Photo courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Guest Blog: Jesica Clemmons of Sunrise Grocery

I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, but it always seemed as if my heart was born in the mountains. My mom and dad used to bring me to the mountains of North Georgia every chance they got; sometimes it was to hike & other times it was just to have a break from the chaos that always surrounded us. I found a comfort in that peace that we received when traveling for a weekend getaway. I loved it so much that when I turned sixteen and got my license, I would often come up to Blairsville for a hike and to see all the beautiful scenery rather than hang out in the city.

My love for these mountains and the town of Blairsville ended up building the path for me meeting my future husband. So, not only did I snag the perfect guy for me, but I also ended up living in what is for me, Heaven on earth. Not a bad deal, huh? These mountains and the town of Blairsville gave me the love of my life, an amazing job working at the oldest business in the county, and many great friends in my new hometown. Not to mention, I don’t have to drive up anymore for a weekend getaway. My weekends are now much more laid back and fun-filled.

Photo courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Photo courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Jason and I feel so lucky to live here. We live in a spot where most people come for vacation, and they come with good reason. We try to use every free moment we have to explore. Most evenings after we close Sunrise, we take a drive around our mountain town to take in the views. Rather than sit in traffic, we take in the fresh mountain air. We both always say it is better than sitting at home watching T.V.  We usually either drive up to Brasstown Bald and look for all the bears along the way or we drive up Richard Russell to watch the sky change into an array of colors from the setting sun.

Courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Of course, the weekends are our favorite and are never dull. On Saturdays we are at the historic Sunrise Grocery all day. Luckily, Sunrise isn’t just a job for us, we absolutely love being there. We sell Jason’s photography, my mother in law’s knitting, my homemade soap, and lots of local goodies like jams, jellies, honey and t-shirts. So, it’s all fun things and fun people. We get to catch up with a lot of locals who come in to see us, and we also get to meet many new people from all over who are here visiting.  We strike up the fire for our boiled peanuts pretty early and from there it is usually pretty nonstop dipping up peanuts and chatting with our customers all day. It’s never a bad day at the office.

On Sundays we are able to take some time off and usually take full advantage of all this beautiful place has to offer. Sometimes we set out pretty early, as in four o’clock in the morning. Jason is a photographer and I am a nature lover so we will occasionally go somewhere to catch the sunrise. One of our favorite places is Brasstown Bald, which is the highest spot in Georgia. We’ll get up, make a BIG pot of coffee to throw in a thermos, and head out the door to hike up to the tower. A time or two we have been above the clouds and it is unbelievable! What beauty! We watch the clouds below us turn a golden orange before the sun peaks over them. One thing is for sure, we have never regretted getting up early to see a sunrise. As a matter of fact, it is a pretty amazing way to start the day.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Clemmons

Photo Courtesy of Jason Clemmons

We’re not always so ambitious when it comes to getting up early, but we definitely are both eager to get out of the house to go find some fun. Whether it is going to grab coffee at Cabin Coffee, popping into Sunrise to say hello, or head up to Mountain Crossings to check out their outdoor gear or walk a little of the Appalachian Trail, we make our rounds and then find something to do outside. A lot of times we’ll head to Helton Creek waterfall, especially if we have just had a good rain or if it snows. Other times we may go to Vogel State Park for a picnic or to walk around the lake. Vogel is both mine and Jason’s favorite state park in Georgia. You just can’t beat the view there with the lake and mountains as its backdrop. I got to say, it is a great place for a date. We went on one of our first dates there and we have the photo Jason took of the waterfall that day hanging in our room.

In the evening, we sometimes head to town to go out to eat at one of the restaurants. We have a lot of great places to eat in Blairsville so we usually just take turns going to different places. Other times we’ll go hike up to Wildcat to watch the sun go down. It is by far the absolute best place to catch a sunset that I’ve ever been to. It’s a pretty small hike, maybe about a mile, and the view is more than worth every step. It’s a great place to take a picnic or bottle of wine, sit out on the rock and toast to a stunning sunset.

Blairsville Arts, Crafts, and Music Festival 2017

Blairsville Arts, Crafts, and Music Festival 2017

This Memorial Day weekend, celebrate arts, crafts, and music from around our region at the annual Blairsville Arts, Crafts, & Music Festival! Taking place on Blairsville’s historic Town Square, there will be over 60 arts and crafts vendors to visit, yummy mountain fair food available for purchase, and lots of great bluegrass, gospel, and country music for you to enjoy. While you’re downtown, be sure to stop in the quaint shops and delicious restaurants on the square.

The Blairsville Arts, Crafts, and Music Festival will take place from 10am to 5pm on May 27th and 28th. Learn more about the festival at www.visitblairsvillega.com/fun-things-to-do-in-blairsville-ga/festivals/.

cruise in on square

Spring Festival Season 2017

Spring has finally sprung and so has festival season in Blairsville-Union County! With the warmer weather upon us activities abound in these here hills. 

