Banks gets ‘entrepreneur friendly’ designation
BY ANGELA GARY
Banks County is the state’s newest designated ‘Entrepreneur Friendly’ Community.
The designation means the community has developed an environment that is welcoming to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Ninety-two percent of Banks County’s 350 companies are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
“I want to say thank you to our entrepreneur friendly team that worked so hard to accomplish this goal for Banks County,” chamber director Tara Fulcher said. “The Banks County chamber is proud to be named the first point of contact for small business, entrepreneurs and start-up companies in Banks County.”
Fulcher led a committee in gathering information on current businesses and developing a strategy to promote new business development. The committee met for eight months and interviewed 18 business owners.
Last week, state leaders, chamber members and county business owners gathered in Homer for the official announcement that the county had received the designation. Before the afternoon ceremony, state leaders traveled to several Banks County businesses, including Grove River Ranch. Presentations were given from other county business owners, including Joe Book of PakMail and Jerry Boling of Document Destruction.
As part of the process to earn the designation, Banks County completed the entrepreneur friendly program with the assistance of GDEcD’s regional representative Suzanne Browne. The county analyzed its entrepreneurial and small business environment and developed strategies to help foster its growth.
Banks County also underwent a full-day assessment by a review team composed of GDEcD staff and representatives from the Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Tech, Small Business Development Center, White County Economic Development and Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Qualified entrepreneurs and small business owners in Banks County are now eligible for customized market data, such as demographic and business information, to help them become more competitive.
The county is also eligible for an Entrepreneur-Friendly Implementation Fund (EFIF) grant to implement programs that support their entrepreneurs and small businesses and have a regional impact. The grant must be matched 50 percent in dollars or in-kind value by the community.
“The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of entrepreneur is ‘one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise,’” said Jerry Boling, chair of the entrepreneur friendly committee. “Each of these words is important. Entrepreneurship occurs in a business context, meaning the objective is to sell a product or service and make a profit. Entrepreneurs have the motivation that comes from pursuing ones’ own ideas rather than somebody elses.”
Heidi Green, chairman of the Georgia Entrepreneur and Small Business Coordinating Network and GDEcD’s deputy commissioner for Global Commerce: “Small businesses are the linchpin in all of Georgia’s communities. By supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, we help Georgia grow. We congratulate Banks County for making small businesses part of its strategic plan for growth.”
Banks County is the 102nd community in the state to be named Entrepreneur Friendly by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). Previously designated Northeast Georgia counties include Hall, Franklin, Hart and Habersham. Nearby counties in the process of designation include Towns and Union. Dawson County received its designation last month.