Springfield Area Merchants and Business Association (SAMBA) has grown and flourished since its merger with SPAR in 2016. Throughout 2021, SAMBA hosted meetings, provided funding for grantees, and continued to grow in membership. In grand total, SAMBA:
- Held 11 SAMBA meetings
- Awarded 5 Facade Grants and 4 Marketing Mini-Grants
- Assisted 7 *NEW* Businesses in finding their home in Historic Springfield
- Grew membership from 73 members to 86 members
- Recruited 20 first time members
FINANCIAL SUPPORT: Since the inception of the Facade Grant program in 2017, over $28,000 in grants have been disbursed to twenty Springfield businesses. An increase in program funding in 2021 was essential in nearly doubling the impact of the Facade Grant program this year. In 2021, we were proud to award Bishop Classic Motors, Hof’s Printing, Plantaja and Re/Max Supreme with Facade Grants.
In late 2019, SAMBA introduced the Quarterly Mini-Grant. This program assists neighborhood businesses in the planning and promotion of events related to their business which take place in Historic Springfield. In 2021, we were proud to award:
- Sweet Christi’s for their YBK Day event which celebrates youth entrepreneurship
- Simply Ke’say Boutique for their Confessions of a Goddess: State of Emergency fashion show which honored First Responders and Frontline and Essential Workers
- Dare 2 Hire Different Inc for their Special Needs & Different Abilities Talent Show and Pop Up
- Tha SoulFood Smagicians for their Grand Opening
ADVOCACY: SAMBA leadership continually works with local governmental agencies to provide beautification and pedestrian upgrades to the neighborhood. We were instrumental in having the Florida Department of Transportation implement 2-hour parking along Main Street as well as the addition of two handicapped parking spots between 7th and 8th Street in early 2022. Another win for our Historic Springfield businesses have been improvements by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to install historic bus stops, which include adding trash receptacles, shade shelters, and bike racks. Lastly, due to SAMBA’s ongoing partnership with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, concerned businesses have seen a decrease in panhandling and loitering over the past year.
MARKETING AND PROMOTION: SAMBA leadership is consistently working to build a relationship and collaborate with a number of partners to promote the Springfield business community throughout Jacksonville. Through our longstanding partnership with Visit Jacksonville, SAMBA is able to promote our local businesses through their Springfield neighborhood page, Top Lists in Jax, and social media. This is in addition to having Historic Springfield marketing materials in their kiosks at a variety of locations including the Jacksonville International Airport.
Drawing new and returning visitors to our business district is a primary objective. Mutually beneficial partnerships are what help make that vision become a success. SAMBA is continuing its ongoing partnership with the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl for our local businesses to be highlighted to ticket holders as part of the Fan Experience. This will give Springfield businesses a strong economic impact right at the New Year. In May of 2021, SAMBA collaborated with UF Health Jacksonville to host UF Health Week which showed appreciation to UF Health employees by giving them discounts at participating Springfield businesses when they showed their employee badge.
COMMUNITY INVESTMENT AND GROWTH: We are generally one of the first points of contact for businesses who are interested in opening in Springfield. From meeting with business owners to discuss neighborhood needs, logistics, and playing “match-maker” with commercial property owners; we are a valued resource for our business owners. We regularly attend City of Jacksonville meetings with our business owners to speak on their behalf. In 2021, SAMBA assisted seven businesses with the process of opening or expanding in Historic Springfield.
If you’re interested in learning more and getting involved, please join us at a monthly SAMBA meeting held every 2nd Monday at 6 pm (hosted by a member each month).