Make sure you don’t forget Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 14th. Several restaurants around town will have specials so you can treat your Mom and make sure she knows how important she is to you. Later that week on Thursday, May 18th the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce hosts their annual Buy Local Extravaganza! This is an opportunity for Union County businesses to showcase themselves and to remind residents how important it is to Buy Local. The event will be held at North Georgia Technical College with FREE parking, FREE admission, and something for every member of the family to enjoy from 4pm-7pm.

Saturday, May 20th features an Armed Forces Day celebration in Downtown Blairsville at 11am. In the afternoon, enjoy the sounds of the flamenco guitar as only Curtis Jones can play them at Paradise Hills Winery. End your day perusing classic cars at the Cruise In on the Square hosted by the Blairsville Cruisers. This is a great way to enjoy the Downtown Blairsville area dining around town, shopping at the stores, and enjoying music in a lively atmosphere!

May wraps up with the 2017 Blairsville Arts, Crafts, and Music Festival! On Saturday, May 27th and Sunday, May 28th from 10am to 5pm, downtown Blairsville will be bustling with arts and crafts vendors, delicious food, an endless amount of musical performances, quaint shops to visit, restaurants to sample and the friendliest people in the mountains! Saturday morning there will be a Memorial Day Parade at 10am and immediately following will be the first annual North Georgia Bed Race benefiting Habitat for Humanity. It is going to be a hoot and a half, y’all!

For more outdoor fun consider exploring a waterfall, visiting Vogel State Park, or hiking up to Brasstown Bald – Georgia’s highest peak! The Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce is happy to help build you a custom itinerary. For local area information, lodging, and additional upcoming events please stop by The Welcome Center located in the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road, or call 706-745-5789, or visit us online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com.

cinco de mayo

Cinco de Mayo – Mountain Style

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican celebration to commemorate the Mexican Army‘s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. American’s mistakenly believe that it is Mexico’s Independence Day. We believe it is a great day to celebrate the Mexican-American culture and really, who doesn’t love a taco?

Blairsville-Union County offers you a variety of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo regardless of the true meaning of the date:

  1.  Armadillo Grill: Tex Mex done right is what you’ll get when you come out to the ‘dillo for Cinco de Mayo. Sukoshi & Terry will be jamming some tunes for you on the patio while you enjoy Cinco de Lim-O Tacos for lunch or Enchilada Casserole for dinner. It may or may not be a rule that you have to try a Fresh Strawberry Margarita and/or a Fresh Mint Mojito to complete your celebration. For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/armadillo.grill/
  2.  The View Grill: The name alone should make you want to come and dine at The View Grill featuring breathtaking views of Butternut Creek Golf Course. They have a fun day planned beginning with Mexican inspired lunch specials at 11am. From 5pm-8pm, enjoy a full Mexican buffet for only $10 including sweet tea. A full bar is available with margarita and pina colada specials, but you can’t leave without trying a Mountain Sangria featuring Grandaddy Mimms moonshine! You’ll even have a chance to win up to $500 in giveaways when you play their fun piñata games. For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/The-View-Grill-at-Butternut-Creek-1654395681507288/
  3.  Tri State Business Women’s Cinco de Mayo: If you are looking for enthusiasm, you won’t find a better group to celebrate with than the Tri-State Business Women. Their first Cinco de Mayo event last year sold out, so they moved to a bigger venue – North Georgia Technical College. Amazing Grace Catering & Events will be serving up a terrific Mexican feast and live music will be playing for your entertainment. All proceeds from the event go to support local charities and scholarships. For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/TriStateBusinessWomen/
  4. Monte Alban: The most authentic place in Union County to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Put on your sombrero and celebrate with food and drink specials and lots of giveaways! For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/MonteAlbanMexicanRestaurantBlairsville/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf

If Cinco de Mayo celebrations don’t really appeal to you, we have a variety of other options to enjoy your Friday evening:

