County mulls small business options

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County Commission will likely decide the future of its small business office at a meeting March 21, commissioners said Monday.

The county has been trying to determine how best to proceed with its small business program after its in-house program failed to yield the type of results some on the commission had expected.

Commissioners discussed three options for the future direction of the program Monday.

The first option is one that has already been presented by the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute, which would allow Tech to manage the county's small business program and make it mirror that of a similar program used by the city of Albany.

That program comes with a $50,000 price tag.

Option B would expand the service area allowed in Option A -- from five counties to seven counties -- for commodities and services and 29 counties for construction. This plan also includes the creation of a purchasing database to track various indicators of participants in the program so that the county can have information about who it is benefiting.

The cost for Option B is $65,000.

Option C would allow the county to provide the data collected from its purchasing department to Georgia Tech to create and maintain a database for tracking purposes. There would be no other direct support of Dougherty County's Small Business office.

Option C would cost $45,000.

The county is currently operating a small business office, which County Administrator Richard Crowdis said Monday has seen little traffic since Pinky Modeste, the head of the program, left to work for the Southwest Georgia Regional Commission.

The commission will likely decide to give a 30-day closure notice before deciding which method to take for the future of the small business program.

The program itself is meant to help small businesses gain an advantage on government bids, something that is frequently lost when larger companies bid on projects.