MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The road to economic recovery after a recession can be a long haul, but the city of Milledgeville is proving small steps can make it happen.
The community took a hard hit when thousands of Baldwin County employees lost their jobs with the closing of several manufacturing companies in 2008.
"That hurt our community bad," says Carlee Schulte, Director of the Downtown Development Authority.
Now, there's a different approach to business. Schulte is working to bring entrepreneurs out of the woodwork to create several small businesses.
"If that business decides to up and leave it doesn't crush us," says Schulte.
The plan seems to be working. The Department of Labor is reporting an unemployment rate of 12.3% for Baldwin County as of March 2012. It was 13.5% one year ago. Schulte credits a dropping rate, in part, to new storefronts downtown.
"There's such a variety of customers you can draw from."
Four new businesss' moved into downtown since the start of 2012. Owner of Herndon's, a men's clothing store, says before he opened he made sure his business was the right fit.
"I did my research, found out there was a niche market... The market has really adapted to my store. I love being able to help them and at the same time they help me," says Kyle Stephenson, Owner of Herndon's.
The welcoming community is why owner of Sun Studio chose Milledgeville to open his second tanning salon.
"I remembered the atmosphere was really great, so when it was time to expand, this was the perfect place," says Brian Jones, Owner of Sun Studio.
With at least three more businesses on their way into town this summer, and the completion of Baldwin Lofts set for august 1st, the dark days of economic depression seem to be a distant memory for the City of Milledgeville.