WASHINGTON COUNTY - Anyone who spends much time traveling in Northwest Florida has likely spotted a blue "30A" sticker on a passing vehicle. Named after the scenic highway that encompasses 19 of the 26 miles of coastline in South Walton County, the stickers were first launched a decade ago to help promote the area and to remind residents to support local businesses and organizations.
One local marketing director is hoping a similar branding strategy - titled "Live Local" - will take off here to promote small businesses in Washington and surrounding counties.
Live Local is the brainchild of Erika Holmes, Marketing Director of OneSouth Bank. Holmes is no stranger to the value of small businesses. She grew up working at Roger's Insurance in Chipley, founded in 1974 by her grandfather, Gerald Lee (Pee Wee) Rogers, and operated today by her parents, Ricky and Donna Miller. Holmes also spent much of her high school and college days working for another small business, Chavers-Brock Furniture & Gifts.
"Ever since I graduated college, it didn't matter where I worked, my employers always said it was my work ethic that stood out. I did not realize I was doing anything out of the ordinary; that is just what I learned from growing up around small businesses, and now I want to help promote the locally-owned businesses here in our area," Holmes said.
Holmes says she pitched the idea to OneSouth Bank CEO/President Kim Davis Wilson and City President Brandon Lovering and gained immediate support, with OneSouth Bank sponsoring the movement.
"It is our goal at OneSouth Bank to inspire and encourage our friends and neighbors to engage with us in a focused effort to support local businesses and participate in projects that enhance the communities we serve," said Davis. "Our local board of directors and staff are personally invested in the growth and prosperity of our community, and we are excited about the Live Local campaign.”
Holmes says she hopes the campaign will also include local businesses supporting each other.
"I'm hoping Live Local become a movement and grow as big as 30A," said Holmes. "In a world where it is easy to shop online, we want to encourage people to live, work, and play in their local community."
Although OneSouth is based in Chipley, Holmes says the bank plans to extend the movement to include Holmes and Jackson Counties.
Live Local stickers and door clings are available at no charge at Piggly Wiggly, Lane's Outdoor Equipment, Rogers Insurance, King's Discount Drugs and Sporting Goods, and Brickyard Market with more businesses expected to join soon.