Entrepreneurship is a Priority

The Golden Isles Development Authority is focused on increasing hope, wealth, and wellbeing for all residents in the Golden Isles by promoting and supporting entrepreneurship.

By Vanessa Wagner, Director of Business Development and Strategic Programs

Every day our lives are enhanced by small businesses. When sitting down to write this and articulate the value entrepreneurs provide, I began to consider what I love about living in The Golden Isles. One of the things I love the most is hanging at the beach with a good cup of coffee and my dog.  

The beach hangs that I have come to cherish are more satisfying because of our small businesses. 

My dog and I are out the door in seconds because of her EZYDog harness, which looks new despite being dragged through saltwater daily. This incredible gear was recommended by and purchased from the owner of Island Dog. Great coffee essential is my experience, and Wake-Up is on the way to pour my favorite brews. I can usually pick up a local magazine to read on the beach, like Coastal Illustrated or Island Living at Wake Up too. Lately, a growing surf community has been flocking to Gould’s Inlet in part to sml surf co. and the owner Geoffrey’s dedication to sharing the sport with everyone possible. Sitting on the beach with my dog, coffee in hand, reading local stories, and watching the surfers- this is my typical Saturday morning, and I am filled with gratitude for it.

Sure, a walk on the beach is good without all of those things; but it’s hard to look past Golden Isles business owners’ influence on making that time so special to not just me, but other residents and visitors.

Wake up coffee on St Simons Island Georgia

Photo from https://wakeupcoffeeco.com/

As demonstrated from my simple beach walk, the Golden Isles is a vibrant entrepreneurial community. It comprises small business owners, creatives, sole proprietors, startups, and others seeking to develop and grow their businesses. These entrepreneurs span the entire economy and represent a key asset to locally-driven economic growth and employment. 

Small businesses also employ the majority of workers in the community, with fifty-four percent of workers in Glynn County work at firms that meet the Small Business Administration’s definition of small businesses (1).

The critical role small business plays attracting, retaining and growing talent was emphasized in the Talent Development Strategy for the Golden Isles 2021-2025. The strategy, researched and produced by The Carl Vinson Institute of Government, listed developing and supporting entrepreneurs in the Golden Isles as one of four priorities for talent development.

In addition to talent development, entrepreneur-focused efforts are an essential economic development practice. This past month the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the largest membership and certifying organization for economic development professionals, announced a new Entrepreneurship Development Professional (EDP) certification. IEDC’s announcement signals to all economic developers and their communities the importance of entrepreneurship in growing local economies.

The Golden Isles Development Authority has supported entrepreneurs through Share the Future, 1 Million Cups-Brunswick, and others. This year, GIDA’s board has added Entrepreneurship as a focus area for staff. As a focus area, entrepreneurship has distinct objectives and results that GIDA staff will measure and report to the community. These goals include launching a mentor program, increasing outreach to entrepreneurs, and creating tools for residents to access information and resources easily.  

The focus area was shared last month, and work is underway to reach those goals, but more importantly, enhance the opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow in the Golden Isles. 

To learn more about the resources available today, click here The resources were recently updated to include the new American Rescue Plan: Small Business Recovery Grant Application managed by Glynn County. Through the Finance Department, the Glynn County Board of Commissioners is offering a one-time grant opportunity of up to $10,000 in grants via the American Rescue Plan funds to assist the local small business community from adverse impacts from the Coronavirus.

We are also excited to be working with The Melanin Makers’ Market to host an event this November during Global Entrepreneurship Week. The “Maker to Maker” event will help artisan entrepreneurs learn from one another and network to build and strengthen their community of support. Click here to learn more and register.

As the staff liaison for entrepreneurship at GIDA, I am thrilled to share news of our focus on entrepreneurship. As a resident of the Golden Isles, I am delighted to see our community’s investment in supporting the businesses that enhance my life daily.

Reach out to talk with me about entrepreneurship and small business resources in The Golden Isles. I’m excited to learn more bout your business and how our community can support your entrepreneurial journey.


1. US Census Bureau, Statistics of US Businesses, 2016

2021-10-15T11:41:19-05:00October 12th, 2021|