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Columbia County welcomes stream of business growth, regardless of COVID-19

Published: Oct. 5, 2020 at 5:24 PM EDT
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GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As the economy tries to bounce back, some Columbia County stores say business is thriving -- all betting on growth in the middle of a pandemic.

Opening a pottery studio may not sound like the best idea, but try telling that to Cricket Willis.

“I just believed that it was going to come around and everything was going to come back to a new normal,” Willis said.

Willis opened Artsy Me last week in Grovetown, and now she’s setting up her second location in Columbia County.

“This is where the people are. This is where they’re coming. I mean, it is crazy,” Willis said.

Her Evans location had a better September than last year. But it’s not all good news, as she did have to close her downtown Augusta location.

“Paint and pottery is not essential, although highly beneficial -- it’s not essential. Our business definitely died down a lot,” she said.

But they plan to ride the wave of Columbia County’s growth.

“We are seeing a good uptick in our small business community in retail starts and business licenses that I can tell,” Robbie Bennett of the Development Authority of Columbia County, said.

Bennett says employment is growing and several big businesses are moving here.

“That allows your retail and small businesses to thrive as well,” he explained.

But Bennett says some are still struggling and may not make it and that can’t be forgotten. Yet, the outlook is good.

“Considering what’s going on nationally, I feel like Columbia County is well positioned and very blessed right now,” Bennett said.

Meanwhile, Artsy Me says they hope they have so much success they can reopen their downtown Augusta location. But they say, they certainly don’t expect any issues with this spot.

The Development Authority of Columbia County says Fort Gordon, the Savannah River Site, and businesses like Amazon coming to town will continue to push the whole area forward.

Augusta’s Economic Development Authority says they’re experiencing expecting similar growth for the city.

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