Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chamber Efforts Result in Coweta County being named Metro Atlanta’s newest designated “Entrepreneur Friendly” community

Thanks to the efforts of an 18-month focus by the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce, Coweta County was named as one of the state’s newest “Entrepreneur Friendly” communities. The designation indicates the community has worked to develop an environment that is welcoming to small business and entrepreneurs. Ninety-two percent of Coweta County’s 3,864 companies are small businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs create the kind of economic activity that is integral to ensuring prosperity and opportunity throughout Georgia,” said Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. “By encouraging and supporting these businesses, we are investing in a stronger future for our communities and the state as a whole.”

Coweta County is the 68th community in the state to be named Entrepreneur Friendly by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). Previously designated Metro Atlanta counties include Spalding, Carroll, and Douglas. Nearby counties in the progress of designation include Fayette, Heard, and Meriwether.

To earn the designation, the Chamber’s Entrepreneurs Thrive in Coweta (ETC!) program completed the Entrepreneur Friendly program with the assistance of the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s (GDEcD) regional representative Kristen Miller. ETC analyzed the county’s entrepreneurial and small business environment and developed strategies to help foster the growth of this critical business segment. Coweta County also underwent a full-day assessment by a review team composed of GDEcD staff and representatives from the Department of Labor, University of West Georgia, Georgia Centers of Innovation and Sen. Johnny Isakson’s Office.

Qualified entrepreneurs and small business owners in Coweta 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 and also have a regional impact. The grant must be matched 50 percent in dollars or in-kind value by the community.

”Coweta County is a fast growing place and entrepreneurs are vital to maintaining our quality of life,” said Mark Fritz, ETC chair and local banker with Bank of Coweta. “Our chamber and its partners recognized the opportunity for new business owners and waned to provide the support that entrepreneurs needed most. We are blessed to have such a visionary Chamber that provides the kind of leadership for these types of opportunities.

Through GDEcD’s Entrepreneur Friendly Initiative, we've launched a program called Entrepreneurs THRIVE in Coweta! This program serves to support entrepreneurial success and maintain a culture that guarantees economic prosperity for all of us."

“Small businesses are the backbone of Georgia communities. By helping entrepreneurs and small businesses grow, 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 applaud Coweta County for incorporating small businesses into its 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.

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