The local economy saw a boom in net new job growth in the past five years thanks to entrepreneurs. That’s the message from The Clubhouse Founder and President Eric Parker, who has a major hand in giving new business startups a chance.
He told NewsChannel 6 there are172 members in The Clubhouse and 59 active companies working out of space inside the Georgia Cyber Center’s Hull McKnight building on the third floor.
Yvette Hanner, President, CEO & Owner of Advanced Technology Leaders, Inc. knows all too well what it’s like to be a small business.
“There’s no 9 to 5 for us,” she told us. “We work all the time. I never leave the office without my computer.”
Hanner started her own business in 2016 with just two people.
“My husband had background in it,” she explained. “I had government background. So we had a good idea of where we wanted to go.”
Advanced Technology Leaders, based at Enterprise Mill, has now blossomed.
“We are at about 100 employees,” she exclaimed.
Hanner said despite the sudden growth, she actually started her business plan in 2006.
ATL offers government services to dozens of clients.
“We do a lot of Cyber information, instruction, security. We have electronic warfare. That’s kind of one of our biggest things we’re into right now,” she said. “We do have contracts with the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Guard and the VA so we kind of cover all the services, which is nice. The services will vary depending on what services it is or what type of service that they need. But most of it falls into IT, cyber and electronic warfare.”
Hanner admitted finances were a challenge when launching her small business, which is one of more than 200,000 in the Peach State, on her own.
But since 2012, new businesses have started up at The Clubhouse and can now be found everywhere from online to Broad Street.
“We’ve helped 80 companies get started in the Augusta area and they’ve created 250 jobs in the community,” said Parker.
He added depending on the time commitment and capital, The Clubhouse offers entrepreneurs a chance to launch within three months to a few years.
From an accelerated, year-long program that offers room and board to other options that require a commitment between three months to a few years, Parker said you bring the dicipline and The Clubhouse offers accountabilty.
“Some of them can come in for a weekly event that we call Founders Circle where you get to meet with other entrepreneurs and talk about the struggles that you might have and ideas where you can move forward. We also have a once a month event call One Million Cups. At that we have two entrepreneurs pitch their company that they’re trying to get started to the community.”
He added, “Entrepreneurship is the most important piece of the economy and if you don’t have that, no matter how strong an economy is today and what prospects we have the economy is going to begin to wither over time because you need the constant renewal of new ideas.”
A small business is considered fewer than 500 employees, according to the state’s small business site.