Big Incubator Expanding to Hinesville and Metter, Georgia

The Business Innovation Group (BIG) is expanding its business incubators to Hinesville and Metter, Georgia. BIG, at the Parker College of Business of Georgia Southern, is focused on providing students with the skills and training necessary to understand business principles, to experience how businesses operate and to successfully launch a new business enterprise.

Currently BIG has one incubator located in downtown Statesboro. The “mothership” business incubator is a joint partnership between the University and City of Statesboro. With two new incubators planned in two very different communities, BIG is shifting its focus in those markets — agriculture in Metter and military and government in Hinesville.

Metter — Agro-Business

“In Metter we went through the process of doing a feasibility study,” said Dominique Halaby, DPA, director of the Business Innovation Group. “BIG worked with area businesses and community leaders to outline a strategy and to make a determination whether or not this facility could sustain itself if launched within Metter.”

The study findings showed the Metter community was very supportive of the project. The resulting partnership triggered the transformation of the city’s former public works building into the new incubator.

BIG is also planning to leverage the relationship with Georgia Grown, the marketing and economic development program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture, to connect with other agricultural-related businesses.

They’ve already convinced one company, currently located in Effingham County, to move their hydroponic facility and headquarters to the new incubator in Metter. 

“We’re really thrilled about that because it comes with a very strong capital access commitment and job commitment of over 20 jobs,” said Halaby, “So we’re really excited to see this come into fruition especially for a community of only 4,000 people.”

Hinesville — Military Community

In Hinesville, with the support of the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration grant of $750,000, along with a matching contribution from the Hinesville development authority, BIG will be able to create the new business incubator from scratch. It will be directly across the street from the Liberty Campus.

“The focus in Hinesville has been very much on catering towards the military community,” said Halaby. “Whether it’s through defense contracting or helping active duty service members and their families or area veterans to launch new business enterprises and get the skills they need to be successful.”

Different Class of Incubator

The incubator in Statesboro is also going through an expansion phase. Already at capacity, the Statesboro incubator is working with the local development authority to expand its footprint and add more international activity.

The Metter location opening is planned for this winter and Hinesville later next year.

— Liz Walker