Taking next steps for entrepreneurship in the Golden Isles
The Golden Isles community is invested in the development of its entrepreneurial ecosystem. Curating a culture of entrepreneurship to help encourage new business and investment is a cornerstone of many thriving regions. However, startup creation is not enough; ensuring that a company to survives past the first year is imperative to support continued job creation and growth for an area.
According to the 2018 Kauffman Foundation Indicator of Entrepreneurship, startup activity in the state of Georgia has been on the rise for the past five years. Georgia is outpacing states of similar size and gross domestic product with the percent of the population that starts a new business (.42%), the percent of entrepreneurs that create a company by choice in Georgia, not necessity (90.92%), and average number of jobs created in the first year (5.88). While Georgia is ahead in the rate of startups and job creation, the startup’s survival rate after year one is lower than comparable states, 78.65%.
The efforts to support the creation and longevity of small businesses in the Golden Isles have been a collaboration of the private and public sectors to provide the right mix of resources that fit local entrepreneurs’ needs. State and national organizations like the Small Business Development Center and SCORE mentors have a local presence in Brunswick to provide coaching and workshops for entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, new opportunities have been developing to support the region’s small business owners.
Over the past two years, flexible office solutions like the Wick have opened their doors and expanded to serve small business owners with the physical space and culture they need. Meanwhile, small business-specific programs are spearheaded by organizations like the Chamber and College of Coastal Georgia.
One of the successful programs in the Golden Isles is the local chapter of 1 Million Cups. 1 Million Cups provides a forum for entrepreneurs to have an honest conversation about their business challenges in a supportive environment.
Learning from existing small business owners is critical when developing new resources or programs. On November 14, a group hosted by Stephen and Courtney Prince of 1608 of the commercial real estate company Liberty LLC, was invited to start a discussion on small business support in the Golden Isles. In addition to learning about everyone’s experience in Brunswick and Glynn County, the day included a visit to the Nashville region to learn about their startup activity and resources.
Touring the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and meeting with various members of Historic Franklin, TN provided the Brunswick leaders an opportunity to learn what is working well in another community, and what could apply to the Golden Isles.
“The leaders in Franklin shared great stories of how they overcame challenges to strengthen their community. Our local entrepreneurs in attendance had a lot of great questions for our hosts. They shared valuable information on the resources they have leveraged while building their business as well as what else they need to continue to grow,” Vanessa Wagner, Director of Business Development, Golden Isles Development Authority.
The inclusion of new business owners, seasoned entrepreneurs, and community organizations is an excellent reflection of the collaboration that is needed to move forward on building a bigger and stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem for the Golden Isles. Learning what is working well, and what barriers exist for our local entrepreneurs is one of the first steps needed for a strategy that can help startups sustain well past their ribbon cutting.
Learn more about the support available to help startups in the Golden Isles at https://georgiasgoldenopportunity.com/local-recources-for-small-business/
Read local coverage of the trip at http://bit.ly/2qZSagQ