A recent study by SmartAsset, combined with a previous Appalachian Regional Commission study, reflect the major role small businesses play in Fannin County’s economy.
But the statistics came as no surprise to two leaders at the heart of economic progress.
The SmartAsset study, released late last month, places Fannin County sixth among all Georgia counties for small business strength.
The study weighed three factors, the percentage of people in a county with small business income, the proportion of that income to county wide small business income and taxes paid by small business owners.
The study showed 32.59% of people with small business income and small business income representing 10.48% of overall income.
Oconee County, just outside of Athens, had the highest percentage of small business returns with 35.59%, with 16.85% small business income.
SmartAsset, a financial technology company, used reports from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Census Bureau, and other government sources in its research.
That research paralleled an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) study two years earlier that touted Fannin’s small business community.
The ARC study looked at “Strengthening Economic Resilience in Appalachia.” It included Fannin County, “because it showed higher resilience than expected. Self-employment was the dominant sector, accounting for 43% of employment, 56th among all counties in the United States,” the study said.
Foremost among Fannin’s strengths cited by the ARC were the number of small businesses, those businesses driven by outdoor recreation opportunities provided by the Chattahoochee National Forest, the Toccoa River, excellent trout fishing, and Blue Ridge Lake.
Fannin County Economic Director Christie Gribble said the studies confirm the many assets locally that appeal to small businesses.
“Fannin County offers opportunity to create your own work, whether through your creative skills, starting an online business, or by starting a small business related to our thriving tourism and real estate industries.
“You can live in this beautiful place surrounded by natural resources while working, which is a dream for most people,” Gribble said.
In addition, it is easy to get a business “up and running,” she said, a comment she said supported by many new businesses that have moved to the area.
Chamber of Commerce President Jan Hackett said, “Small businesses are the backbone of the Fannin County economy.”
In 2020, the Chamber had 811 members, most of them small businesses. These are supported by everyone who shops locally, visitors and second home owners.
“The Chamber believes that shopping locally supports not only local businesses but the community as a whole, growing jobs along with sales tax and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SLOST) revenues for education and services,” Hackett said.
Hackett concluded that while 2020 was a very bad year in many ways, the strength and resilience of the county’s small business owners made it a much better year for the local economy.
For example, this was reflected by the record SPLOST collection of $715,042.07 in October reported by the Fannin County Board of Education at its regular December meeting.
Smart Asset's study can be found online at https://smartasset.com/retirement/atlantic-coast-life-annuity-review#georgia/small-business-returns.