In honor of Black History Month, three Black-owned businesses in Savannah were celebrated as part of Hyundai’s Progress Project.
Each recipient received $15,000 with Brandon Ramirez, director of corporate social responsibility & external relations for Hyundai Motor America, adding that it is important for the company to leave their footprint in the community.
“At Hyundai, our global vision is progress for humanity and what that means is giving back to the community where we work and live,” said Ramirez. “As you know, we’re going to be building Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America in Bryan County. During Black History Month, we developed what’s called the Progress Project where Hyundai provides financial support to three Black-owned businesses so they can foster growth in their community.”
Hyundai received recommendations from the Savannah Economic Development Authority, as well as Hyundai of Savannah.
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Latecka Early-Moore, owner of Luxe Hair Salon, said the funds went toward upgrading the restrooms, flooring, lighting, wallpaper and more. Early-Moore has been in business for more than 10 years and said she was ecstatic when she learned she was a recipient.
“I would like to thank everyone involved,” said Early-Moore. “This is so exciting.”
Elbi Elm, owner of The Culturist Union, said the money will go towards fixing plumbing issues and an accessibility ramp.
“With the ramp, we really get to take care of people the way that we want to,” said Elm. “And initially, our plumbing just wasn’t the best. We weren’t able to really give the quality product that we wanted to for the coffee shop.”
Elm added Hyundai’s contribution keeps shops like hers in business.
“Partnerships and collaborations are the driving force for The Culturist Union,” said Elm. “We started by crowdfunding and that’s how we’ve been able to keep the doors open. When corporations align with our mission and values partner with us, it ensures that we keep our doors open and we allow ourselves to be able to take up space every day.”
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Savannah Sauce Company owner Mike Roberson sells jams, sauces and other products inspired by his grandmother Henrietta Smith. With the donation from Hyundai, he can take his creativity to the next level.
“I had an ambition of doing ice cream with some of our flavors,” said Roberson. “Now that ambition has been realized.”
In May 2022, Gov. Brian Kemp, the Savannah Joint Development Authority and local officials announced Hyundai would invest $5.5 billion into an EV factory at the megasite in Bryan County. Ramirez said Hyundai is dedicated to ensuring the community knows they are bringing more than just a plant to the area. The company recently gave $15,000 to the Ronald McDonald House and Georgia Southern University.
“We are very excited about this because this is going to start production in early 2025,” said Ramirez. “With this facility, we will be among the leaders in electrification in the automotive industry. For Black History Month, we are pleased to announce the next stage of the Progress Project. For us, this is about giving back to the community. It has been exciting to see the response and our presence here.”
Latrice Williams is a general assignment reporter covering Bryan and Effingham County. She can be reached at[email protected].