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Saturday, July 04, 2015
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The State of the Rural South's Economy

Selling your Rural Community's Assets

Small Town's with Unique Assets

Highly touted reshoring event hits speed bump, says A.T. Kearney. Really?

Chinese investment surfacing in the South? Yes, finally.

The performance of this Southern industry sector of late has earned an official name: the "Southern Aerospace Corridor."

A success story from the Mississippi River Delta

The 50-year economic development war in the U.S. is over; the South won.

The big dogs are about to eat: Soon, the automotive industry will light up the Southern Auto Corridor again 

Kentucky: The Spirit of the South

New Build-Ready Program Making More Sites Ready-To-Go

A Perfect Partnership

Next Gen KIH Program Taking Broadband to Every Corner of the State

Digital Version

Aerospace Industry Takes Off in the American South

Launching Pad for Growth and Innovation

In "Plane" View

"The Best Airplane Built in America"

Aerospace Industry State Overviews

Petrochemicals and the Southern Manufacturing Renaissance

Non-Petrochemicals and the Southern Manufacturing Renaissance

Ten Reasons Why Manufacturing is Booming in The South

The Most Southern Place on Earth

Ensuring a resilient Delta Region by training a skilled workforce

Driving toward success in Alabama's Black Belt

Arkansas's Big River Steel has found its home in the heart of America's Delta Region

Building a healthy economy and a healthy workforce in Illinois

Innovation and collaboration are building a Work Ready Kentucky

Louisiana's industry off to a fast start

Perfected in Mississippi

Certifying Southeast Missouri and beyond

Select Tennessee sites offer competitive edge

Reshoring and its potential effect on the Mississippi River Delta region

  
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Georgia Reaches out to Entrepreneurs

When it comes to nurturing small businesses, Georgia "gets it."

Scott Rudd and Joey Johnson (l-r) of J&S Produce benfited from Georgia's Enterpreneur Friendly (EF) Program, which launched in 2004. The program is benefiting many of the state's rural communities.In 2004, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, a small business owner himself, helped launch the Entrepreneur Friendly program. Hosted by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), it helps Georgia communities foster their existing small businesses and potential startups.

"The economic activity created by small businesses and entrepreneurs brings prosperity and opportunity to every part of Georgia," Governor Perdue said. "By championing these businesses, we are investing in a stronger future for communities throughout the state."

The Entrepreneur Friendly program, which is now in Phase II, designated 129 of Georgia’s 159 counties. Each community—represented by a locally formed committee— worked with GDEcD Small Business & Innovation regional project managers to develop customized strategies to support small businesses and entrepreneurs. They also underwent a review by a team of economic development professionals in their region. For a list of Entrepreneur Friendly communities and the support programs they developed, visit http://www.georgia.org/Business/Entrepreneur+Friendly+Communities.htm.

The results speak for themselves. In September 2008, Georgia was ranked third in the nation on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America. The state has also garnered top rankings in entrepreneurship by the Kaufman Foundation, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation as well as non-employer business growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. Georgia’s overall business climate has also improved—in 2008 it jumped from No. 15 to No. 5 on Forbes’ Best States for Business list.

GDEcD’s 10 Small Business & Innovation regional project managers, who work with communities and companies around the state, have also noticed a change. In one year, the conversion of project announcements to new jobs and investment growth has increased from 29 percent (fiscal year 2007) to 68 percent (fiscal year 2008).
  
Athens, Ga. small business Fire & Flavor Grilling is just one example of a company that has benefited from the entrepreneur-centric environment. The company, which provides products for at-home cooks including cedar grill planks, was founded by Gena and Davis Knox in 2003. In 2005, regional project manager Ryan Thornton identified Fire & Flavor as a high growth company and sought to help it grow efficiently and effectively.

"A big asset to doing business in Georgia is its many educational institutions and the talent that stems from them," Thornton said. "I introduced the Knoxes to the Georgia Tech Innovation Institute, which helped Fire & Flavor with their warehouse layout and racking." Thornton also provided market data and research to assist Fire & Flavor.

"Through the state, we were able to get connected to local resources and expertise that enhanced our marketing and operations," said Davis Knox, chief financial officer of Fire & Flavor Grilling Company.

The results? In 2008, Fire & Flavor was named No. 8 on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America – Food & Beverage category. The company has emerged from its humble garage origins to occupy a 40,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility with 17 employees.

Georgia’s communities have embraced the Entrepreneur Friendly program, which continues to support companies in those communities. It’s no surprise in a state that counts more than 95 percent of its businesses as having fewer than 20 employees.

"One cannot overlook the importance of small business in today’s economy," said Perry Swanson, president and CEO of the Peach County Chamber of Commerce. "Large industry can create a large amount of jobs and be a staple of the community, but it is small businesses that define the culture of a region; the flavor of a community. A large number of small businesses in a concentrated area help diversify the investment in a local economy. Only with that investment can a community hope to survive the many different economic trends occurring over time."

 

    
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Steering the Automotive Industry to the World's Fourth-Largest Economy

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