Love is in the air during the month of February so it’s no coincidence voting for the city’s Most Loved contest will be open through Feb. 28.

The event is organized by Buy Local Santa Monica and voting runs through the end of this month online at www.buylocalsantamonica.com/most-loved. Voting is conducted entirely online and voters are limited to one vote per IP address. The 2018 contest has expanded to 30 categories but businesses are limited to winning no more than two categories per year.

At the conclusion of voting, the Buy Local Executive Committee works with the Santa Monica High School statistics class to count the votes and winners will be announced in April.

The Most Loved event was created by the Buy Local Santa Monica Committee, a partnership of the City of Santa Monica, Downtown SM Inc, Main Street Business Improvement Association, Montana Avenue Merchants Association, Pico Improvement Organization, SM Pier Corporation, SM Chamber of Commerce, SM Travel and Tourism, and the Santa Monica Daily Press in 2014, all of whom contributed funding to support the creation of the Most Loved Santa Monica contest and awards ceremony.

The event is designed to celebrate local businesses and put a spotlight on best practices in customer service.

Organizers said efforts to promote local shopping have strong impact on community services. City Hall said purchases in Santa Monica raised $8 million for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District last year, helping to fund teachers, textbooks and school programs. Santa Monica businesses generated more than $130 million last year to the City’s General Fund through sales and use tax revenue, business license taxes and transit occupancy taxes that pays for essential local services including police, fire, parks and libraries.

“When we think local first and spend our dollars at a Santa Monica business, we are essentially reinvesting back into our community and making a real difference,” said Jennifer Taylor Buy Local SM Committee Chair and Economic Development Administrator with the City of Santa Monica

In past years, the Most Loved Santa Monica Awards Ceremony has been held in the courtyard behind City Hall. However, due to construction the Courtyard no long exists and staff said they are still considering alternate nearby locations that will allow city leaders to participate in the event.

Organizers said involving city leadership shows the business community that they are valued for the contributions they make to the city.

For more information on the Buy Local Santa Monica campaign and the benefits of shopping locally, visit www.BuyLocalSM.com.

editor@smdp.com

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