The 2022-2023 CREATE Cohort Come Together in Rome.
Through CREATE (Cultivating Rural Entrepreneurs and Transforming Economies) and other rural initiatives, Georgia Power Community & Economic Development helps rural and small towns across Georgia plan for sustainable growth. Scott Purvis, Community Manager, South Region, has been working with local communities for over thirty years and understands their challenges and opportunities,
“Rural Georgia towns have a lot of assets that make them attractive to entrepreneurs and startups. One of the goals of the CREATE program is to help those communities catalog their assets and use them as a catalyst for growth.”
The inaugural CREATE session was held in Athens in May 2022, with leaders from Baldwin, Bleckley, Hart, Pickens, Polk, and Toombs County. The program’s recent fall session in Rome, Georgia, focused on helping our six communities develop their Entrepreneurship Strategic Plan.
CREATE Cohort Updates
CREATE's program partners, Matt Wagner and Bethany Rogers with MainStreet America, led and facilitated. The program also included a visit from Paula Englis & Ivanna Lajara from Berry College. They shared information about the college’s new Entrepreneurship Program, initiatives, and exciting student businesses that have already resulted from their efforts. After a lively business start-up idea competition in the room (led by Paula & Ivanna), the team departed for a late afternoon tour of the downtown.
The City of Rome’s Downtown Development Director, Aundi Lesley, took the program's cohort on a beautiful entrepreneurship walking tour. Our first stop was Trendy Teachers, a business focused on educational toys. Jamie Baker’s teacher store was born in the pandemic and has been a glowing success, expanding into a space three times larger just across the street.
The next stop was Tay Coley’s The Early Way on Broad. His shoe store is trying to increase foot traffic in the downtown area to bring community members together, - and not just over a love of shoes. His business is also an event space, including a DJ booth and an elevated bar above the shopping level.
Our final stop of the tour was The Rome Collective. This incredible old building is revitalizing to become Rome’s entrepreneurship incubator space.
Our walk circled us back to Aventine Rome for an evening of networking and dinner. Located in the River Arts District, this farm-to-table restaurant collaborates with restauranteur Kevin Dillon, Chef Adam Ohara, and Pastry Chef Megan Ware. This adaptive reuse project is a stunning example of the gems you can find in your community.
The following morning, our communities each received $5,000 seed capital to kick-start their implementation efforts. Stay posted for future CREATE Cohort and community updates!