Fayette joins elite group of counties

Tue, 02/12/2008 - 5:25pm
By: John Thompson

On Thursday afternoon, a number of Fayette’s movers and shakers gathered on the top floor of the old courthouse in anticipation of a major announcement.

For months, members of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and the Development Authority have been working at a fever pitch trying to get the message out that the community wants to focus on and help encourage the establishment of small businesses.

All the work paid off Thursday, when state officials announced that Fayette County was designated as an Entrepreneur Friendly county by the state of Georgia. The announcement was greeted with a hearty round of applause and an unrolling of an banner proclaiming the designation.

The designation indicates the community has worked to develop an environment that is welcoming to small business and entrepreneurs. Ninety percent of Fayette County’s 4,820 companies are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

“I’ve really been impressed by how well all the communities in the county work together,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development representative Lindsay Martin.

The county is one of only 77 in Georgia to achieve the designation.

Before the announcement, members of the Chamber and Development Authority escorted several state officials around to small businesses in the county.

“I was amazed that these businesses were self-funded and had no debt,” added Martin.

According to a press release heralding the accomplishment Fayette County completed the Entrepreneur Friendly program, analyzed its entrepreneurial and small business environment and developed strategies to help foster the growth of this business segment.

The county also underwent a full-day assessment by a review team composed of Department of Economic Development staff and representatives from the Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Tech, Department of Labor and Georgia Power.

Qualified entrepreneurs and small business owners in Fayette County are now eligible for customized market data, such as demographic and business information, to help give them a competitive edge.

The county is also eligible for an Entrepreneur-Friendly Implementation Fund (EFIF) grant to help it implement specific, long-term programs that support their entrepreneurs and small businesses. The grant must be matched 50 percent in dollars or in-kind value by the community.

Martin also added the county has an ideal situation with the nearly 1,500 acres that still remains vacant in the center of the county.

“Start thinking of ways to encourage medical start-up companies to locate there. It’s a perfect location next to the hospital,” he said.

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