Cherokee Office of Economic Development · Cherokee by Choice.

Entrepreneurship Stories, Part 11: Stories of How Entrepreneurs in Cherokee County, GA are Adapting to COVID-19

April 21, 2020

Story 11: The Mill on Etowah, Grant Schmeelk

THE MILL ON ETOWAH is an adaptive re-use development in downtown Canton, GA., envisioned and led by lead developers Penn Hodge and Grant Schmeelk. The former denim factory now features a brewery, restaurants, a co-working environment, and more. The Mill is uniquely situated on the Etowah River and provides a natural amenity to its tenants and guests.

We spoke with Grant Schmeelk to find out how he, Penn and team are preparing for and adapting to the COVID-19 crisis.

As a real estate development company, we started to make changes to our development schedule and project timelines. Some of our tenants are closed but construction continues.

2. How have you and your business adapted to the situation?

We were able to pivot and stage our sub-contractors around the development to stay in compliance with recommended guidelines.

3. How have you prepared and led your team/employees?

We are working hard to keep everyone informed and educated about COVID-19 while maintaining best practices. We have found that staying positive and working a regular schedule keeps things normal.

4. What new things/perspectives (or old ones reinforced) have you learned about yourself, your business, and/or your community?

In times of turmoil and uncertainty, it is important to maintain a calm and creative mindset. Calmer heads usually prevail, and it is easier to adapt to the situation. We have found that having conversations and listening to multiple opinions is helpful to make the best decisions in these times. Everyone is in this together and we will come back stronger than ever.

5. How have you stayed focused and positive?

Maintaining regular routine, communication with other industry professionals, and regular exercise. It is important to get sufficient sleep and maintaining a well-balanced diet helps with escalated stress.

6. What are some encouraging thoughts or stories you have heard that have kept you grounded?

The community is uniting together to help. Distilleries are making hand sanitizer, restaurants are getting creative on food delivery and carryout options, and politicians are uniting to pass laws to get rid of red tape – all for the greater community in record time.

7. How can we as a community best support you during this tough time?

Support local businesses financially, share the information from local social platforms data to cross-market each other so everyone knows what people are offering. Continue to share ideas for parents who are now teachers and post jobs about who is hiring in our community. Connect people online and provide and communicate accurate info.

To learn more about The Mill on Etowah in Canton, visit them at

Stay tuned for future stories as we continue to shed a light on local entrepreneurs. We hope you are inspired by these stories and motivated to patronize and support them together.

Have ideas, questions or stories? Reach out to us at or emailing us directly at