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Decatur DDA accepting applications for retail recruitment incubator program

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Decatur DDA accepting applications for retail recruitment incubator program

Church Street in Downtown Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The City of Decatur and Decatur Downtown Development Authority have launched a retail recruitment incubator program that will provide online-only businesses with the opportunity to test their concepts in a brick-and-mortar location for a six-month period.

The application process is now open and closes on Sept. 5 at 5 p.m., with up to 10 finalists chosen by Sept. 12. The six winners will ultimately be selected by Sept. 15 and moved into the retail space by Oct. 15, according to the press release from the city.

To be eligible for the retail incubator program, applicants must have been operating for at least two years, have no more than 10 employees, pay for half of the rent associated with the temporary space, share income statements and produce a business plan, according to the press release.

The application process is being conducted entirely online at DecaturDDA.com/Incubator, and for more information, please email Shirley Baylis at [email protected].

The DDA allocated $25,000 for this program during the July 9 board meeting. The funding will provide rental assistance toward a pop-up or co-op space for up to six businesses that currently operate either solely online or in festival settings. The DDA plans to fund 50% of the rent for the commercial space.

“From The Square to the Old Depot District, our economy is largely built on experiences, so the incubator is an investment both in our future and budding entrepreneurs,” Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett in the press release. “This program signals Decatur is committed to bringing people back together and supporting the brick-and-mortar retailers that make our culture second to none.”

Downtown Program Manager Shirley Baylis said at the Aug. 13 DDA meeting that the city has looked at some spaces, but has not finalized a location for the program yet.

The incubator program will also offer a training and mentorship component to help business owners gain institutional knowledge from a wide variety of members of the Decatur business community, including small business owners, accountants, bank representatives and more.

“This incubator program presents a tremendous opportunity to entrepreneurs who have built a strong business online and are confident the market will support a physical presence,” DDA Chair Conor McNally said in the press release. “Our research showed similar programs have been very successful in places like Memphis, Tenn., and Dayton, Ohio, so we are excited for the economic growth and innovation this can spur for Decatur.”

During the July 9 DDA meeting, the board appointed members to the program’s selection and advisory committee.

The committee will be responsible for creating a set of guidelines and requirements for the applicants who participate in the program, reviewing the applications, selecting the participants, developing the goals and expectations of the mentors, coordinating training topics and resources, as well as interviewing and selecting the mentors and trainers, Baylis said at the July meeting.

The members of the committee, including Baylis, are:

– Chet Burge, managing partner of Burge and Associates

– Sean Crotty, owner of Kelly’s Market

– Juanita Marzette, who works at SouthState Bank

– Lisa Turner, DDA board member and owner of Trinity Mercantile & Design.

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