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Perdue awards entrepreneur friendly designation
03.18 EF designation
Gov. Sonny Perdue, center, congratulates Effingham Chamber President Freddy Long, left; Entrepreneurial Friendly Task Force member Talbert Edenfield, right; task force member Theron Rahn, top left; Effingham Chamber Executive Director Ken Stone, top center; and task force member Billy Dasher, top right. - photo by Photo submitted

Representatives of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce were on hand at the March 7 meeting of the OneGeorgia Authority in Hawkinsville to receive special recognition from Gov. Sonny Perdue.  The governor announced that Effingham County has been officially designated as an “Entrepreneur Friendly Community.”

To date, 82 communities in Georgia have earned this designation and more are working toward this important certification.

Once a community has earned the entrepreneur friendly designation, they have the opportunity to apply for entrepreneur and small business implementation grants of up to $25,000 funded by the OneGeorgia Authority. The Effingham Chamber has begun this process.

“We have already developed an action plan which we will present to state officials next month,” Chamber President, Freddy Long said. “Our entrepreneur friendly task force is already putting several aspects of our program in motion.”

Effingham’s effort, according to Scott Hinson, EF task force chair, will include development of a regional Business Resource Center, a free mentoring program for would-be entrepreneurs and business start-ups, the profitability workshop series for small business owners in the area, and formation of Chamber Leads groups and roundtable groups.

Leads groups are designed to help business owners gain new customers and clients. Roundtables, on the other hand, serve as vehicles for solving business problems and learning from one’s business peers. Participants in both of these groups represent non-competing companies and must sign confidentiality agreements.

“Because of the nature of some of these programs, we are going to be regional in our approach,” Hinson said. “The state of Georgia wants to see regional entrepreneur networks that serve people throughout natural trade areas. We feel it makes sense to pool our resources and involve our neighboring counties, other Chambers, agencies and business oriented non-profit groups. We have already begun our regional discussions.

Most recently, the Chamber — through a cooperative effort with the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center in Savannah — added a new online educational resource to its Web site.

Known as SmallBizU, the Effingham Chamber has linked its Web site to 20 different Small Business classes being offered free of charge by the University of Georgia. Go to www.effinghamcounty.com/entrepreneur-driven-programs.62.0html or directly to the University’s Web site http://smallbizu.org/georgiasbdc/.
Each class is designed to focus on a specific need for the would-be entrepreneur or small business owner.

“You can now get the information you want right from your desktop at home or at the office,” Hinson said.

Courses take two to three hours each to complete. They include:

Money courses
Finding Money to Start a Business
Creating a Loan Package
Finding and Attracting Investors
Accounting 101
Tax Seminars and Workshops    

Management courses
Crafting a Business Plan
Activplans Business Plan Software
Strategic Planning and Execution
Starting a New Business
Choosing a Legal Structure
Buying a Business

Marketing courses
Creating Buzz: Small Budget
Market Insight and Research
Positioning
Pricing Strategy and Tactics
Marketing 101 (The Fundamentals)

Master classes
Advanced Entrepreneur Training (now being developed)

“We think this is a breakthrough service for people looking for assistance. We want to recognize our partners at the SBDC for allowing us to link to this great service, and we look forward to offering more collaborative programs in the future,” Hinson added.

The Effingham County Chamber of Commerce will launch more entrepreneur-driven programs in April and May, Hinson said.