The Columbus Jobs Foundation board voted at its quarterly board meeting Thursday to pursue a feasibility study for an entrepreneurial center.
Entrepreneurial centers, sometimes referred to as business incubators, provide shared space and expertise for small businesses to grow. Once a business gets a toehold in its respective market, typically after two to three years, the owners find their own space in the community and grow, creating new jobs.
Entrepreneurial center committee chairperson Jonathan Medford told the board that the study will examine potential sites and make recommendations. The Jobs Foundation then plans to pursue a federal economic development grant that is an 80/20 match.
The Town of Tabor City recently received a similar grant and plans to renovate an abandoned downtown furniture store. A business incubator on the outskirts of Tabor City, which includes the Ganz plush toy company and RadixBay computing support center, is now full.
This year, the Jobs Foundation has created committees that will explore opportunities beyond its usual task of assisting the county’s Economic Development Commission in business and industrial recruitment.
In addition to the entrepreneurial committee, other committees include one to promote private residential development to increase the tax base and support service industry jobs, another to develop a 3 1/2-mile hard trail along the south side of Lake Waccamaw State Park to attract fitness enthusiasts and ecotourism, and Fair Bluff recovery.
The Columbus Jobs Foundation is a non-profit corporation with a volunteer board that supports economic development in Columbus County. The group also operates Southeast Regional Industrial Park near Union Valley.