Skip to main content

CREATE Program

Cultivating Rural Entrepreneurs and Transforming Economies

As our rural communities prepare to embrace the future – globalization, automation, and innovation – we must consider a comprehensive and inclusive growth approach that extends beyond industrial recruitment. That’s why we are launching the CREATE program, a two-year cohort program focused on "Cultivating Rural Entrepreneurs And Transforming Economies."

CREATE  name and georgia power logo

Program Overview

The CREATE program is designed to help leaders in rural communities implement entrepreneurship and small business growth plans. A rural community is defined as a county with 50,000 residents or fewer.

Participating communities receive the technical assistance and guidance to accomplish the following:

  • Identify the assets and gaps of your community’s entrepreneurial/small business support system, including potential areas for investment.
  • Understand the importance of a healthy entrepreneurial/small business support system to your local and regional economy and how these types of businesses can support long-term community and economic development goals (e.g., vibrant downtown, talent retention/attraction).
  • Identify potential partners, resources, and funding sources to support project implementation.
  • Learn about best practices related to entrepreneurial/small business support systems in other rural communities.
  • Elevate the voices of existing entrepreneurs and small business owners.

These efforts will culminate in the creation and implementation of a targeted growth strategy and plan for your local and regional economy, providing definitive next steps for supporting and attracting entrepreneurs and small businesses to your community.

2024 CREATE Program Dates and Events

Rural communities selected will be invited to the Georgia Experience Center (GEC) in Atlanta. The program will consist of two days of intensive training on Wednesday, August 14th and Thursday, August 15th.

  • Day 1: Introduction to entrepreneurship ecosystems, community audits, and strategy development.
  • Day 2: Meet resource partners to help the different groups of entrepreneurs (rural, minority/Grow Georgia, ag-based, main street/ downtown, invite successful CREATE program leaders to share lessons learned, etc.).

As can be scheduled in the fall, each CREATE community will receive a follow-up visit to hear presentations from the individual community on their next steps to develop and implement their entrepreneurial ecosystem. Team Panel will be made up of: Regional Economic Development Team, Georgia Power Area Manager, Georgia Power Economic Development Marketing Team, and other community stakeholders, i.e. Technical College President.

Participation & Team Composition

Participating communities are expected to identify 5 to 6 champions to participate in the program alongside the team leader(s). In-person participation of all team members at program session is required.

Champions included local government leaders, regional partners, and community and economic development leaders (e.g., representatives from chambers of commerce, development authorities, and main street organizations). Additionally, selected champions had the knowledge of diverse areas relevant to entrepreneurs and small businesses, such as finance, real estate, legal/regulatory affairs, marketing, expansion/market entry, and product licensing.

At least one participant had to be an entrepreneur or small-business owner, acknowledging that those individuals may not have been available to attend all in-person sessions.

Selection Criteria

Several key criteria are deemed imperative to spurring positive impact, specifically the successful implementation of the foundational pillars associated with entrepreneurial/small business support systems.

  • Community Readiness: Demonstration of community motivation to fully participate in the program sessions, regularly convene with community champions and subject matter experts, and affect positive change through strategy implementation.
  • Community Champions: Participation commitment of 5 to 6 community champions knowledgeable of local entrepreneurial and small-business resources and needs.
  • Community Evidence: The community should be able to demonstrate existing evidence or strong interest in assisting entrepreneurs and developing their own community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  • Sustainability: Ability for the local community to implement identified strategies and sustain investment in impactful programming opportunities beneficial to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
  • Georgia Power Franchised Community: Only Georgia Power Franchised communities can be nominated and selected for the CREATE program. Don’t know if you’re a Georgia Power franchise city? Click here to find and contact your regional economic development manager.

Questions or Apply

Questions about CREATE or the application can be submitted to Scott Purvis ( and Vanessa Wagner (