Grow Financial Federal Credit Union
December 1, 2021

Grow Financial Supports Local Businesses & Community with Grow On Us

In the wake of a pandemic that brought devastation to our local economy, we created Grow On Us. We partnered with a variety of local businesses to give away meals, treats and other specialty products, paid for completely by us. Ultimately, the purpose of Grow On Us was to share much-needed joy with the people in our communities and offer some relief to struggling small businesses.

Grow On Us: Our Credit Union’s Response to the Pandemic

“Thursday, March 12, 2020, for me was kind of when the world stopped. We really didn’t understand the impact [COVID-19] was going to have, not only on our business, but on society as a whole,” said Roberto Torres, owner of The Blind Tiger and Cass Street Deli. He continued, “The cool thing about [Grow On Us] is that Grow didn’t wait for somebody to do the idea and then try to replicate it. They didn’t wait for somebody to suggest that they should be doing this. Grow On Us was their response on the heels of a major humanity calamity — how they were going to lead by example.”

In the first year of Grow On Us, we partnered with 27 businesses in Tampa Bay and eight businesses in South Carolina to give away more than 15,000 gifts. The resulting positive feedback from business owners and community members alike was overwhelming. Misty Sommers, owner of Clementine Chef and participant in Grow On Us, shared, “It was an incredible time for us to watch car after car come through…The idea that people were taking those meals home and having perhaps the best meal they were going to have that week — and it was just given to them — blew us away.”

Grow On Us: Year Two

Fast-forward to 2021, and we saw a continuation of many of the same challenges ushered in by the pandemic. Some local businesses were still struggling to bounce back and economic turbulence continued, prompting an extension of the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. Everyone had endured an emotionally and physically taxing year. There was still a need.

We brought Grow On Us back for a second run, and this time, we added a spin: creativity. Each small business created a specialty item that showcased the spirit of their local area, some putting a twist on old favorites and others designing completely new menu items. These creative products ranged from Cuban Sandwich Pizza to Champa Bay Coladas to Strawberry Guava Pops. Desireé Sims, owner of Peas and Love Gardens, produced a Tampa Bay Herb How-to Kit, a product completely new to her business, which primarily operates creating home-based organic gardens. She said, “As an entrepreneur, usually you aren’t paid for your brain work…the creative hours and things you can’t really put a dollar value on, but I literally got paid to think for my business.”

"The Grow On Us campaign was life-changing, amazing and helped my business in every way possible."

- Desireé Sims

As our second year of Grow On Us ends, we’re grateful to have helped 63 unique small businesses in Florida and South Carolina as we gave away 30,000 meals, treats and specialty products. To say we are humbled by the positive support from the communities we serve is an understatement. Thank you to everyone who participated by coming out to the events and to all the business owners whose time and efforts made it possible! To learn more about each business we worked with, visit

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