New Lee Co. store helps employ people with disabilities
LEESBURG, Ga. (WALB) - Lee County has a new business on the block. It’s called Zak’s French Market and Consignment right in downtown Leesburg. Not only is it helping with economic development, but it’s opening opportunities for those who can be forgotten.
Sheri Barlow is not only the owner of the store, but she’s also the chief operating officer for Englewood Healthcare. There, she worked with kids and adults with disabilities and noticed many times they were left out of the workforce.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much they want to work. This is the future for the workforce I believe, and it starts right here with us. People have always told them they can’t do this, or they can’t do that or they wouldn’t be successful in jobs. As a special education teacher I know how to prepare them to be successful,” said Barlow.
Lisa Davis with the Chamber of Commerce said not only is this helping support people with disabilities but also helping with downtown development.
“Its huge small business is actually the backbone for most rural communities,” said Davis.
Davis said Downtown Leesburg has become a focus working on a downtown development plan to extend parking and sidewalk making it more accessible.
A building just a few doors down from Zak’s will be the next new business downtown. Davis said they can’t release what type yet, but it will be another business to inspire growth.
″All the schools are located here, but outside of that, there’s not a whole lot of retail and we’re wanting to focus on that and see if we can change that,” said Davis.
Just in the last year, there have been several new developments in Lee County Davis says that growth is going to continue.
“The Highway 82 corridor is really busting,” said Davis.
That’s near Salt Lick Sausage Company, the Oakland community, and Hog N Bones. In that area alone, several new businesses are developing.
Some are Fuzzy’s Tacos, Ace Hardware, a new veterinary office and a credit union. Also, in the last year Woodgrain, one of Lee County’s largest industrial employers, announced their expansion.
“That’s about a 10-million-dollar investment and 150 new jobs which are not only great for lee county but surrounding areas as well,” said Davis.
Davis says some of the elements that make Lee County a destination for development are leadership, law enforcement, roads, and broadband.
“Broadband is now like an essential. It’s like having lights and water so we’re excited to know that will help spark business and bring broadband to 4-thousand homes,” said Davis.
With most of the county’s population near the southern half of Lee County homes are another element that brings investment.
“There’s a lot of rooftops over there. Industries who want to come here, they want to see how many people can be served in a 1-mile radius,” said Davis.
ZAK’s Consignment is having their grand opening on Saturday, June 23 at 10 a.m.
They’re located on 104 Walnut Street North. They’re open Tuesday-Saturday.
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