Entrepreneur Friendly Community

Towns and Union Counties are State’s Newest Designated ‘Entrepreneur Friendly’ Communities

Northeast Georgia’s Towns and Union Counties are now two of the state’s newest “Entrepreneur Friendly” communities. The designation means the communities have developed environments that are welcoming to small business and entrepreneurs.

Ninety-four percent of Union County’s 1,102 companies are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. Likewise, ninety-four percent of Towns County’s 654 companies are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. “The economic activity created by small businesses and entrepreneurs brings prosperity and opportunity to every part of Georgia,” said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. “By championing these businesses, we are investing in a stronger future for communities throughout the state.”

Towns and Union Counties are the 107th and 108th communities in the state to be named Entrepreneur Friendly by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). With their designation today, Northeast Georgia becomes the first region in the state to be entirely Entrepreneur Friendly.

“In spite of the fact that we’re being designated in the last round of the EF initiative, we recognized early on that this was something we needed to do for our community. Through the EF initiative we reached a number of new small businesses that our existing industry programs had not touched before, and we believe that our business community is stronger as a result,”

said Erik Brinke, EF committee co-chair and Director of Economic Development for the Blue Ridge Mountain EMC in Young Harris, GA.

To earn their designations, Towns and Union Counties 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. Towns and Union counties also underwent a full-day assessment by a review team composed of GDEcD staff and representatives from the Department of Community Affairs, North Georgia Technical College – Clarkesville campus, Appalachian Community Enterprises, Georgia Tech and White County Economic Development.

Qualified entrepreneurs and small business owners in Towns and Union Counties are now eligible for customized market data, such as demographic and business information, to help them become more competitive. The counties are also eligible for an Entrepreneur-Friendly Implementation Fund (EFIF) grant to help it 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.

“Small businesses are the linchpin in all of Georgia’s communities. By supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses, we help Georgia grow,”

said Heidi Green, chairman of the Georgia Entrepreneur and Small Business Coordinating Network and GDEcD’s deputy commissioner for Global Commerce.

“We congratulate Towns and Union Counties for making small businesses part of their strategic plan for growth.”

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) is the state’s sales and marketing arm, the lead agency for attracting new business investment, encouraging the expansion of existing industry and small businesses, locating new markets for Georgia products, attracting tourists to Georgia, and promoting the state as a location for film, video and music projects, as well as planning and mobilizing state resources for economic development.

For more information, please visit Georgia’s “Entrepreneur Friendly” Initiative.