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The CREATE Cohort is Springing into Action!

Macon, GA hosted the spring session of our C.R.E.A.T.E. Program

CREATE-ing opportunities for rural entrepreneurs

Macon GA Sports Hall of Fame

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.

Our 2022-2023 inaugural CREATE Cohort is made up of six communities: Baldwin, Bleckley, Hart, Pickens, Polk, and Toombs County. The program’s recent spring session at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame (directly across the street from last month's Tyler Perry exhibit event at the Tubman Museum) in Macon, Georgia, gave us the opportunity to see where each community is at in terms of implementing their Entrepreneurship Strategic Plan. Now in their second-year, things are off to a great start!

CREATE Cohort Highlights

Then came our amazing panel, assembled by Jessica Walden, President, and CEO of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce. As a small business owner herself, entrepreneurship is a topic close to Jessica’s heart! The panel focused on resources for entrepreneurs, approaches that have been successful in Macon, and a big focus on the Why? "My Why? I love my community!", exclaimed Charise Stephens-Merriweather, Director of the Macon-Bibb Office of Small Business Affairs.

The panel overwhelmingly agreed that each community could benefit from listening more and bringing more people to the table. Jessica and Charise were joined by: Richardo Cordew, community Business Consultant at NewTown Macon; Lynn Murphey, Program Director for the Knight Foundation; Andrew Eck, Community Navigator for Startup-Macon; Matt McKenna, Volunteer Chairman of SCORE Middle Georgia; and Lisa Rackley, Area Director of the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center in Macon.

Following the panel, Vice President for Community Development of NewTown Macon, Lauren Marshall, took the program's cohort on a walking tour of downtown to visit some entrepreneurship success stories in the area. Our first stop was JBA, music venue and bar with three separate themed areas for different customer experiences. JBA was able to leverage several community resources, including historic tax credits to revitalize their building. We then stopped by Third Street Park before visiting the very close Macon co-working space, The Office. Jave Bjorkman, a success story out of the co-working space, was able to show us his new site, Third Street Studio, that has a soft opening next week! The studio is the first in middle Georgia to have a cyclorama for filming (cyc wall or infinity wall). The space can do anything from corporate headshots to commercials for your business to filming your own show!

Next Steps

Stay tuned for our final updates from these six communities this fall.

CREATE is just one of the ways that our team supports community growth. Explore our services or contact your regional community manager to learn more.