A new garage is coming to downtown Macon, but its not for cars. Rather, its a place to tinker around with new business ideas.
The Bears Garage is Mercer Universitys social entrepreneur incubator program, which will be run by students but is open to the community. It was created by Mercer professor Tom Glennon, director of the social entrepreneur program in the International and Global Studies department.
We hope to create individuals who will help change the world, he said.
Students involved in the program will encourage entrepreneurs to bring their business ideas and plans before others who are developing ideas. The think-tank program will provide support, encouragement and guidance to bring the plans to life. About 10 students currently are involved in the program.
Mercer students Korby Bohannon and Payton Jonson plan to help market the program, coming up with a logo and creating T-shirts.
Bohannon said he would like to create a business that would include all fields of design -- the graphics, interior, architectural, fashion -- and incorporate it into one. ... I would be using recycled fabrics, paper.
Business ideas brought to the Bears Garage are to include a social-good component, such as using recycled products or using profits to help the disadvantaged. Anyone with a business idea may submit a proposal.
The Bears Garage students will meet monthly, and the first meeting is scheduled from 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at NewTown Macon, 479 Cherry St., and is open to the public.
As a partner with Bears Garage, downtown business booster NewTown Macon will provide space for the students to meet at its offices and will bring in Macon business leaders such as lawyers, bankers and business owners to share their expertise with students and entrepreneurs, said Kris Hattaway, director of place with NewTown.
So far, more than 30 business executives have agreed to participate, she said.
We look forward to growing businesses that will change the world, Hattaway said. Although its not a requirement for the business to open in downtown Macon, we will be here along the way to help those businesses find storefronts when needed.
Social entrepreneurship has been offered as a degree at several universities for about 30 years, and Mercer added it as a minor and a major last year, Glennon said.
Its a new hybrid of business enterprise which weighs profit in relationship to social and environmental issues, he said.
For example, a business making high-end cosmetics was created in Nashville, Tenn., the profits of which go toward helping women stay off the streets, he said.
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.