Aberdeen Seeks Ways to Stimulate Business Start-ups, Growth
Aberdeen officials remain convinced that the way to a thriving economic future is to foster the birth and growth of new small businesses in the community.
How to go about that, however, remains a difficult job and will likely require more study as the town moves forward. To that end, commissioners Monday evening agreed to invite Nancy Gottovi down to determine what businesses could be most beneficial to the town.
Gottovi developed STARworks Center for Creative Enterprises in Montgomery County. STARworks is a business incubator that helps start and grow small, rural community businesses, with a leaning toward agriculture. She has expressed interest in bringing a similar initiative to Aberdeen.
Town Planning Director Kathy Liles told the board that by partnering with Gottovi, the town could help fill up empty buildings and eventually create businesses that would bring more people downtown.
"We are looking to develop a framework on which you can hang ideas," Liles said. "Then we will talk about space and funding."
She said an arts-based business like glass-blowing or sculpture would offer opportunities for demonstrations and other hands-on activities that "encourage people to spend money on the spot."
Some of the ideas that were thrown around Monday included arts-based businesses, like painting, jewelry-making, stationery-making and pottery.
Commissioner Robbie Farrell offered a concept that would emphasize fresh, local foods.
"You could do something with locally grown crops," he said. "You could create a brand by bottling something or canning something."
Resident Maurice Holland Sr. and Patrick Coughlin, president of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, expanded on that idea.
Coughlin said there is a need in Moore County for an industrial kitchen that possibly could be rented out. Holland said by providing that, local chefs and bakers could be free to practice their craft.
"You might be surprised what you get," Holland said.
Farrell said a glass-blowing or ceramics business could tie into the food business by creating and selling the vessels that the food could be served or packaged in.
Coughlin also suggested the idea of using technology to possibly create a business centered around the video-gaming industry.
Mayor Betsy Mofield said she preferred the board to come up with a business idea that is different from others in Moore County.
"We've got to brainstorm what our equivalent of pottery would be," she said.
Mofield also said the town should look to help bring entrepreneurs and businesses together rather than become an active participant in the process and risk alienating other business owners.
"If you pick a space and you provided low rent or no rent for an incubator, you have competition from the town with other private enterprise and that's not healthy," she said. "The role we should play is bringing people together to make things happen."
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey@ thepilot.com.
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