After more than six years of planning the City of Hinesville finally broke ground on their Small Business Incubator. The groundbreaking ceremony held Jan. 29, in downtown Hinesville brought together officials from the City of Hinesville, the Hinesville Development Authority (HDA) and dignitaries from community partners such as Georgia Southern University, Liberty Campus President Kyle Marrero.
The City first discussed a proposed business incubator during a two-day planning workshop at the Sea Palms Resort and Conference Center back in 2015. At that time the Small Business Incubator was originally planned to be housed in the old Hinesville Bank building, on the corner of South Main Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Instead the Small Business Incubator is being built at 207 W Memorial Drive and will be a 5,000 square foot building and according to a city release, the first and only of its kind for the Hinesville community, which will help local entrepreneurs develop and grow business in the area.
“We have put in a lot of effort to get to this point,” City Manager Kenneth Howard said. “This is the culmination of great partnerships, not just the City Development Authority, but also the City of Hinesville Mayor and Council, the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and most important Georgia Southern University who will be managing this facility for us. They have a facility similar to this in Statesboro. We visited their site several times and we feel this small business facility in the City of Hinesville will work well.”
The small business incubator, which will take approximately 18 months to construct, will serve as a central hub for local entrepreneurs to receive the necessary technical assistance and infrastructure needed to develop and grow a business in the area. Not only will the small business incubator give entrepreneurs a physical space to operate their business, it will also give them access to services that will help them refine their business model and access capital.
The construction of the incubator is the culmination of a communitywide initiative to grow business in the Hinesville area. With GSU onboard as a partner, leaders purchased a .72-acre parcel at 207 W. Memorial Dr. to serve as the small business incubator’s home site.
Howard called it a $1.5 million dollar investment into the community.
“At the City of Hinesville, we are committed to supporting our local business economy by investing in tools and resources that our local entrepreneurs need to launch and maintain a successful thriving business, thereby benefiting the community as a whole through job creation and adding to our community’s quality of life,” Howard said.
Howard added that the incubator will offer between 11 to 13 office spaces at a discounted rate. This will give new entrepreneurs the opportunity to operate and grow their businesses before taking the big step of setting out on their own. He said that in addition to GSU staff, they will be utilizing the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center.
“They come with a certain level of expertise,” Howard said.
“The small business incubator will enhance our community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” HDA Chairman Justin McCartney said. “Our goal is to help new and seasoned business owners grow, expand and thrive.”
“The Small Business Incubator will be a game changer in Hinesville,” Hinesville Mayor Allen Brown said while crediting the HAD with implementing successful projects in the City, like the Oglethorpe Shopping Square and now this project. “It will be a catalyst for small business growth in Hinesville. Without small business millions of Americans would be without jobs.”
The Small Business Incubator will be located directly across from the GSU Liberty Campus and just minutes away from City Hall and the Liberty Chamber of Commerce. “We are very excited to be expanding our presence in Hinesville through this partnership,” said GSU President Kyle Marrero. “The Business Innovation Group at Georgia Southern exists to ignite small business development throughout our region, and we look forward to having an innovation hub located in Hinesville that is dedicated to enhancing and supporting economic growth and prosperity to the community and the entire region.”