D. C. Moody
PICKENS — The look and feel of Pickens could see a gradual change in 2014 as the Pickens Revitalization Association gets into full-swing wooing new businesses to town.
Partnering with the city of Pickens, the Pickens Revitalization Association (PRA) is looking to put new programs in place and continue the momentum built in 2013 on its existing efforts to increase business retention and recruiting.
Although PRA is primarily in the business of business, Executive Director Allison Fowler feels their efforts benefit everyone.
“Our goals are designed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs,” Fowler said. “But, ultimately what we’re trying to do is make a better quality of life for Pickens County.”
Along with a “major push” for business retention and recruitment, Fowler says the PRA has several programs in their initial stages beneficial for the community, especially small business owners or those looking to become entrepreneurs.
“We are hoping to implement some very business friendly initiatives and programs this year and are in the planning stages on several,” Fowler said. “For February we are laying out what we’re calling a small business resource fair.”
PRA plans to have speakers from the business community speak and educate existing or new businesses. Some of the topics they will cover are the basics of small business such as loans, financing, incorporation and real estate. The fair will allow business owners with a wealth of knowledge to assist in bolstering the local economy.
“The small business fair works in conjunction with our partnership with the Appalachian Council of Governments,” Fowler explained. “We are part of their pilot program to create an entrepreneur-friendly environment and what we hope will be a helpful small business startup guide. We began that process in October and it will take about a year to complete it all, but as we reach certain points the information will be available.”
The revitalization of the downtown area of Pickens is a focus for the next 12 months for the PRA and the city of Pickens.
“Partnering with the city we are hoping to create an incentive program for businesses to relocate or start up in downtown,” Fowler went on to say. “The incentives aren’t set in stone and we have to work with city council of course, but I think some of the ideas will be a good draw for prospective owners.”
Even though the PRA is mainly designed to aid businesses, Fowler talked about the importance of the community’s involvement.
“We need their support,” Fowler said when asked what role the community can play. “What we’re trying to do is good for the community and their encouragement and feedback goes a long way in helping us. There are plenty of events coming up this year members of the community could play a big role in by sharing their experience and knowledge.”
Fowler was optimistic about 2014’s prospects and is working hand in hand with local government to encourage growth, but she was also clear about the importance of the community’s involvement.
“One way we can make a big difference locally is to continue what started as Small Business Saturday,” she said. “Spend locally all year long and be aware of what’s out there and available. That may be the most important thing.”