Bringing business to Farragut and helping those businesses thrive has long been a priority of the Town of Farragut. Elected officials and Town Administrator David Smoak travel to the International Council of Shopping Centers conference every year to recruit national businesses to Farragut. Costco is one fruit of this endeavor.
Recruiting small business is a different animal. Maker spaces and Etsy are good places for virgin entrepreneurs to start their businesses, but the leap from there to a brick-and-mortar storefront can be long and scary. The Farragut Economic Development Advisory Committee is researching ways to attract these fledgling businesses.
EDAC member Christine Horwege is utilizing connections she’s made through business, local schools and personal interest to learn more about what start-ups need. She wants the committee to connect with local resources for entrepreneurs like the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) and attend start-up presentations. Helping start-up owners navigate the process of opening a storefront is a way to creatively bring in new business, she says.
One of the first steps of the EDAC initiative is to create a list of commercial properties in Farragut that could be attractive to start-ups. In addition to commercial real estate listings, it may include unadvertised space in buildings that are already leased.
The EDAC initially planned to offer mentoring services to new business owners, but found that there are already several local resources that provide free counseling, like KEC, The Small Business Development Center at Pellissippi State and SCORE. Instead, EDAC will focus on making the process of starting a new business in Farragut easier.
The Town already has an online checklist for new businesses, but recognizes that improvements need to be made. It’s a complex task. Businesses require a broad range of permits, and there are different steps depending on whether a location is new or renovated construction. Signage, lighting and landscaping need to meet Town standards, and there are rules regarding special events like grand openings.
One thing that will help make an improved checklist a reality is the recent hiring of Trevor Hobbs, assistant to the town administrator. One of his responsibilities is streamlining services.
“The process of opening a business will always be complex and require attention to detail,” he says. “My goal is to make information simple to find, digest and implement. Everyone wins when we dedicate time and attention to helping businesses lay down roots here. We look forward to growing together.”
That’s the message Horwege hopes to share with start-ups that will soon be looking for a place to set up shop.
“I feel like we have a story to tell. We need to make sure that people know that Farragut is a rich environment to grow a business and that we have a lot to offer as a community,” she says.
Wendy Smith coordinates marketing and public relations for the Town of Farragut.