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GA's entrepreneur friendly

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July 6, 2007

Valdosta - Small Businesses make up 95% of Georgia's companies, and the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce was the first to initiate a program that made establishing small businesses in the community affordable and easy.

That program has now been embraced all over the state and the governors office predicts it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout Georgia.

It's called the Entrepreneur Friendly program.  It began in Lowndes County and is now being implemented all over the state.  "We target small businesses and entrepreneurs in Lowndes County and our region to promote growth in our area," says Tara Nichols, the Business Development Coordinator for the Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber of Commerce.

And it's helped entrepreneurs like Anne Barnas make her dream of owning her own business a reality.  "We started talking more about going out on our own and realizing different visions and structuring our own techniques and philosophies."

Her HR firm SmithBarnas and Associates is now open in downtown Valdosta.  "We wouldn't be able to do it without the help of the Chamber and small business center.  The marketing information from the SEED Center was invaluable."

Hers is one of 45 small businesses who opened with the assistance of the program, and since 2004 it's created 100 new jobs.  Over the next five years the chamber hopes to work with 2500 entrepreneurs, open the doors to 200 new businesses and create 1000 new jobs in the community.

Businesses they hope will thrive like the cities newest.  "It's been amazing.  We control our own destiny and we are on plan," Barnas says.

This program is has now been adopted by 50 counties including Ware, Berrien and Sumter and the state hopes even more will soon jump on board.

DeKalb County was the latest to adopt the program and they estimate it will help them grow 100,000 new jobs in the next two years.

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