‘One step at a time,’ the Garrettes open their new, needed community business

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Family, friends, and area dignitaries joined the Garrettes in opening their new business. (Photos: Courtesy of Community Students Learning Center)

JANS – Dressed in royal blue business suits, standing in their front yard, on the sunny afternoon of Dec. 27, 2023, on rural Ebenezer Road, Lexington, Miss., Alfred and Ida Garrette welcomed a small community crowd to the opening of their new business: A & I Transportation Service, LLC. “We appreciate you all coming to share with us today,” said Alfred Garrette. “This has been a one step at a time process. We didn’t give up.”  

The Garrettes first sought guidance on starting their business from the Community Students Learning Center’s (CSLC) Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) nearly two years ago.

With dual collaboration between CNPP and community partner Jackson State University’s Small Business Development Center, the Garrettes worked diligently to get their business started. “We did everything that was asked of us because we wanted to make sure everything was legal and in order,” said Alfred Garrette.

He told the audience that A & I Transportation Service, LLC is Medicaid and Medicare approved to transport patients to and from their doctor’s appointments within a 150-mile radius.

A & I Transportation Service, LLC also recently applied for membership with Mississippi Transportation Management (MTM), the state of Mississippi’s non-emergency transportation (NET) manager.  

The Garrettes will also provide transportation to grocery stores and other needed places. However, the customers will have to pay out of pocket for those services. 

Ida Garrette already has years of healthcare transportation service experience from her previous work. She said they are hoping to help fill a great need in the rural communities. “Having transportation is so important,” she said.

Both the Honorable Mayor Robin McCrory and Holmes County Supervisor President LeRoy Johnson were on hand for the event as well as other key invited guests. They both strongly echoed the need for such a service in Holmes County. “So many people, especially the elderly, really need such services,” said Mayor McCrory.  

“This is also an opportunity to grow Holmes County,” said Supervisor Johnson, who represents District 4 where the business is located. “Rural communities are in trouble when it comes to available transportation. I salute Ida and Alfred. Thank you for having the initiative, the courage, and determination to start A & I Transportation Service.” 

CSLC Executive Director Beulah Greer, who serves as the SBA Coalition Coordinator for the CNPP, told the Garrettes how proud she was of them for not giving up, and she assured them that the center will continue to serve them with needed technical assistance for their business. “We are still here for you,” Greer said. CNPP Director Antwan Clark reiterated their commitment to the Garrettes also. 

Leroy Riley, the tax professional for the Garrettes, also commented. “We need to get behind them, support them, and help them all that we possibly can,” Riley said. 

Director Rickey Jones of JSU Small Business Development Center said, “Everything was not easy, but Mr. and Mrs. Garrette had the right hearts for what they were trying to do. It was a pleasure working with them. This truly is a great day!”

For more information or for service, call A & I Transportation Service, LLC at (662) 822-8725 or (662) 770-7820. You may also email:  aitransportationservices@hotmail.com For more information about CNPP, call Antwan Clark at (662) 834-0905, and for more information about JSU Small Business Development Center, call Rickey Jones at (601) 979-1100. 

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‘One step at a time,’ the Garrettes open their new, needed community business

By Jackson Advocate News Service
February 12, 2024