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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Thursday, Jun. 11, 2020 1 year ago

Credit union picks up a $200K tab for area residents

Grow Financial campaign seeks to stimulate commerce at small businesses hurt by the COVID-19 crisis.

Many Gulf Coast banks and credit unions have deferred credit card, loan and mortgage payments for individuals and companies harmed financially by the COVID-19 crisis. Grow Financial Federal Credit Union aims to go even further — donating $200,000 to Tampa Bay area small businesses over the summer.

Courtesy. Jared Barr is Grow Financial Federal Credit Union's senior vice president of marketing.

The Tampa-based credit union’s “Grow On Us” campaign, conceived by Tampa-based ad agency Dunn & Co., creates open “tabs” customers can use to obtain a wide range of free products and services, ranging from coffee and flowers to yoga and barbecue food. The idea, says Jared Barr, Grow Financial’s senior vice president of marketing, is to brighten people’s day with small treats they might have had to go without because of budget constraints, while simultaneously providing a boost to small businesses in vulnerable industries like tourism and hospitality. 

“Late last year, we started to be very bold about our mission, which is to serve people and not profits,” Barr tells Coffee Talk. “As the pandemic hit, we started asking ourselves, ‘OK, what can we do to really prove that?’” 

Membership in Grow Financial, with some $2.7 billion in assets, is not required to take part in the program, but several participating businesses are clients, Barr says. About $19,000 of the $200,000 has been donated so far, adds Bri Wagner, Dunn & Co.’s digital marketing manager. 

The “Grow On Us” campaign officially launched May 27. In late May, it provided free candles at Seventh Avenue Apothecary in Ybor City and free coffee at the Blind Tiger cafe, also in Ybor City. On Monday, June 15, fans of Tidal Brewing in Spring Hill can pick up a free four-pack of the brewery's Porch Pilsner.

The credit union, Barr adds, seeks additional small businesses to fill out the “Grow On Us” schedule of open tabs. While there’s no formal application process, he says, customer recommendations via social media — using the hashtag #GrowOnUs — or other means are welcome. 

For details on upcoming open tabs, visit


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