By Karen Thompson, branch manager of Rockmart Public Library, Sara Hightower Regional Library System. The Sara Hightower Regional Library System is a system of six public libraries in the Northwest Georgia region serving Chattooga County, Polk County and Floyd County.
The Rockmart Public Library offers patrons who want to start a new business an opportunity for customized guidance through the start-up process through a program called Leaders Build Leaders.
“This program is a blend of community need and patron request,” said Karen Thompson, branch manager of the Rockmart Public Library. “Libraries offer a variety of services geared toward business enhancement, but making information more personal, through local resources, has made all the difference. We partnered with our local Chamber of Commerce to create a program that helps new start-ups through the process of establishing their business and then connects them with community resources to help them succeed.”
Leaders Build Leaders began in fall 2021, and 14 new businesses have participated. Some of the businesses represented include a cleaning company, a massage therapist, a personal shipping company, and a consulting agency. The program currently meets once a month and features a different presentation from area businesses. Presenters have included an insurance agent, local entrepreneurs, a graphic designer, the Small Business Development Center, and an attorney. Future presentations will cover signage, local ordinances, and accounting. The program’s refreshments are sponsored by Georgia Power.
Leaders Build Leaders was inspired by Karen Thompson’s participation in Georgia Public Library Service’s Entrepreneurial Mindset Training and the American Library Association’s Libraries Build Businesses program. The series seeks to deliver comprehensive solutions to common obstacles facing start-ups. The success of the series has inspired other branches in the Sara Hightower Regional Library System to explore offering a similar program for their communities.
“Rockmart’s community rallies behind small business owners, and a healthy downtown business community impacts the city at large, in a positive way,” adds Thompson. “We want our community strong and our patrons successful. The library can play a key role in this cycle which enhances the libraries presence, overall.”