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Local economic development stakeholders explore business retention and expansion

The Cobb County Economic Development Division, SelectCobb, and representatives from the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Metro Atlanta Chamber, WorkSource Cobb, KSU’s Small Business Development Center, cities of Acworth and Kennesaw, and Georgia Power participated in the bi-annual Business Walks Program, an initiative dedicated to collecting feedback on business retention and expansion in Cobb’s business community, on Wednesday, October 9, 2019. “This is about developing partnerships … I’m excited to learn about these partnerships and how we can help strengthen them,” said Keli Gambrill, District 1 Commissioner.

Business Walks, an innovative business retention and expansion program, allows economic development groups to visit up to four businesses a day per team, covering more ground than traditional retention and expansion programs. Leveraging one-on-one interviews and facility tours, teams gather feedback from companies on key matters, such as community engagement and services, opportunity for growth, workforce needs and current challenges. The teams also use surveys with predetermined questions to quickly diagnose firms on the brink of greatness or those at risk, increase awareness of programs and services offered by local and county organizations, and identify those businesses that may require further assistance. For business owners and operators, meeting with community leadership and development groups allows their voices to be heard and ensures a prosperous business climate for the future.

Business Walks participants visited businesses in the cities of Acworth and Kennesaw, as well as the Acworth Due West and Barrett Parkway Corridors. Reunited, the teams discussed their findings and worked together to address any pressing matters.

The coordinating committee began its efforts in South Cobb, expanding to the current Business Walks in West Cobb. The Cobb County Economic Development Division in partnership with SelectCobb plans to continue the expansion of this program into North and East Cobb in 2020.