AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Tamika Jefferson opened the Garden City Grocer in downtown Augusta a year ago.
“In 2021, 2022, the business license office downtown told me they had the most business license applications in their history,” Jefferson said.
She’s one of many entrepreneurs in the Augusta area as Downtown Development Authority leaders said the pandemic brought a significant increase in new businesses.
“During the pandemic, we just saw the entrepreneurial spirit go crazy,” said Margaret Woodward, Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority.
However, keeping a business open isn’t an easy task.
“Most businesses, according to market trends, fail within the first 18 months,” Jefferson said.
Giving new entrepreneurs the resources to succeed is the goal of a new micro-enterprise center coming to the Broad Street corridor in downtown Augusta.
“We’ll see more small businesses blossom and open up on the Broad Street corridor and all over town. We want small businesses to succeed in Augusta,” Woodward said.
Two-point-three million dollars in funding secured by Sen. Raphael Warnock will help to create the center which is a partnership between the Downtown Development Authority and Augusta Tech.
“It will be a space for education. It will be a place for you to start a business. It will be a place for you to come and get the resources you need,” Woodward said.
Some local entrepreneurs said it will mean getting help and resources early, something that could make the difference in a new business staying open.
“If I could have had somebody buffer me in the beginning and show me the way, and show me what resources are available, we could have been where we are 17 years later within 7 to 10 years I believe,” said Bradley Kirkland, CEO of The Graphix Resources.
Jefferson said it could help new entrepreneurs figure out their path.
“When you start a business, you just have this great idea, this thing that you think someone else wants because you love it but is there a market for it. So, the micro-enterprise helps you figure out and helps you navigate that,” Jefferson said.
The project is still in its early phases and Downtown Development Authority leaders said they plan to speak to business owners and city leaders as they move forward.