The Union Recorder

September 19, 2012

Business incubator provides chance for county to shine


The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — For nearly three years, the Shaw building sat idle and unused. A relic of the past, the former carpet and flooring facility served as a reminder of Milledgeville’s pre-recession past. In the coming months, however, a new plan for the facility aims to breathe new life into the south side of town and has the potential for ancillary impact.

Shaw Industries Group Inc. recently donated its 93,000 square-foot warehouse to the city of Milledgeville to be used as a business incubator for entrepreneurs. The recent acquisition paves the way for a business incubator facility that has the potential to provide space and access for local small business developments and quite possibly new ideas and businesses to relocate to the area.

Plans are for the space to be utilized by about 20 to 25 entrepreneurs and business start ups to jump start their business models once the facility opens in two to three months’ time.

This is also an opportunity to seize upon a growing concept and new business identity. According to the United States Census, about three quarters of all U.S. business firms have no payroll.  More than half of all businesses, based on a census business owners’ survey, operated primarily from someone's home in 2007, and even more do so today. Many of these business owners are also young and college-educated, like those who graduate each year from Milledgeville’s three college campuses. One in 10 businesses (10.4 percent) was started or acquired by owners who used a credit card to finance the start-up or acquisition of their business — a segment of the population that could use the type of space and access the new business incubator plan can provide to see their business dream come to fruition.

As plans for the revamped Central State Hospital property continue to move forward, having this business incubator facility nearby is a continued nod to growth and redevelopment on a side of town in a portion of the county that has seen opportunities dwindle in recent years. As the CSH plans and the plans for the business incubator take shape, it is also more likely that other new industries will take notice, opening the door for job opportunities.

In many ways, as the dreams and ambitions of these business start-up owners go, so too does the potential for business growth in all of Baldwin County. The business incubator model can serve as a link to the community’s growth for years to come. It provides a light and an opportunity for new small businesses, ambitious recent graduates, start-ups and Baldwin County to shine.