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Near 'Eatside' Passport Program encourages supporting local businesses

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Mayfair Taproom.jpg
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Posted at 6:10 PM, Mar 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-09 23:18:33-05

INDIANAPOLIS — As Indy’s near east side continues to grow, they’re encouraging residents to support local businesses through their NEAR “Eatside” passport program.

The NEAR (Near East Area Renewal) launched the program on February 17.

You can get a “passport” from one of the small food and beverage businesses involved.

Mayfair Taproom, participating business

You have to visit 12 out of the 17 participating businesses, spend $15 dollars at each place, and get a sticker from the establishment afterwards.

Once you do that, you can automatically qualify for a $50 gift card.

“We all think it’s important that we have new visitors come see what we got going on over here,” said Mayfair Tap Owner, Hilary Powers, participating in the program.

Powers helped bring the program back this time to focus specifically on food and beverage businesses.

The program is a part of the NEAR’s push to support redeveloping historic community.

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Passport Program

“We have had a number of grants over the years. Fairly recent, we got a $10 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to help support arts on 10th street,” said NEAR’s Director of Economic Development, Susan Vogt. “We, of course, try to bring in grant dollars to the community and help support our businesses."

Powers says she’s seen the recent growth of the area firsthand. She says she's also seen an uptick in traffic since the program began.

“There are a lot of businesses on the near east side, however most of them have been opened within the last five years," said Powers.

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Mayfair Taproom Owner preparing beer

Their goal is for programs like these to continue bringing people from across the city into businesses on the east side.

“We get people coming from all sides downtown, the north side, Irvington, people that live in our community, and they might try a place they’ve never tried before,” said Vogt.

“I think it’s extremely beneficial. Even after this program is over, once they come in, they’re going to want to come back again,” added Powers.

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Residents participating in program

NEAR hopes to bring the program back later this year to focus on retail businesses next.

The current passport program goes until April 13. Click here for a list of local businesses.

You can turn your completed passport in via email to or drop off at NEAR's Office at 960 N. Rural St.