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“Old Gazelles”: An Analysis of Mature, High-Growth, Georgia-Based Firms

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library.

Abstract

As a follow up to a study that identified high-growth finns in Georgia in the late 1980s and measured their success through 1998, this research update gathered employment data to measure the 20-year finn survival rate. While not all of these ""old gazelles"" (mature finns that grew rapidly in their early years) continue to grow at high rates during their second decade, more than 50% of finns from 1998 were still in business with an average of nearly 100 employees and a median nine-year employment growth rate of 11%. More detailed employment and finn acquisition data is analyzed, and further research areas are outlined to explore the long-tenn effects of gazelles on communities as they mature and change ownership. To complement the data analysis, the second section of the paper explores gazelle characteristics and supportive economic development policies in a literature review. Analysis of the Georgia policy environment reveals that new policies signal a recent shift from recruitment and retention strategies to support for small business creation and development. These policies increase the incentives for gazelle entrepreneurs to locate in the state, decrease bureaucratic transaction costs and increase the opportunities for networking and knowledge sharing. As gazelles prospered during the research period (1987 - present) in Georgia in an unfavorable policy environment, the introduction of these more favorable policies will likely increase the success rate of gazelles in the state's future. This paper builds on the research done in 1999 by Malizia and Winders on highgrowth finns (know as ""gazelles"") located in the state of Georgia. Produced under a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority, the initial report defined and analyzed ""gazelle"" characteristics (based on sector, size and location) and detennined policy implications.

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