On February 27, 2020, Envision Athens presented its Emergent Launch and Learn event in partnership with the Northeast Georgia Business Alliance, Goodwill, the Office of Economic Development, the UGA Small Business Development Center, and Athens-Clarke County Housing and Community Development.

Emergent Launch and Learn is a workshop to help people turn their side hustles into their main hustles. It also helps local business owners turn their small businesses into big businesses.

Much of the planning for this year’s event was done by Keisha V. Ryals. “When the opportunity was brought before me to spearhead Emergent Launch and Learn this year, I think it’s safe to say that I was super excited that I had the opportunity to meet such beautiful and intelligent business owners and that I could possibly help them with vital information for their businesses,” said Keisha V. Ryals.

At this year’s event, there were various workshop sessions including the mechanics of starting a business, securing contracts, bidding locally, and cash flows. In addition, a panel of people with various business backgrounds, including some participants from last year’s Emergent event, spoke about their experiences.

“I’m always so geeked about business owners being in the same room when the wheels in their head start to turn. The ideas that business owners have for their business and enhancing the economic development within our community never ceases to amaze me,” said Keisha V. Ryals.

Keisha V. Ryals is passionate about the intersection of community and business. Her job as the Executive Director/CEO of the Northeast Georgia Business Alliance deals directly with bridging the gap between business and community. This year’s Emergent Launch and Learn demonstrated how intertwined these two are in Athens.

As Keisha V. Ryals said, “Athens has a unique culture that engages not only students but the community as well. When you think about all the locally owned businesses that generate revenue that is in return fed back into the community, that’s economic development at its finest.”

Emergent Launch and Learn connected local entrepreneurs and small business owners to the resources that can help them thrive. In return, their innovation will enhance economic development throughout our community.

“One thing I love about the Athens community is that we have very special people in very special places able to provide some pretty significant resources. Business owners, emerging and established, have access to experts in different fields who could really help take their business to the next level,” said Keisha V. Ryals.

Thank you, Keisha, for the leadership and enthusiasm you put into this Emergent. And thank you to all those who came to this year’s event and are making our local economy a more vibrant place to work and engage.

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