‘Georgians First’ Created to Support Small Ag Businesses


AFTER BEING SWORN IN AS GEORGIA’S GOVERNOR,
ONE OF THE FIRST THING ON BRIAN KEMP’S AGENDA WAS TO CREATE THE GEORGIANS FIRST COMMISSION. [KENNY]
YEAH RAY, IT’S PURPOSE IS TO CUT RED TAPE, STREAMLINE GOVERNMENT AND PROMOTE SMALL BUSINESS
ACROSS THE STATE, PARTICULARLY THOSE BUSINESSES CONNECTED TO AGRICULTURE. THE COMMISSION’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IS SCOTT
HILTON. HE RECENTLY DROPPED BY THE FARM MONITOR STUDIO
TO CHAT WITH US ABOUT THE FOCUS ON RURAL AREA’S AND HOW GOVERNOR KEMP INTENDS TO HELP THOSE
SMALL COMMUNITIES IMPROVE. [Scott Hilton/Executive Dir., Georgians First
Commission] The governor is particularly passionate about
agriculture since that is such a huge component of our state, so we want to hear directly
from agriculture, our farming community to see what are those things that we can be doing
to help make life easier for them, cut barriers, cut red tape, so that they can just operate
their business and help fuel their economy. [Kenny]
Tell me how you’ll do this? I assume there’s going to be a time that the
commission actually does focus groups and talks to these farmers and folks connected
to Ag. [Hilton]
That’s right. So, there’s really two exciting ways to get
involved right now. One of the things we’ve done is work on a
small business survey, that’s going to go out statewide. Where we hear directly from the small business
community, and so there’ll be an opportunity for you all to send that out to your farmers,
and we can then receive feedback directly from them. And then we’re also looking for folks to serve
with us on a focus group, where we can hear directly from the small business owner. And take that feedback into the recommendations
that we give to the governor, of how to streamline state government. [Kenny]
What do you expect to come out of this? What do you anticipate to hear from the Ag
industry, particularly in rural Georgia, the folks who have been affected by storms and
those kinds of things. Will that be part of this? [Hilton]
It really will. So it’s everything. We’re already starting to hear some common
themes. So we’re hearing access to capital that you
need to start the business, run the business, and so we’re looking into that. We’re looking into our different state agencies,
where do, kind of bureaucracy, and things like that get in the way, whether it’s on
the environmental side or you know, water, and things like that. So, looking at all aspects of government that
right now may impede your business. So, we’re looking for those specific ideas
that someone may have, of “Scott, you know, I face this every single day can you help
me break down that barrier.” So it’s through those surveys and those focus
groups that we’re gonna learn a lot of that information. [Kenny]
You work closely with the governor, I guess you have seen first-hand, he has real passion
for rural Georgia, particularly when it comes to healthcare, education, broadband and technology. Speak to that. [Hilton]
He really does. So, when we talk small business all those
things play, it’s all part of that mix. You know you’ve gotta have quality education,
access to healthcare and especially rural broadband. And so there’s a real focus on that, you know
in the metro Atlanta area, they’ve got a lot of resources, but the governor recognizes
that really the heart and soul of Georgia is out in our more rural communities. And so he is absolutely 100% dedicated to
supporting those communities and doing what we can to really across the spectrum support
agriculture and rural Georgia. [Kenny]
How long will this take, this effort of getting out and asking farmers in the Ag industry
and small business, how long will that take and put this together. [Hilton]
Yeah, so our board is comprised of 18 small business owners from all across the state,
who are working hard to come up with a set of recommendations. Our final report is due to the governor June
of 2020. So we’ve got about a year. And what that’s going to look like is, the
recommendations we’ve given to the governor, of ideas that we’ve come up with through hearing
from the small business community. And what we plan to do, is those good ideas,
we’re not going to sit and rest on them, we’re going to go ahead and start implementing them. So by June of next year, we’re gonna be able
to report back to the governor, here’s what we’ve done, and here’s what still needs to
be done moving forward.

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