Town abuzz: The aim is make this a common sight this season with tourists flooding down Water Street in St George&rsquo;s. <em>*File photo by Kageaki Smith</em>
Town abuzz: The aim is make this a common sight this season with tourists flooding down Water Street in St George’s. *File photo by Kageaki Smith

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 21: EEZy Does It! is a monthly column presented by the BEDC’s Economic Empowerment Zones Agency (EEZA). Every month, read about entrepreneurship and business opportunities, obtain business management tips, and find out what’s going on in the EEZ business sector.


 

“The Old Towne” is full of potential and the St George’s Economic Empowerment Zone is a challenge that the Economic Empowerment Zones Agency (EEZA) is relishing.

At the moment, from an economic perspective, the entrepreneurs are facing a business perfect storm: tourism’s cyclical off-season; a national economic downturn; and a customer base that is becoming more discerning with their spending habits.

But of course that is only half of the story… these facts must be balanced against other facts; and those other facts excite me and let me see the glass as ‘half-full’.

These stats are: St George’s was the fastest growing parish between 2000 and 2010, with the population growing by 18 per cent; tourists in St George’s can be far better served by new small businesses; there are countless opportunities for innovative retailers to enhance St George’s residents’ quality of life; and the islands surrounding St George’s also provide opportunities for new tourist excursions and tours.

Observers may notice that there are several organizations already operating in the Old Town:

The Corporation of St George’s, the Chamber of Commerce, the St George’s Foundation, the National Trust, and others.

The EEZA is not merely adding to the mix as “another organisation”.   The EEZA uses experience, data, and reports to identify the factors that are relevant to retailers and service providers to guide them to best practices to help serve their market; and we are deep enough to knit the other entities’ efforts together to fully empower all of St George’s stakeholders whether they are resident or entrepreneur.

Every week, the EEZA, with its products, services, and expertise is assisting several entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities in St George’s.

While I am unable to reveal the specifics, I can say that the ventures involve serving both tourists and residents with a service or product that is not currently available in St George’s.

For tourists, we need to ensure that St George’s attracts and excites all tourists who come to the town: those who want to explore, those who want to chill, and those who are not sure what to do.

For example, to facilitate the new emphasis on tourists, the EEZA has worked extremely closely with an entrepreneur vying for the Visitors’ Information Centre and hopefully if he is successful, this venture will help tourists to experience all that St George’s has to offer.

From a residents’ perspective, it is clear that there is much more that can be provided to serve the people who live in St George’s.

There are over 3,500 residents in St George’s but only one main grocery store, only one cellphone outlet, and nowhere at all to purchase business and administrative supplies.

You cannot buy a television, a computer, or a smoothie in the town; but there are several outlets to find china, linens, and artwork.

St George’s can have the best of all worlds. There, entrepreneurs can provide amazing tourist experiences, as well as provide residents with many more reasons to shop in the town and support its entrepreneurs.

One of the roles EEZA has is to help bring these entrepreneurial aspirations to life.

Come on down and let St George’s surprise you today.

Corey Butterfield is the Economic Development Officer for the St. George’s EEZ. He is responsible for providing business owners in the designated EEZ and surrounding areas with business development advice and loan/grant guarantee assistance. In addition Corey collaborates with other area organizations and groups to create opportunities for business revitalization and growth in St George’s and the east end.