ELLIJAY, Ga. – New life is springing from an older foundation in Gilmer County this week with the CORE Facility on River Terrace, just off of Maddox Drive.
Called the CORE (Collaboration on River’s Edge), the facility will host business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment. Created by the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, Kent Sanford Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA (Joint Development Authority) and member of the Greater Gilmer Foundation, tells FYN the idea began with a visit to Carrollton, Georgia. Inspecting a business incubation center there, he began dwelling on the idea.
However, concerns about the project’s feasibility in Ellijay stalled the idea and the plans never saw action. Seven years have passed since the idea began at Carrollton and the Greater Gilmer Foundation was created. Now, as Sanford noticed the building for sale on River Terrace, the owner, Edgar Land, originally wanted to sell the place. Kent says negotiations allowed them to lease-purchase the building and begin renovations to revolutionize the early life of small businesses in our area. Sanford went on to say the just like in fitness when they say strength comes from your core, “CORE will be where the future strength of Gilmer County comes from.”
While the facility will host 13 offices and 2 conference rooms during its launch by the end of the first quarter in 2019, Sanford says the facility will be both an incubator for new businesses and a co-working space for small businesses.
As an incubator, CORE stands to be a resource center for new businesses. As they take up residence in an office, they will grow and learn through cooperation with the foundation and educational sessions the CORE facility puts on. Additionally, the future plans of the CORE facility would also provide for business mentors to advise these start-ups on everything from day-to-day operations to faculty to financial decisions.
Sanford went on to say, “Not only are incubated businesses about twice as successful as ones that don’t have that mentoring help, but you also have about 80% of all businesses that start in a community stay in that community.”
As a co-working space, CORE will provide an office to a small business that may not need much space, but does need something like access to better internet than they may have at home. With utilities and furnishings provided by the CORE facility, this could give small businesses access to larger benefits to better present themselves to clients. With conference rooms and special areas available for scheduling, it also provides the amenities of a large office to be shared among those in office.
The amenities would not just be for those residing in the office spaces, though. Sanford says they are looking at a membership idea for other businesses with their own small offices that may still be in need of space temporarily for training seminars or business conferences. Looking past the businesses, Sanford said that other things like civic clubs and organizations could also find a use for the spaces.
The idea flows that as new and old businesses alike start to grow in the CORE facility, they would reach a point and need for larger space, as the move to other larger locations, the offices open up to other new businesses.
Additionally, Sanford says he hopes to see a variety of businesses utilizing the space to grow so that they benefit each other. For example, one Accountant next to a web designer could share services providing financial services o the web designer and a website for the accountant. In this way, the community feeds itself and strengthens each while maintaining close proximity for convenience.
Sanford also noted that the resource center was not just for Gilmer County businesses. He wants CORE to become a Regional Resource for Fannin, Pickens, and Gilmer for those who need only to drive a short time to take advantage of the CORE facility.
Working on their fundraiser right now, the Foundation hopes to see three phases of the CORE facility.
In Phase I, the renovations will complete with the fundraising and open to the public by the end of the first quarter in 2019.
In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger open space for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.
In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to finalized, but Sanford said the general idea is to grow into partners in education in the county.
As a part of the connection for education and incubation for new businesses, Sanford says he hopes the facility will ultimately have a real impact on the growing trend of educated students leaving the community for careers elsewhere.
As it is still in the fundraising stage, plans for the facility could shift, but Sanford states he already has people looking to rent space in the building.
For more information on the campaign and growing the CORE Facility, contact the Greater Gilmer Foundation at 706-635-2673 or check out the Greater Gilmer website.
Gilmer recently became host to seven representatives from the Republic of Georgia as they visited our state to study and learn agriculture and entrepreneurship from our local businesses.
The delegates met at the Bank of the Ozarks at Highland Crossing to begin their day as they have traveled to several counties in Georgia, and spent an entire day in Gilmer County. Dedicating two hours before noon, the representatives Nana Bagalishvili, Ketino Khvedelidze, Shalva Lagadze, Mindia Kavtaradze, Tinatin Gholadze, Nini Panjikidze, and Ketevan (Kety) Gviniashvili-Reaves met with County Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Chairman of the Joint Development Authority and Post Commissioner Travis Crouch, Post Commissioner Dallas Miller, and Executive Director Debbie Sadler.
The Open World Leader Center (OWLC) administers the Open World Program as an independent government agency of the United States Congress and is in the Legislative Branch.
The Open World program builds the groundwork for enduring cooperation by bringing emerging government and civic leaders to the United States to work with their American counterparts and facilitates continued relations. They have hosted more than 24,000 leaders in all 50 states since 1999.
According to Sadler,
The Mission of the OWLC is to introduce rising leaders of emerging countries to the importance of legislative functions in creating and sustaining democracies. This is done through the introduction of young foreign leaders to the American democratic governing systems and free market operations at every level: federal, state, and local. The Center also maintains a continuing relationship with the network of leaders it has enlisted, especially with those from countries critical to American national security interests.
As they met with our local leaders, Chairman Crouch began the meeting formally welcoming the visitors to our county and extending our great pleasure to host them for this trip. Telling the delegates a little about Gilmer County, Crouch compared one of Georgia’s highest mountains, Shkhara, standing at 17,000 feet to our local mountains closer to 4,000 feet.
Chairman Paris spoke next, introducing our visitors to Gilmer County’s different types of agriculture, business, and industry. He walked them through Gilmer’s poultry going from the farms to the local processing plant as well as our growing grape industry and vineyards. Discussion continued in detail to explain how these industries are affecting Gilmer’s Agri-Tourism as well as the Apple Festival in October.
Questioning the way we advertise and promote the “Agri-Tourism” concept, the discussion continued as our visitors began thinking of how to incorporate these ideas and take them home to the Republic of Georgia. The delegates began asking if they could be invited back to our county in order to see the festival as well as opportunities to send workers here to work in our orchards and local farms to learn and see some of the farming technology they do not have access to at home.
As the meeting continued, two delegates offered thanks by offering gifts to Chairman Paris including Mindia Kavtaradze giving him one of his jars of honey from his homeland as Kavtaradze owns one of the largest Bee farms in the country “hosting 1,500 Bee Families.” Paris also was given a postcard from the delegates depicting the Village of Shovi and Barakoni Church.
After their meeting and a following Lunch at the Davis House, the delegates toured the Water Vendors By Us on Progress Road and stopped into R&A Orchards before ending their day at Cartecay Vineyards on Clear Creek Road. Each stop allowed the delegates to look closer into our county’s industry, but also to ask questions and dig deeper into the entrepreneurs who have built these businesses.
At Cartecay, the delegation sat down to a wine tasting comparing Gilmer’s wines to some of their own as well as European wines. Each visit became more than just teaching the delegates from Georgia, however. Speaking back and forth, they became very open and shared their own ideas and techniques with their hosts. Kavtaradze applauded Gilmer saying he could not imagine a country more hospitable than his own, but being in Gilmer exceeded his expectations saying, “I think these two Georgia’s are actually a part of one heart.”