The new year will bring a new effort to help entrepreneurs who are starting up small businesses in Gwinnett County.
County officials recently cut the ribbon for the Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center near the Lawrenceville Square, the last step in a long preparation to open the center in January. The center is a county-sponsored effort, in partnership with Georgia Gwinnett College, to offers assistance to entrepreneurs and help small business startups get off the ground.
“The entrepreneur center will serve as a safe space to exchange ideas, collaborate, receive mentoring and build a foundation to become the best business leaders possible,” said Gwinnett County Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson said.
“This is an equitable opportunity for small business owners to thrive in a low-cost, central location.”
The center, which is located in the former Sheltering Arms daycare facility on North Perry Street in Lawrenceville, has been in the works for a couple of years. County commissioners gave the green light to renovate the facility in 2020 so that it could accommodate a business incubator.
That work, while delayed by some issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, finished up earlier this year, but the center then had to work on lining up its first class of startups while some equipment delayed by pandemic-related supply chain issues were waited on.
The application window for the center opened in July.
County officials used an application process to find entrepreneurs who showed potential in terms of starting up or growing a business, but still needed some help to get there.
Some startups will be “resident members,” which means they will be housed in the center. Meanwhile, other startups will be “affiliate members,” which means they can benefit from the center’s assistance, but they don’t need to be housed in it.
“The Gwinnett Entrepreneur Center takes an innovative approach to helping our small businesses by enhancing what they learn and how they grow,” said commission Vice-Chair and District 4 Commissioner Marlene Fosque. “This inaugural class of entrepreneurs are blazing a trail that others will follow for years to come.”
An alumnus of Georgia Gwinnett College is part of the inaugural class of members at the center. The facility’s location north of the Lawrenceville Square also puts it just off the new “college corridor” that opened in Lawrenceville earlier this year to connect downtown Lawrenceville with GGC’s campus.
“This is going to be one of the most viable assets we have in Gwinnett County,” GGC President Jann L. Joseph said. “This connection to this area will only enhance GGC. We want to expand our relationships with the county, the city of Lawrenceville and with our entrepreneurs. This center allows us to have endless possibilities to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals.”