Three of Cobb’s budding businesses could have county commissioners to thank Tuesday night.
The three, upon a vote by the commission, are set to become the first recipients of the Cobb County Entrepreneurship & Innovation Incentive Program’s Business Investment Grants to the tune of $10,000 each. The cash grants do not originate from county funding but are instead being funded by a contribution by the Development Authority of Cobb County.
“They made a $50,000 contribution to our Cobb Innovation Grant Fund, and with those dollars, we’re able to provide some limited grant resources to entrepreneurs, who we call innovators, in the county. That’s part of a program that the board actually authorized the creation of back in February of 2018,” said Michael Hughes, division manager for the county’s economic development department.
All three businesses went through an application process open to anyone, Hughes said, and were chosen by economic development staff. Future grants, he added, will be awarded by a committee composed of individuals outside county government, including representatives from the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Kennesaw State University and the financial community — a change approved by county commissioners last month.
Two of the three businesses started up earlier this year, according to their grant applications. One is Vnde Blockchain, which describes itself as a “student-focused marketplace that enables the opportunity of attaining higher education to be beneficial and available for all” via linking students and investors or sponsors.
Foundry East Cobb LLC, operating under the name Brilliant Coworking, is offering meeting space “in a professional environment for up to 50 people,” according to its application, and amenities such as Wi-Fi, snacks and drinks. Its facility on Sandy Plains Road is across from Sprayberry High School.
Clutch Creations, meanwhile, was formed as an LLC in 2017 and produces fashionable straps that hold cellphones.
To be eligible for the funding, the three businesses must remain in Cobb County for at least three years, and staff have to go through entrepreneurial training.
While the companies will not have to pay back the grants if they follow all requirements, Hughes said the businesses’ successes would ultimately result in a return to the county via paid taxes and employed residents.
“This is in recognition of the fact that small businesses create really the lion’s share of employment opportunities — we want to certainly recognize in that and support that continued creation of employment opportunities. We want to also focus on those innovators, those new businesses, that have a new idea, new concept, so that we’re growing organically our businesses in Cobb County,” Hughes said. “Traditionally, our model has been to, ‘Hey, let’s get that next corporate relocation,’ which is a great thing, but in addition to that, I think we also want to look at supporting small businesses that are here in our community and those innovators that have new ideas and new concepts, and help them grow and expand — maybe to become the next Apple, the next Google, the next Home Depot.”
The Cobb Board of Commissioners meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Cobb Government Building.