Economic Development

[ Print Version of All Economic Development Recommendations ]

  1. Athens-Clarke County should partner with other area counties to create a regional economic development entity responsible for proactively marketing the region to prospects interested in establishing new operations in the region. Read more...
  2. Develop adequate strategies and funding alternatives to encourage retention and expansion of existing businesses. Read more...

    Action steps:

    • Survey existing businesses to determine gaps in desired services and barriers (real and perceived) to expansion. Utilize the resources of SBDC and EDF for existing information.
    • Establish a council group (such as a coalition of area Chambers of Commerce) to meet regularly and work cooperatively to develop programs to nurture existing businesses. Athens Area Chamber of Commerce should take the lead in organizing this council.
    • Establish a function in Athens-Clarke County government to serve as a central resource for new businesses startups and expansions. This entity would provide information and technical assistance for issues such as permitting, licensing, process, etc.
    • Develop and execute a formal program for community leaders to make in-person visits to corporate offices of every major business or industry in ACC, inviting them to expand their operations.
    • Explore possibilities of new business capital through "bond funds" or "investors clubs."
    • Widely publicize the removal of barriers to new business expansion or creation.
    • Encourage ACC citizens to support the local economy through "buying local."
    • Enhance recognition programs for ACC businesses through the media and existing organizations.

Related recommendations from other working sessions/website:

  1. Pursue Passenger Rail (Brain Train) between Athens and Atlanta as an economic opportunity for Athens. Read more...
  2. When seeking new businesses for the community, attend to the impact of the business on quality of life. Target recruitment efforts for "desirable businesses." Read more...


[ Print Version of All Entrepreneurship Recommendations ]


  1. To foster a culture of entrepreneurialism, Athens must support training programs for low-income adults and remove barriers to growth for start-ups and existing small businesses in Athens-Clarke County. Entrepreneurs and low-income Athenians who do not know that they could become entrepreneurs need out-reach, on-going business support/training, and access to capital. The committee recognizes that many potential entrepreneurs are not able to be successful- due to a lack of time, capital, belief-in-self, English language skills, computer training, or literacy- to access current resources. The committee recognizes that many entrepreneurs who have already begun their businesses fail due to a similar set of problems (e.g. lack of capital) that commonly affect small businesses. We understand that there are multiple ways for Athens policy to support small businesses through zoning, taxes, and permitting. The committee recognizes that there are several organizations (e.g., EADC, Goodwill Industries, SBDC) which have undertaken foundational work on these needs by providing business training, access to capital, and technical assistance. The Committee recommends:
    1. Increased funding for existing services including business development consultants, local training programs, and pools of capital.
    2. Identify and Fund gaps in services including small business incubators, Bilingual Business Development Consultants, Fast-track Engagement Program for potential entrepreneurs, a SWAT Team/Business Mentoring Program, Access to Capital/Community Investing, Small Business support through Zoning/Taxing/Permitting Changes, and acquiring the Business Friendly Designation


  2. Market small business development services and news to raise awareness about Entrepreneur resources and opportunities in Athens using the following strategies:
    1. House, at the Chamber of Commerce and on the Chamber's website, a One-stop-shop and Database of business opportunities, local products, etc. for local businesses to use to network and grow - Could be administered through the Chamber (J House Media made Chamber website)
    2. Daily Business Section in ABH with a Q&A column
    3. "211" Information phone line for businesses - under Community Connections, EADC or SBDC
    4. Monthly newsletter - part of the ABH business section OR distributed in Athens (i.e. Flagpole) OR electronic (see Appalachian Community Enterprises, Inc.); Featured Business of the Month, new business listings, business tips
    5. Bi-lingual translator/consultant in association with UGA, Catholic Social Services
    6. Market services of SBDC, EADC, Goodwill Industries, and HED's Athens Growth Fund
    7. Buy Local Campaign: Flagpole currently published annual "Guide to Athens" with local restaurants and other retailers listed. A local retailers guide with such info as part of a Buy Local Campaign could support local businesses
    8. Marketing to low-to-moderate income individuals
    9. Increase social services to improve skills among low-to-moderate income individuals (computer literacy, job skills, business skills)
    10. Job Fairs - incorporate small business marketing at job fairs
    11. Peer Network for Business Competency (sales/marketing, finance, human resources/training, management, technology)


  3. Create a program to teach entrepreneurialism and build hope at each level of the youth educational system.
    1. Build on/expand existing programs through the Chamber of Commerce, School District's Career Technical Agricultural Education Department, Georgia REAL (Paul Delargi- at Timothy Road and PLC's Jittery Joe's), Department of Labor's Workforce Investment Board, SBDC, UGA Terry College of Business (students worked on Jittery Joe's), Junior Achievement, etc.
    2. Create new programs utilizing:
      1. Certified Entrepreneurship Teachers program through the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship
      2. A K-5 integrated financial literacy program- Replicate Georgia REAL Program, Use the Lemonade Stand competition (like Inc. Magazine)
      3. Hold a Business Proposal Fair like a Science Fair, offer apprenticeships with local businesses for Middle Schoolers
      4. Have High School students go through the SBDC course for class credit, continue the Business Proposal Fair
      5. Create a Super Summer Program- where youth shadow a local business person for the summer, Expand capacity of EADC's Allen Executive Youth Entrepreneurship camp (first summer 2007)



  4. Develop a youth leadership program, "Partners Building Leadership to Create Legacies," in order to develop strong leadership skills and to help follow-up on youth-centered PPA recommendations. The purpose of this program would be to develop a community-wide youth leadership program to help maintain youth and student involvement in the short-term and long term implementation of the PPA recommendations.


