The Grovetown Merchants Association on Thursday will hold a forum to help the city's small businesses grow.
Association President Sonny McDowell said the 7 p.m. event at Liberty Park Community Center is open to all entrepreneurs and will feature a presentation from the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center.
Debra McKenzie, a local director for the center, will show how businesses can use her organization's consulting and continuing education services.
The center will help businesses find "ways to do marketing, ways to find financing and they can help with employee relations," McDowell said. "It's business management techniques to help improve small businesses."
The merchants have been busy since the group's creation in late 2006. McDowell said the organization has recruited 35 members and recently launched a Web site, www.grovetownmerchants.net.
One of its early victories was a successful pitch to the city council in May to support their Grovetown 2010 Initiative. The initiative is a private-sector drive to help fulfill aesthetic improvements called for in the city's 20-year comprehensive growth plan.
So far, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs has taken photos of existing streetscapes in the city's commercial districts. In September, the merchants will show the city council department renderings of what Robinson Avenue and Wrightsboro Road would look like if city rights-of-way conformed to the plan.
The renderings will show commercial districts with sidewalks, trees, street lights and crosswalks that currently do not exist, McDowell said. Public meetings on the initiative will begin in October, with a citizen committee to be formed shortly thereafter.
"The first step is to educate the public so they can catch the vision we have," he said.
The citizen committee would be tasked to find a design engineer and grants for construction in time to turn over a completed plan to the city council by January 2010, he said.
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