Few places in the country rely on the success of local businesses as Savannah, and some of that success comes as result of the efforts of Buy Local Savannah.
The organization supports local businesses through a variety of means because of its belief that strong independent outfits add to the character, appeal and, ultimately, growth of the city and its citizens.
As part of those efforts, the group hosts a monthly luncheon with a speaker who aims to provide insights and information to help its members flourish. However, on July 22, the group is getting a different kind of experience as the featured guest is retired NFL player and College Football Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson.
Peterson’s pretty well known in Savannah and the surrounding areas as he was once the starting running back at Georgia Southern University, capturing the 1999 Walter Payton Award. His success at Paulson Stadium in Statesboro led to him being drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2001. He appeared in Super Bowl XLI and played for eight seasons.
However, what’s less known about the man dubbed “AP” is that he faced a terrific struggle growing up: stuttering. Despite being teased and harassed growing up, he worked hard on his stuttering becoming successful on and off the gridiron.
It’s this message — pray, perform, persist — that will be the essence of his talk with the crowd this week. Courtney Rawlins said the luncheons this year have all sold out and she expects the same will be the case this week: 130-plus people.
“We deliver a lot of informational pieces to the businesses and how it's going to affect them and things like that, but every now and again, we like to deliver something a little bit more inspirational and Adrian definitely has an inspirational story,” Rawlins said.
After a difficult 2020, inspiration - along with the determination local businesses often need to survive - and success is just part of what Buy Local Savannah provides its 170-plus members.
The organization is open to Chatham County businesses only and they must be local, which means franchises are a no-go for the group.
Rawlins notes it’s tough for local businesses to overcome the advantages and support national companies provide to franchise owners and this is one way they can get some assistance and support the “big boys” can’t receive.
In addition to the informational luncheons, Buy Local also offers social media support, advocacy with local government bodies, such as City Council and the mayor of Savannah, media sponsorship opportunities and other forms of reinvestment in the community.
“We want to be a one-stop shop where everybody can find what they need in terms of resources, intellectual capital and even financial investment,” Rawlins said adding it’s grown 60% in the last four years.
“We have found that we've had a lot of new businesses joining, and we have found that it's gotten younger, and we absolutely love that we have the perfect mix of young and old, black, white, Indian, Asian,” she said.
“We feel that we've become extremely diverse, which was another goal of ours, and we have taken more of this year of membership dollars and reinvested into the community, by doing small business grants, and donating to nonprofits that are out there doing community work more than we ever have before.”
Luncheon tickets are $25 for Buy Local members and $40 for nonmembers and can be purchased at buylocalsavannah.com/luncheon-registration. Seating is limited and this event is expected to sell out, so those interested in attending are encouraged to register now.