  5. Create a program that fosters entrepreneurship and small business around farming in Athens. If implemented creatively and persistently a local gardening and farming initiative could incorporate and address most of the components leading to persistent poverty that we have identified so far. Key features of this program would include:
    1. Farmer's Markets
      1. In accessible locations as determined by the results of a comprehensive food assessment such as has been proposed by the Culture of Poverty sub-committee.
      2. Able to accept Food Stamps
      3. Used as a center of community activity to increase a sense of community ownership over the market
      4. Used to create networks through the exchange of goods and ideas
      5. Have an educational component- regular programming could occur during market times educating people (of all ages and backgrounds) on how to prepare and plan meals inexpensively and that are healthier. Groups like La Leche could mentor mothers and assist them with diet and nutrition issues.


    2. Fostering a Culture of Entrepreneurialism via Farming:
      1. Develop programming for youth in schools like Garden-to-table projects
      2. Facilitate access to resources that allow people to process and package value-added products from their or their neighbor's produce- certified kitchens, community owned packaging facility, etc.
      3. Include programming on entrepreneurial resources and opportunities in farmer's market and community gardening activities.
      4. Incorporate youth leadership program into farming program


    3. Community-wide Reinforcement:
      1. Businesses, churches, and other organizations can synergistically reinforce the above objectives, thereby increasing their rate of success.
      2. Barriers to growth for start-ups and existing small businesses in Athens-Clarke County must be removed.


    4. Build on existing resources/strengths including:
      1. Goodwill Industries - many graduates of their Hispanic Entrepreneurship classes are interested in farming.Many Hispanic people have some kind of horticultural experience.
      2. There are a lot of resources and institutions present in the county that can provide advice and facilitate projects (UGA, Local Food Banks, Locally Grown, Full Moon Farm Cooperative, Cooperative extension, Daily Grocery, Tim Johnson with Communities in Schools/Family Connection.)
      3. Local Food and organic farming is a growth market.
      4. ACC School District just adopted a new Food Policy.
      5. There are currently foundations seeking to fund these kinds of initiatives


Living Wage

[ Print Version of All Living Wage Recommendations ]

  1. Regarding the University of Georgia, we recommend that (a) $11.55 be promoted at UGA as the minimum wage, resulting in an annual income of $24,000. We also recommend that (b) auxiliary services which maintain full time and year-round workers should not treat them as "temporary" workers, but as "regular payroll" people with full benefits. Data are needed on the number of full time workers classified as "temporary." We recommend that (c) health benefits be made affordable to the lowest paid employees in the university and that (d) those who are truly "temporary" employees be paid at a minimum of $14 per hour, so that they are able to afford health care. At the same time, (e) employees classified as temporary should receive social security benefits, not the GDCP funds which takes money from the workers, but to which the University does not contribute. This may require a change in state law. Meanwhile, when workers leave, they should routinely be notified of their right to request their GDCP funds. Finally, we propose that (f) the University avoid outsourcing any routine jobs to contracted companies. Read more...
  2. Regarding the Chamber of Commerce, we recommend that the Chamber a) educate its membership, large and small businesses, on the advantages of respectful wages and benefits--advantages to the business, to the family, and to the community at large; b) ask their member businesses to give preference to participants in the workforce committee's programs when respectable jobs at the blue collar level become available; c) work on training business leaders, especially small business leaders, in their styles of management regarding employee sustainability; and d) offer technical assistance in growing and streamlining a business so that it can pay living wages and put into place "Worker Friendly" policies and procedures. A key factor in worker anxiety is job security. A key factor in management relates to the various ways of expressing respect for their workers. Read more...
  3. Given that the State Preemption Law prohibits local governments from enacting any policy that affects wages or benefits of contracted workers, we recommend that the Clarke County Government terminate the contracts and bring the employees back into the county payroll. They could then be paid respectful wages and benefits, as are other employees in the county government. Read more...
  4. Additional institutions should be encouraged to raise their wages and benefits. These institutions include, but are not limited to: the local hospitals, the Board of Education, social agencies, churches, and the Regional Library. Read more...
  5. Regarding the state minimum wage of $5.15, we propose that the PPA conveners and steering committee add their voices to the members of the legislature who might consider raising that level. Each of the partners in the PPA can be advocates for a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or more, as proposed by Senator Brown and Rep. McKillip. Read more...
  6. We propose that a positive, consumer-minded assessment be made for those businesses that are willing to present themselves as Worker Friendly and Fair Wage businesses. Criteria will be established, and the higher scoring businesses will then be advertised, so that consumers and workers can be encouraged to give favor to those businesses. This will be an entirely voluntary program. Read more...

Culture of Poverty

[ Print Version of All Culture of Poverty Recommendations ]

  1. Conduct systematic community food assessments, develop food policy, establish better grocery markets that are within walking distance of key low income areas, set up ability to use food stamps in farmers market, conduct cooking demonstrations at market, develop community gardens, etc. Read more...
  2. Cultivate entrepreneurs and subsidize them with low interest loans to build and operate neighborhood markets that serve low-income areas. Read more...
  3. To reduce the high drop out rate, utilize the new Graduation Coaches to encourage trend setters to serve as mentors to other kids for positive change. Read more...
  4. Establish a mentoring program for families in poverty. Read more...
  5. Have community based assistance that augments the Department of Children and Family Services, etc. Case loads for social workers need to be smaller, mental health issues need to be better identified and understood by caseworkers. Read more...