Columbia County recently earned a state honor designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed.
The county became the 61st in Georgia to be deemed an Entrepreneur Friendly community by the state Department of Economic Development.
The Entrepreneur Friendly certification is a program established by Gov. Sonny Perdue that encourages small-business development in each of the state's 10 regions and 159 counties, said Adella Kelly, a regional manager for the Department of Economic Development. The program places special emphasis on companies with fewer than 19 employees and that are innovators in such fields as aerospace, agribusiness, manufacturing, health care, telecommunications and homeland security.
"It has been a long road. It has been a good, fun road," Kelly said to members of the county's Entrepreneur Friendly Committee on Tuesday, after the committee's work on the program was reviewed. "You all get it. You really and truly understand what it is about."
The committee underwent a daylong assessment by the team, which was shown the committee's extensive research and proposed strategies to assist existing and future small businesses in the county, and were given presentations by several county entrepreneurs.
Of Columbia County's 4,576 companies, 91 percent have fewer than 20 employees.
Committee member Zack Daffin, the executive director of the Columbia County Development Authority, said it is important for county agencies to be involved in efforts such as the Entrepreneur Friendly program.
"The way I look at it is small business is a vital part of our economy," Daffin said, adding that what is good for small business owners is good for the county's economy. "They are such a vital part of our overall economy. It is important that we pay close attention to their well-being."
Qualified entrepreneurs and small-business owners in Columbia County are now eligible for customized market data, including demographic and business information to give them a competitive edge.
The county is eligible for an Entrepreneur Friendly Implementation Fund grant to help start specific, long-term programs that support its entrepreneurs, small businesses and the region.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.