SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Back to business, the city of Sacramento and the Downtown Sacramento Partnership are teaming up on a big giveaway in hopes of bringing employees back to the metro.

Businesses like All Spicery have had to make a pandemic pivot after their typical clientele changed.

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“A lot of the times we’re picking up people who aren’t working downtown,” said Nicole Vaughn, who works at the store.

She said she’s been seeing fewer state workers than she’d been used to since COVID hit.

“Most of our foot traffic had been state workers on their break or after work,” she said.

These days, more cars pass through than actual feet hit the ground. Many restaurants have taken note of the empty tables. Both the city and the DSP want to see that change.

“Employees are the heart and soul of this district,” said Michael Ault, with the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. “It’s easy to say ‘Hey, stay working from home,’ but we want people to know we miss you.”

Ault said, pre-pandemic, around 100,000 people worked downtown, and downtown Sacramento generates 40% of the city’s property tax. That’s why the city and DSP are encouraging workers to make a return to the office, and including incentives to make it happen.

“We want to bring some of that excitement and energy,” Ault said. “But mostly thank them for coming back to work.”

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The giveaway would include gifts and prizes like VIP passes to the Aftershock music festival, tickets to the Tower Bridge Dinner, staycation packages and gift cards to local downtown businesses – to name a few.

John Hermison hasn’t stopped working downtown since the pandemic started, but he’s been blown away by the transition of the area – including the boarded-up businesses.

“There’s no longer the downtown thrive,” Hermison said.

He hopes an incentive like this works but said he won’t hold his breath.

“I think it’s a hard sell,” he said. “The fact that you can wake up in your pajamas and click on a computer and you’re working – I mean, I’m jealous.”

Still, the plan is a promising boost for business with the goal of making downtown a destination again.

“When you’re ready – I’m ready,” Vaughn said.

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Eligible downtown employees include those in offices, retail and event spaces among others. The drawings to win won’t happen until August or September, but people can sign up for updates on the Downtown Sacramento Partnership website. More updates will be released there soon.