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Evans ‘Entrepreneur Friendly’
Drive Begins

Small business owners and economic development professionals in Evans, Bulloch and Screven counties have teamed up with Ogeechee Technical College in an effort to have these three counties designated Entrepreneur Friendly Communities.  As part of the effort, organizers are inviting owners of other small businesses in Evans County to take part in a free Small Business Resource Workshop to be hosted by Ogeechee Tech at its Statesboro campus, Monday, August 27, from 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.; and also to complete a survey that will be sent out soon. For this program, the state defines a small business as one with 19 or fewer employees.

The Georgia Department of Economic Affairs created the Entrepreneur Friendly Initiative to help communities support small businesses and foster an environment where entrepreneurship can thrive. The final designation of an Entrepreneur Friendly Community is made by the governor’s office, and if Evans County earns the label, it will be eligible for a $25,000 grant for further programs in support of small businesses. This could include setting up a local, small business resource center or holding workshops and seminars on topics that businesses need, says Tammi R. Hall, executive director of the Claxton-Evans County Chamber of Commerce.

“Small businesses are crucial to the economic health of our county, and we need to do all we can to help these businesses succeed,” Hall said.  Although three counties are cooperating in the project, each community will have to qualify individually, Hall said.  Geri Wasdin, owner of Picture This framing, is chairing Evans County’s 11-member Entrepreneur Friendly Initiative Committee.  “I wish that our county had had a program like this when I went into business 23 years ago!” Wasdin said. “The Entrepreneur Friendly program will provide invaluable support and access to information that is well-researched and neatly packaged. I strongly encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to take advantage and get a leg up on their futures.”

The Monday, August 27 workshop in the occupational studies building at OTC is being co-sponsored by the Claxton-Evans Chamber and Bulloch County’s Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce. Speakers, each of whom will give a 10-minute presentation, include Ray Snow, Lori Hennessey and Renee Rosenheck from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Lori Durden from the Georgia Southern Small Business Development Center, Jennifer Fordham of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Lynn Ashcraft of the OneGeorgia Authority, Larry Blige for Georgia Tech, Stephen George from the Small Business Assistance Corporation, and Dr. Ben Thompson, vice president of economic development at OTC.

The college is supporting and coordinating the efforts of the three counties in its service area to achieve the Entrepreneur Friendly designation.  “Ogeechee Tech is perfectly suited to assist Evans County in this effort, and we look forward to the positive impact this will bring to the community,” Thompson said.  Ray Snow, regional project manager with the Department of Economic Development, said earning the designation will take a lot of hard work and several crucial steps.  “However, this effort will be more than repaid through the support it will provide for prospective and existing small business owners in the county,” he said.

In the coming months, several activities will be offered to local small businesses, including a resource fair and survey.  To achieve the designation, Evans County’s committee needs to have 25 small businesses complete the survey. Members are currently identifying businesses that fit the definition and will send the surveys by both email and regular mail, Hall said.  “Hopefully the business owners will take the five to 10 minutes to complete the survey and get it back to us,” she said. “We’re going to find out a lot about our small businesses through the process, which I’m excited about.”

The survey asks things such as how the current owners got started, whether by buying or inheriting an existing business or starting one from scratch.  Members of the Evans County project committee include Gail McNeely, Becky Conley, Dana White, Marshall Smith, Cindy Butler, Caughey Hearn, Jeffery Wiggins, Kay Blocker-Sands, Lori Brown, Wasdin and Hall.  For more information on the workshop, the survey or the project in general, call the Chamber of Commerce at 739-1391.

Contact: Barry Turner
Executive Director of Public Relations
Phone: (912) 688-6958
Email: bturner@ogeecheetech.edu

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