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Follow Mayor McGill lead with small bizes

When Ralph McGill was elected mayor in 2009, he made it a priority to attract small businesses to our Town and build a supportive business environment where all businesses can thrive. Due to our demographics and location, we are on the radar of many national retailers.

Attracting small businesses requires a little more effort. Small business owners need to know that there is a network of support for them and that they are valued. Town residents have long advocated that they would like to see more small businesses.

Slowly, but surely, we have been successful in building a supportive business environment. In my opinion, one of the most significant steps toward providing support for small businesses in our Town was the addition of a business liaison to our staff in 2018.

The business liaison serves a critical role in assisting small business owners as they prepare to navigate the buildout of their brick- and-mortar businesses. The business liaison smooths a complicated process with direct and timely communication.

Time is money, and our small businesses need every opportunity to build out their businesses in as timely a manner as possible. In the four years that our business liaison has been on staff, he has interacted with at least 51 businesses, most of which are small businesses. The feedback from new business owners has been overwhelmingly positive.

Beyond his outreach to assist new businesses, the business liaison is responsible for hosting pre-project consultations for new business owners, preparing and updating the business development guide to help small business owners interested in starting a business, hosting “How to Build a Business in Farragut” seminars and maintaining contact with business owners through buildout.

A codes business liaison was also added to in 2018. The responsibilities of the codes business liaison include providing on-site pre-project consultation and giving guidance/assistance to business owners during buildout.

The Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1987. It hosts networking events and ribbon cuttings. The organization supports the Town’s business recruitment efforts, connects business owners with the Tennessee Small Business Development Center, SCORE and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and provides educational opportunities.

The Farragut Business Alliance’s mission is to positively impact Farragut’s economic growth by assisting new businesses, supporting and promoting existing businesses and, in coordination with the Town of Farragut, aiding in the economic development and promotion of the community.

It does this by managing the Shop Farragut program, which includes many annual events and programs. Specifically, it coordinates grand opening signage for new businesses and hosts community events that offer booth space for local businesses. In the case of MusicFest and Dog Daze, multi-day events held in West End and Village Green shopping centers, respectively, shops in those centers gained exposure as well. The Shop Farragut for the Holidays campaign and the monthly Town Sampler promotional campaign are additional opportunities for businesses, particularly small businesses, to gain publicity.

Visit Farragut, which was established in 2018, provides marketing to hotels, restaurants and retail businesses through the Visit Farragut website, maintains a social media presence to highlight Town businesses and Town events, builds relationships with Town businesses, and provides Farragut Dining Guides and Quarterly Happenings brochures through hotels, the Farragut West Knox Chamber, Farragut Community Center and Farragut Town Hall.

With all these entities in place, the next step is to make sure we are coordinating and optimizing all efforts so we can be more effective at supporting our existing businesses and attracting new ones to our community.