  1. Kilted Golf Classic: The Blairsville Scottish Festival & Highland Games hosts a golf tournament annually known as the Kilted Golf Classic. However, no kilts are required to play, they are simply encouraged. The event is held at the Old Union Golf Course beginning at 11am with a tee time of 1pm. Enjoy food and prizes and lunch from Chick-fil-A. For more information, please follow this link: http://blairsvillescottishfestival.com/golf-classic/
  2. Girls Night Out: Enjoy one stop shopping at The Hackney Warehouse. Grab your girl friends for a fun night out while supporting local vendors. The event begins at 5pm with yummy food and drinks available. Don’t forget that Mother’s Day is coming up so this is the perfect opportunity to find something for Mom! For more information, please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/2064447500448802/
  3. Cruise In to the Farmers Market: The Blairsville Cruisers have big hearts and cool cars. Head over to the Union County Farmers Market from 4pm-7pm for music, food, trophies, door prizes, and of course some of the coolest rides in Northeast Georgia. For more information, please follow this link: http://blairsvillecruisers.com/
  4. Reservoir Dogs @ Copperhead Lodge: If you’re not really in the mood for mariachi then maybe some good ‘ol classic rock will get your toes tapping and your hands clapping. Not only does Copperhead Lodge feature a full restaurant and bar, but there is also lodging on site. For more information, please follow this link: http://www.thelodgeatcopperhead.com/index.cfm?content=1&Menu=1
  5. Old Courthouse Concert: It’s time for the summer concert season to begin in The Old Courthouse on the Square in Blairsville.  They have secured local resident and Hiawassee native, Alan Kendall for the first concert on Friday, May 5th, at 7:00 PM. Alan’s music is steeped in ministry, but he also performs a wide variety of musical styles from traditional and contemporary country to popular standards.  He easily presents a clean, family-oriented variety program for all ages. The summer concerts are presented by the Union County Historical Society as a public service and to keep alive the tradition of music in The Old Courthouse,  There is never an admission charge to the concerts.  Voluntary contributions to the maintenance fund are always welcomed and appreciated.

There is always something going on in the mountains from the peace and solitude of nature to events all around town. Keep up with the latest happenings by signing up for weekly events e-newsletters that will be delivered to your inbox every Monday morning by Clicking Here, or bookmark our event calendar and check back often: http://members.visitblairsvillega.com/events/calendar/2017-05-02

 

blairsville-d839e793

3 Questions with Commissioner Lamar Paris

Commissioner Lamar Paris is a very visible figure in Blairsville-Union County as he has served as the Union County Commissioner for the last 16 years and counting. As someone born and raised in the area, Commissioner Paris has seen the County grow and develop over time and works to continually improve his hometown for the better. We caught up with Commissioner Paris to get his thoughts on where Blairsville-Union County has been and where he’d like to see it go in the future.

As the Union County Commissioner and a lifelong resident of Blairsville-Union County, you have seen a lot of change and development in the area over the years. How do you feel that this growth has affected Blairsville-Union County?
As a 9-year-old riding my bicycle to town every day, to gathering with friends in the summer on Wellborn Mountain, to hunting and playing all day, it was a wonderful place to be raised.  Unfortunately, almost everyone was poor because there were so few employment opportunities.  Many people had to leave for Michigan and other areas of the United States to find work.

So, while everyone may not agree, I feel the growth that has happened in our County has mostly been positive. There are more jobs now, a great hospital, a great school system, and exceptional recreation opportunities which would not have been possible if there had been no growth over the years. This allows more people to grow up here and then stay and raise their own families here also.  

Blairsville-Union County is a place that supports businesses that support the community. What would you recommend to current or prospective business owners in the area looking to get involved in the community?
I would recommend they join one of our exceptional community service organizations and participate from a business perspective. By doing this, business owners can meet others who can assist with their business or with simply getting to know our community. We are a very newcomer friendly community and welcome new residents and businesses. In addition to joining a civic organization newcomers can join Butternut Creek Golf Course, boat and fish on Lake Nottely, or simply enjoy the many miles of trails to better understand our community and its citizens.

What would you like to see happen in Blairsville-Union County in the next 5-10 years?
I would like to see Blairsville and Union County continue on the path we are currently following. If a community is not growing, it is usually dying, so progress is part of a vibrant community. Naturally, we hope growth is steady so that it does not overwhelm our infrastructure, but continuing to provide jobs and better employment opportunities should always be part of the focus. At the same time, we do not want to destroy what makes people want to move to Union County and the City of Blairsville. We are blessed with over 50% of our land being owned by the National Forest or TVA which is a real advantage in helping maintain a rural atmosphere as we continue to grow.

 

Areal-TownAndMnts

The State of Tourism in Blairsville-Union County: Part 2

In 2016, the Tourism Division of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce began the implementation of the Community Rebranding project. A well-rounded and detailed plan was designed and ready for execution. There are many parts and pieces that go into re-branding a community. Internally, all of our literature and collateral needed to be updated. Some of these include name tags, business cards, signature tags and promotional pieces like t-shirts, hats, and pens. We also updated the Visitor’s Guide and postcards that are sent out to all of the Welcome Centers around the state, other Chambers, and to leads that we receive from advertising.

Externally, there was a mandatory refresh of our website. From color scheme to layout and verbiage, an overhaul was completed in early May. Filming began for seven videos highlighting three of our local entrepreneur success stories: Sunrise Grocery, Paradise Hills, and Lamin-X, three highlighting our community’s assets: Mountains, Lakes, Families, and one commercial. We increased our presence in printed publications with messages geared towards enjoying our natural resources like Helton Creek Falls, Vogel State Park, the Appalachian Trail, Lake Nottely, etc. We proudly shared information about our many festivals and the fine dining, shopping and lodging establishments located within Union County.

