve been through has really impacted them. We just want to build the awareness that when you buy local, you are helping your community remain vital.”

Most revenue-sharing plates are $25. After 1,000 sets are sold, the benefiting organization receives $15 of every $25 paid to DMV for the plates.

In fiscal year 2009, 52 organizations received a total of $2.78 million in disbursements from the revenue-sharing program. The best-selling plates were Friends of the Chesapeake, Animal Friendly, Kids First, Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, the Washington Redskins and VDOT’s Operation Wildflower. The Virginia Tech plate was the best-selling college plate, generating more than $258,000 for scholarships.

Besides the “Buy Local” plate, other plates approved this year — and their benefiting organizations — include:

Friends of Coal — Coal Worker Safety Fund

Professor Garfield Foundation — Professor Garfield Foundation Fund

Trust Women/Respect Choice — Virginia League for Planned Parenthood Fund

Virginia Kids Eat Free — Virginia Kids Eat Free

Virginia Recycling Association — Virginia Recycling Association Fund

Washington Capitals hockey team — Washington Capitals Charities Fund