The Oconee County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Department teamed together to have Oconee County designated as an "Entrepreneur Friendly Community" by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). Offered through GDEcD's Small Business & Innovation Division, the Entrepreneur Friendly initiative provides a community-based program that helps create an entrepreneur environment by incorporating an entrepreneur and small business strategy into the community's overall economic development strategy.
In order to work toward the Entrepreneur Friendly designation, a local committee was formed to lead this effort and support the initiative. This committee was comprised of local government, board of education, higher education, minorities, small business owners, utilities, media, and financial service representatives - a cross-section of the community.
The committee then began developing a booklet entitled Starting a Business in Oconee County (PDF) for distribution. Additionally, presentations regarding the initiative have been made to the Chamber of Commerce, local development authority, and civic organizations throughout the community.
In 2010, the Oconee County Economic Development Department partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to host a series of free workshops designed for local small businesses. The initiative continues to this day as a wide range of topics have been brought forth to better educate business owners on the information, resources, and training available to help their businesses succeed. The most recent workshops offered to the community were conducted in spring 2013 with a "Drugs Don't Work" seminar and a "How to Write Your Business Plan" that was presented by UGA's Small Business Development Center (SBDC). An upcoming workshop is scheduled for this fall which will focus on the parallels between Art and Business.