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News Community ‘Venture Local’ citizen group working to improve local economy

The citizen group, Venture Local Franklin, held a meeting last Thursday at Willy's BBQ to discuss what is already great about Franklin in order to better assess what the community needs as a whole.

Venture Local Franklin is a grassroots movement geared toward promoting positive and sustainable community advancement. As a citizen maintained movement, they value inclusivity and participation that is action based and outcome focused. The group works together to collaboratively strengthen the regional economy by utilizing the area's natural resources to establish common goals, nurture entrepreneurial ventures and drive innovation with the goal of moving Franklin forward.

The group holds its meetings at locally owned businesses in order to further support Franklin’s local economy, which is a primary goal of Venture Local. “I would also like to mention that meeting at locally owned businesses is paramount, and supporting our local businesses is a major goal when deciding upon meeting locations.” said Matt Bateman, leader of the organization.

Matt Bateman, one of the original founders of the Venture Local Franklin forum, said last week's meeting of the group is the fourth gathering since its inception in November, which started with six business managers/owners from Franklin.

The six founders attended Advantage West's “Venture Local Asheville” event held last October and were looking to bring some ideas back to Franklin and implement them into the local economy. One of the main things that has developed during the forming of the Venture Local Franklin is that locally owned businesses are striving to work together more by sharing ideas and resources for the betterment of the overall local economy.

Community members with Venture Local Franklin met at Willy’s BBQ last week to discuss the positive aspects of Franklin in order to identify areas of improvement. The grassroots organazation is geared toward bringing economic development to Macon County. Photo provided“We can’t stress enough that we are an inclusive movement. This is not any one person's group,” said Bateman. “This is Franklin's group, period. We want to see Franklin thrive and be a leader within the region. If anyone has ideas and a positive attitude they are encouraged to join us.”

Since the forum began last November, the group has averaged around 40 citizens attending meetings, the group is comprised of a very diverse group that has included the Chamber director, Main St. Program director, EDC director, TDA/TDC members... along with small business owners, concerned citizens, realtors, etc..

The latest meeting of the group was focused on the positive aspects Franklin is already flourishing on, in order to identify areas of improvement. “We focused on ‘What we love about Franklin’.

We had attendees team up with their neighbors and write down what they love... this quickly lead into what Franklin needs,” said Bateman. “Afterwards, we all shared our ideas in front of the group. From these ideas, we want to form ‘committees’ or ‘teams’ that concerned citizens can ‘own’.”

According to Bateman, the next step in the Venture Local process is for each committee or team to develop individual strategies. “What we envision are teams like: ‘Tourism’, ‘Marketing/Strategy’, ‘Real Estate', ‘Beautification’, ‘Education’, Etc..... we want our inclusive group to take charge of their passion (whatever that may be) and apply it to a committee they can relate to,” he said. “We believe this will garner productive relationships within the community and beyond, and help form a stronger local economy.”

According to Tommy Jenkins, Director of Macon County's Economic Development Commission, Venture Local is an excellent tool for the promotion of economic growth throughout the county. “Anytime you get a great group of driven citizens with clear, entrepreneurial goals, it is going to benefit the county,” said Jenkins. “Venture Local is working on clear goals with the intent of boosting the local economy. I definitely think that anything that promotes local business is going to help.”


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