A seafood pitch competition launched by UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant will award funding to seven projects that support Georgia’s working waterfronts and seafood products.
The competition, called What’s the Hook?, is funded by the National Sea Grant College Program and is designed to help individuals and businesses in the seafood industry recover from economic disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, small business owners, university professionals and non-profit organizations presented their ideas to a committee representing diverse businesses, cultures, and communities in coastal Georgia.
One of the awardees, Amy Spinks will use the funding to relaunch a web site for The Darien Social, an online blog she owns and operates to highlight social events and historical places around Darien, Georgia. Spinks says the website will feature six new blogs that spotlight Georgia’s fishing community, seafood industries, local businesses and cultural experiences.
“I love Darien. I want to see the businesses succeed, and with a social marketing platform they have more exposure and can get more business,” said Spinks, who launched The Darien Social after moving there from Atlanta in 2020. After trying and failing to find a central platform for events in the area, she decided to start her own.
“[The Darien Social] has just grown and grown, and to see it go to the next step, I really feel like it’s going to bring financial revenue and impact to the businesses that we support and businesses in the community,” said Spinks.
Bob Pinckney, director of entrepreneurship at the UGA Terry College of Business, also received funding. His project, “Georgia Seafood on My Mind,” will support diverse, off the beaten path businesses and restaurants in each of Georgia’s six coastal counties through the development of marketing content that businesses can use to promote their seafood and tourism offerings.
“In working with startup businesses all the time, one of the biggest challenges is how do you market yourself and how do you do it cost-effectively?” said Pinckney. “This looked like a great opportunity to match up some [university] resources and give some of these restaurant owners a leg up in terms of getting people to be made aware of what they have to offer.”
Pinckney will be working with students at the UGA New Media Institute as well as students in the UGA Entrepreneurship Program on capstone projects to assess businesses and help them come up with strategies for expanding to the next level. They will also create promotional content, like videos and photos, that businesses can use to market themselves on social media or in other materials.
“We’re really excited about this grant and the opportunity for students to have to work with local businesses and promote something that we think is very important for the state of Georgia,” said Pinckney.
The projects selected for funding were awarded based on their ability to promote Georgia’s unique coastal seafood-related experiences, build the resilience of Georgia’s working waterfronts, strengthen Georgia’s local seafood and tourism-related industries, and assist businesses with redefining their operations or business models in response to the pandemic.
The full list of awardees include:
- Oyster Trail Development – Patrick Holladay, Georgia Grown Trail 17
- The Agnes Marie Experience – Don McGraw, Coco’s Tybee Island
- Coastal Georgia Aquaculture Exhibit & Tours – Charlie Phillips, Sapelo Sea Farms, Phillips Seafood & The Fish Dock Bar & Grill
- Georgia Seafood On My Mind! – Bob Pinckney, UGA Entrepreneurship Program
- A Catalyst for Coastal Seafood Eco-Tourism – Alex Smetana, Darien-McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce
- The Darien Social Relaunch – Amy Spinks, The Darien Social
- More From the Shore – Marty Williams, God’s Oceans, LLC
More information about the projects, including the videos of the pitches are available at https://gacoast.uga.edu/whats-the-hook/