During Sept ember 2020, the Georgia Trend Magazine celebrated 35 years as a statewide magazine dedicated to business, politics and economic development. To commemorate this milestone, the Magazine recognized 15 “Legacy Leaders” from around Georgia who according to the Magazine “have contributed for many years to making Georgia No. 1 for business – as well as a great place to live, work and raise a family.” Two well-known Savannah business leaders, Robert E. James and Greg Parker, were among the 15. About Parker, the Magazine notes that since he started working with his father in their Midway, Georgia gas station convenience store in 1976, he has built Parker’s into a successful enterprise with more than 64 stores in Georgia and South Carolina.
The Georgia Trend quotes Parker in its tribute. “With success comes a responsibility to give back, and we’ve been doing it for years.” Parker donated $5 million to Georgia Southern University in 2018; made a $1 million endowment to the Emergency and Trauma Center at Memorial Hospital, and has donated more than $200,000 annually since 2011 to 430 area schools through the company’s Fueling the Community rewards program.
A native of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, James has been President of Carver State Bank since December 1, 1971. He holds the distinction of being one of Georgia’s longest-tenured bankers, and the African American with the longest tenure of service as President of a bank in America. According to the tribute in the Georgia Trend, there were around 60 Blackowned banks throughout the country when James started at Carver. Today, that number is at 21.
Of his many civic and professional involvements, James has been Chairman of the National Bankers Association on two occasions, a director of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Coastal Empire, and the Georgia Telecommunications Authority. He was Chairman of the Foundation for Public Broadcasting in Georgia and a member of the national board of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). He is past chairman of both Step Up Savannah as well as the Savannah Economic Development Authority.
James is a Trustee of St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System and St. Philip African Methodist Episcopal Church. He is a life member of the NAACP and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity as well as a member of the 100 Black Men of Savannah, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity and The Frogs Club of Savannah. Over the years, he has been awarded two honorary doctoral degrees and numerous other citations.
As the only recipient of Federal New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocations focused exclusively on Georgia, Carver used $30 million in NMTC allocations to attract more than $60 million in investments to create over 600 quality jobs in underserved communities across the state from 2018 through 2019. During 2020, the Federal Government awarded Carver an additional $50 million in NMTC allocations that James anticipates will ignite or support more than $130 million of new investments in Georgia.
We, at The Savannah Tribune, commend Greg Parker and Robert James, two of Savannah’s outstanding leaders, on this momentous recognition.