I am humbled to serve as chair of a dynamic group of 25-plus community volunteers and leaders who have accepted the opportunity of making Columbia County a designated Entrepreneur Friendly Community in the state of Georgia. I'd like to share with you what this initiative means, why it is important to existing small businesses in Columbia County and invite you to our small business resource event on Tuesday.
Gov. Sonny Purdue has recognized that if we are going to create opportunities for economic development we must look within. To grow our small business community we must encourage others to expand here - in our county and the state. He notes that more than 95 percent of all Georgia businesses have fewer than 50 employees, and most of Georgia's job growth is a product of their success.
The state of Georgia offers many varied services to assist and support small business and entrepreneurs. To better aid our small businesses, the state of Georgia has created the Georgia Entrepreneur and Small Business Coordinating Network so that state agencies and their federal partners can better coordinate and cross-market their programs, leverage resources, and bring entrepreneurs to the table in hopes of providing better services for the citizens of Georgia.
Of 4,110 businesses in Columbia County, 3,728 are small businesses with fewer than 19 employees. What do these small businesses need to be a vibrant contributor to our wonderful quality of life in Columbia County?
We must consider not only what brings a business here, but what is required of us to help that business maintain and prosper in order to stay here.
Our committee is tasked with producing a forward-reaching small business action plan. Small businesses will be surveyed, the data and feedback will be analyzed and solutions will be identified that will provide small businesses with a useful product or resource tool to help them achieve targeted business results.
Our plan could include identifying business mentors for small-business owners or helping them develop business leadership skills, developing workshops on how to write a business plan, or answering questions regarding tax forms and financing options and sources. The opportunities to help are many.
As you can imagine, becoming an Entrepreneur Friendly Community is not an easy task. Addressing issues and opportunities identified in this process requires time and dedication.
This effort has begun and we need you to be an important part of the process. Please join us as we conduct our first Entrepreneur Friendly Resource Event Tuesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Columbia County Board of Education Auditorium. Invited speakers will provide an overview of what is required at a high-level view. There is no cost to attend the workshop. Lunch is available for $10. Reserve your seat by contacting Karen Chrjapin at 651-0018.
Thank you to the Development Authority of Columbia County, the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and Adela Kelly, regional project manager, Georgia Department of Economic Development for their willingness to partner together and support this effort.
With the support and help of our community and leadership involvement, we will continue to grow a sound and vibrant Columbia County which truly offers a wonderful quality of life.
Pat Goodwin is chair of the Columbia County Entrepreneur Friendly Committee, program chair of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Chamber's Business Development Committee.
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