Empowering Georgia’s Small Businesses: Insights with Allen Fox

Georgia has once again secured its position as the top state for business for the 10th consecutive year, a testament to its robust economic climate and supportive business environment. At the heart of this success are the state’s small businesses, which play a vital role in driving innovation, creating jobs, and fueling economic growth. The Industrial Properties Group team recently had the opportunity to hear a presentation from Allen Fox, Director of Small Business Outreach at the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). We were able to gain valuable insights into the resources and initiatives empowering small businesses across the state.

With over 1.1 million small businesses in Georgia, the small business sector is undeniably a critical economic engine. Allen Fox, whose role was created in 2021 by Governor Kemp, emphasizes the importance of empowering and educating small businesses while encouraging entrepreneurship. His mission revolves around increasing awareness of the vital resources available to Georgia business owners while fostering continued dialogue on small business matters.

“We love the big deals, but we know the backbone of our state is small business,” says Fox. “80% of the work we do is for companies with 50 employees or less. Helping these businesses in Georgia grow and expand and get the resources they need is key to making the state more efficient. Our goal is to deliver information to these businesses about the best resources available that meet their unique needs.”

One of the primary objectives of Fox’s role is to continually identify any and all resources throughout the state. At the top of Fox’s list for all Georgia business owners is the importance of being connected to their GDEcD Regional Project Manager for their district. These regional managers help owners stay connected with GDEcD while also providing access to valuable information on things like tax deductions, hiring, and investing in equipment.

Fox also recommends staying connected with GDEcD for current information and new resources by subscribing to their newsletter.

A specific resource that has been showing great success is the GDEcD’s Center for Innovation, which connects Georgia-based businesses with subject-matter experts and information in sectors like agriculture, technology, industrial, manufacturing, and logistics. “It’s like a mini consulting firm, but this is a free resource for new or expanding businesses who’ve started here or are looking to locate here.”

According to Fox, the top needs he sees for most small businesses are (1) access to capital and (2) identifying new opportunities. “One of the things we’ve seen from Governor Kemp is the inclusion of small businesses in Team Georgia Marketplace, where these smaller organizations can now bid on 20% of state contracts.” In order to do this, businesses need to create a profile, administered by the Department of Administrative Services, and from there they can start to advertise and bid on contracts.

Beyond pointing businesses to resources, Fox’s department helps businesses grow by championing pro-growth policies and providing marketing support to help businesses stay competitive. Fox highlights the importance of outreach efforts in engaging with small businesses across the state.

“One of our biggest successes has been in trying to reach out to every corner of the state,” says Fox. “We’ve been to 200+ communities and chambers across Georgia. Having had those touchpoints has really given us valuable insights. My mission is to get in front of a group any time I can to share what we’re doing, the help we can provide, and to collect new information.”

The GDEcD’s commitment to empowering small businesses and fostering economic development underscores Georgia’s status as a premier destination for business. Through their strategic initiatives and collaborative efforts, small businesses across the state can unlock their full potential and contribute to Georgia’s continued success.

For more information on the resources available to small businesses in Georgia, visit the State of Small Business Resource Page on the GDEcD website.

Compare listings