The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) provides a community-based program that helps create an entrepreneur environment, building entrepreneur and small business strategy into the community’s overall economic development strategies. These best practices offer more insight into Georgia’s communities’ efforts.
GDEcD has taken Georgia’s communities through proven methods designed to establish an entrepreneur support program, help them better understand their existing entrepreneur environment and develop sustainable, effective local strategies.
Strategic planning is facilitated to help create long-term, sustainable small business development programs, and professional development and staying abreast of trends, topical news and B2B opportunities are continuous services provided for the “EF” practitioners.
KEY STEPS TO BECOMING “ENTREPRENEUR FRIENDLY”
This is how Georgia did it; there are many other methods and approaches to create an entrepreneur culture.
1. Identify the local organization & champion who will lead the community in their entrepreneur and small business development strategy; form the committee that will support the initiative
Key: The committee must be truly representative of the county, including all municipalities, K-12 education, college/university, downtown development, minorities, city and county government, small business owners, financial services, and other entities that have a stake in the local strategy (agriculture, healthcare, SBDC, Department of Labor, youth services, newspaper, etc.).
2. Increase community awareness of and support for strategies, needs and resources; educate the community about the benefits of homegrown business development and fast-growth companies
Key: Create a “How To Start a Business in (Your) County” booklet and/or webpage. Create a system for gathering and reporting job growth, investment, and new businesses. Document committee efforts, such as press releases, business plan contests, entrepreneur spotlights, youth entrepreneur recognition, finance seminars, presentations to civic organizations, and other activities. Include updates in all news & media opportunities and meetings.
Key: Host the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) “EF Program Seminar”; invite other service providers to present information. Invite local governments to present workshops on how they support small businesses. Chamber of Commerce should present a workshop on how they support small business. Learn and share information about the Governor’s Entrepreneur Coordinating Network and the GDEcD Entrepreneur & Small Business Office, and become familiar with our business resources.
4. a) Identify local entrepreneurs
Key: Staff will facilitate the Committee through this activity, and will train Interview Teams for the next step in the process. Training will be conducted after the Committee has demonstrated sufficient activities in the first three steps above. Once entrepreneurs are selected for interviews, the Committee will send a letter to each business owner, describing the initiative and asking for an interview.
b) Identify unique local resources
Key: Staff will facilitate the Committee through this activity. What are the unique assets of the county that support and foster entrepreneurship and small business? Think of attributes such as tourism, agriculture, historic features, location and geography, nature-based venues, and educational specialties.
5. Visit and interview local entrepreneurs; review and compile results to determine appropriate strategies
The minimum number of entrepreneurs to interview:
Key: County of 20,000 or less – 25
County of 20,000-50,000 – 35
County of over 50,000 – 50
All interviews should be conducted face to face by members of the Committee and the staff. After results are compiled, copies of completed interview forms should be submitted to your staff.
6. Schedule the Review Team visit
Key: Staff will conduct a pre-review of the Committee’s documented activities, recommending a review date upon satisfactory completion of the steps. The Review Team will help the community assess current activities and make recommendations for possible new programs or strategies based on your community’s unique opportunities. Receive the “Entrepreneur Friendly” designation.
7. Receive assistance from staff in planning and implementation of ESB strategies that result from the EF process and designation
Key: Within 30 days of receiving the EF designation, the Committee should conduct a strategic planning session where staff will facilitate next steps. Your community is now a member of the Georgia “Entrepreneur Friendly” Team, and you will be expected to participate in opportunities such as professional development, conferences, and sharing of best practices.
Georgia’s communities want to better equip themselves to support their small businesses and build a business-enabling environment. Whether as a result of the "Entrepreneur Friendly" initiative or forward-thinking leadership, they are doing things better. Some of these best practices reach far beyond 'chamber 101' – they are non-traditional, entrepreneurial and creative.Learn More