JACKSONVILLE, Texas — Following Governor Abbott’s order that all restaurants in the state must keep their dining rooms closed, many businesses without an established drive-thru or pickup base have seen a drastic drop in sales.

In Jacksonville, the local economic development corporation began a program to offer money to businesses supporting local restaurants.

Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation President James Hubbard says the new program reimburses businesses who buy their employees meals from local restaurants.

“There's thousands of employees in Jacksonville intertwined our restaurant industry, and so it's very important to help keep their sales up so they can keep employees working,” Hubbard explained, “Any business that's wanting to buy their employees lunch and spend at least $100 not to include gratuity, JEDCO will pick up half the tab in the form of reimbursement. So the restaurant collects the full amount upfront from the business, and then JEDCO in a matter of days will reimburse the business center.”

The program is not exclusive and allows businesses to support any restaurant of their choosing within the City of Jacksonville.

“Whether they're quick serve, fast casual dining, locally owned, nationally owned, you know, we wanted to be very fair and let businesses provide the food to their employees as they chose,” Hubbard said.

Hubbard says in just a couple days, the organization has seen a large amount of interest in the program.

“We just had 85 employees spent at a local manufacturer today from a local burger restaurant Legends," Hubbard explained. "We're getting calls and emails by the hour about the program. I anticipate we'll do several hundred of these deals by April 10 when we anticipate ending the program."

The Jacksonville Economic Development Council is funded by sales tax, much of which comes from local restaurants. Hubbard says this is JEDCO’s opportunity to return the favor.

“This is really just us giving back to the businesses that have given to JEDCO since our inception in 1995, and we're very pleased and thankful to have the opportunity to do it,” Hubbard said.

JEDCO says if the best way to get involved with the program is to call their number at 903-586-2102.