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EmpowerLocal Is Bridging the Gap Between Leading Brands and Local Media Sources

A LaunchTN Portfolio Company: EmpowerLocal, based in Franklin, Tennessee, helps leading brands advertise with trusted local and hyperlocal media anywhere in the U.S. The Middle Tennessee-based startup redirects advertising dollars to local community publishers, creating a more robust and profitable local news and information industry.

We caught up with the CEO, Steven Buhrman, about media problems the company is addressing in Tennessee and beyond, the importance of buying “local”, and goals for 2022.


What is the mission of EmpowerLocal?

EmpowerLocal helps leading brands advertise with trusted local and hyperlocal media anywhere in the U.S. By redirecting advertising dollars to local community publishers, we seek to create a more robust and profitable local news and information industry.

Who are the key team members at the organization?

Steven Buhrman, CEO
Steven Ludwig, Executive Chairman
Shawn Chapman, CTO
Corey Little, COO
Bob Faricy, VP Market Development

What inspired you to start the company?

My cofounders and I believe that access to trusted, local news and information is fundamental to our way of life. We have a saying that “Life is Local,” and it’s true. Local is where life happens in the most practical sense – it’s where we live, work (even if remotely), raise our families, and form our deepest sense of community. Yet in an age of the global internet, local media has struggled to compete for ad dollars against massive platforms like Facebook and Google that rely heavily on personalized data to track and target audiences. As entrepreneurs with a background in local publishing and marketing technology, we saw an opportunity to introduce a new kind of advertising platform designed to harness the unique context, credibility, and recommendation power that only local and hyperlocal media can deliver.

What need is EmpowerLocal currently solving or seeking to address?

Local ​community media delivers the credibility, trust, and context advertisers want. B​ut buying local at scale isn’t practical​ for most brands due to market fragmentation, lack of transparent audience data, and complex campaign delivery requirements. Through a first-of-its-kind platform, EmpowerLocal makes contextual, hyperlocal advertising simple, scalable, and measurable for leading brands.

Could you describe your company in three words?

Data-driven, innovative, trustworthy.

How did you hear about the LaunchTN funding program/grant?

I learned about the program through my involvement with Hytch, another LaunchTN portfolio company.

What do you plan to achieve with this funding? 

LaunchTN funding has helped EmpowerLocal grow its publisher network to over 600 local media brands, representing 2,000+ local digital channels across the US and parts of Canada. We’ve also been able to develop and refine platform capabilities to support a growing number of major brand advertisers. Over the next 6-9 months, we’re focused on agency partnerships to unlock greater advertiser demand while rolling out EmpowerLocal’s next generation of direct-to-local, contextual and native advertising solutions.

What do you plan to achieve with this funding? 

Scaling hyperlocal advertising.

Favorite local businesses in your region? 

El Fuego in East Nashville.

Anything else you think we should know? 

While we talk a lot about our national-brand-to-local solution, EmpowerLocal also helps smaller, regional and multi-local brands with localized advertising solutions. We’re always eager to help brands of any size connect more authentically and efficiently with local audiences.

Company Snapshot

Date founded: 2018

Company based in: Franklin, TN

Learn more about EmpowerLocal’s platform and offerings: empowerlocal.com.

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