After 10 years of bouncing around the idea of starting a merchant association, Lula Mayor Jim Grier has decided to take the plunge.
“It goes back to the old proverb that says, ‘Two heads are better than one,’” Grier said. “And if you can get more than two, you’re better off.”
Noticing the increase of small businesses in Lula, Grier decided that now was the time to promote their growth.
He has seen other merchant associations — like the Gainesville Business Coalition — conduct joint marketing efforts among its members to promote special events in their downtown areas. Grier has also witnessed these groups identify community needs and support charities.
By establishing a merchant association, Grier believes the small businesses and community as a whole will reap the benefits in the long-run.
“Getting together and talking about financing, business planning and marketing helps them to have a voice and bounce off ideas in the community,” Grier said. “We want to see the success of our small businesses.”
The merchant association would be a separate entity from the City of Lula. However, Grier said the Lula City Council intends to work closely with the group, helping them find resources to “get their efforts off the ground.”
The mayor will launch a networking event at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12 at Lula’s City Hall to catalyze the development of the merchant association. Grier encourages small Lula business owners to attend.
The event will start with a community picnic, serving hotdogs and hamburgers, then lead into a presentation about forming a merchant association. Grier said the members of the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center and the Service Corps of Retired Executives will participate, and provide brief talks about their small business services.
He hopes that the networking event will inspire a natural leader to spearhead the merchant association and recruit members. So far, Grier said several small business owners have expressed interest in forming the group.
“This would really promote the downtown area of Lula as well as the rest of the community,” he said. “We want to make sure everybody that’s a small business owner has a chance to be at the meeting and get involved.”
For more information about the upcoming merchant association, contact Grier at 770-869-3801.