We had a few “firsts” in 2016. Blairsville-Union County ventured into outdoor marketing with our first ever billboards. We also debuted our first TV commercial through Comcast in the Roswell and Cherokee markets which was aired more than 4,400 times over 22 networks including Fox news, Bravo, ESPN, HGTV, CNBC, CNN and more. Also new was the opportunity to host the Cabella’s crew at they spent three weeks here doing a photo shoot for the 2016 fall catalogue. Not only did they contribute to our economy by renting cabins, buying gas and groceries, eating at our restaurants and shopping in our stores, they also used local children and dogs as models as well as local residents’ bass boats, drift boats and canoes.

Some other notable successes include our community being designated as “Four for the Future” for Georgia Trend. We hosted renowned travel writer Bill Vanderford who experienced our community and wrote a great article in Lakeside on our behalf. Additionally, we had a media request picked up for Roadside Attractions which featured the World’s Largest Amish Chair at Owl Town Market and four films/tv shows filmed in our area; The Hunted, Moonshine Still, Beacon Point, and Logan Lucky.

Our statistical numbers have soared as well this year. Phone calls to the Chamber increased more than 22%, visitors to the Chamber increased more than 39%, and our website hits increased by more than 50%! Additionally, the quantity of leads we send out to prospective visitors increased by 89% and our social media presence saw a whopping 180% increase!

In Part 3 we will discuss why it is important to advertise our community. For more information about the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, call 706-745-5789 or go to VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.

SMA-Lake Nottely

The State of Tourism in Blairsville-Union County: Part 1

If you remember, in 2015, Union County along with the City of Blairsville, Union County Economic Development, Downtown Development Authority, and the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce procured the professional services of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government to develop a new Branding position for our community. Through an in-depth process including a full market analysis and public input, it was determined that there are two target markets we are wanting to invite into our area. The first key market segment is Fast Track Families.  This is demographic is defined as: Upscale Middle Age with Kids. With their upscale incomes, numerous children, and spacious homes, Fast-Track Families are in their prime acquisition years. These middle-aged parents have the disposable income and educated sensibility to want the best for their children. They buy the latest technology with impunity: new computers, DVD players, home theater systems, and video games. They take advantage of their rustic locales by camping, boating, and fishing. Secondly, the focus is entrepreneurs/small business. Entrepreneurship is defined as someone who exercises initiative by organizing a venture to take benefit of an opportunity and, as the decision maker, decides what, how, and how much of a good or service will be produced. To be concise, the goal is to have a younger family demographic move in and have small businesses creating jobs simultaneously.

The next step was to create an internal mission statement and an external tagline and logo. The Positioning Statements guide our marketing and operating decisions. Our Positioning Statement reads: The growing entrepreneur or small business owner can escape to a thriving community surrounded by natural beauty.  Blairsville-Union County offers everything you need to grow your family and your business–– delivering strong business support, a top five school system, and endless community and recreational amenities.  The growing entrepreneur can escape, discover, and thrive in Blairsville-Union County.  A tagline is a succinct phrase situated under or alongside your logo that communicates a single but powerful brand message designed to resonate strongly with an intended audience. #BelieveIt

Arriving in Blairsville always makes one stop and say “I can’t believe this.” Ice Climbing, the Appalachian Trail, an airport in the valley, near a big casino, new businesses opening every week, unparalleled views, moonshine, wine & grits, high speed fiber optic cable, Farmers Market, trails, a Georgia Top 5 School system, an award-winning hospital, a preserved and growing downtown, golf, farm to table, lakes, streams, headquarters for a large bank, friendly people. This list goes on.  Well, it is not unbelievable. In fact, all you have to do is believe it.  All this can be your story as you grow a business, plant your family, expand your opportunity, and improve your life.  Blairsville – Union County.  Believe It.

Part 2 will recap the implementation of the rebranding project. For more information about the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, call 706-745-5789 or go to VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.

Photo Courtesy of Pet City USA

Pet Friendly Blairsville!

In Blairsville-Union County we are firm believers that pets are family too. In fact, we have a whole dog park here for Fido to run around and enjoy! Located at Meeks Park, next door to North Georgia Technical College, is a section of park just for you and your four-legged family members to enjoy. Not only does the park include a little over one mile of walking trails that meander along the banks of Nottely River, but there is also an off-leash area that is completely fenced in with two pens and a state-of-the-art doggie drinking fountain! Clean-up bags are always available at dispensers throughout the park. Meeks Dog Park is an ideal place to have doggie play dates or to work on socializing your pup. I mean let’s face it, dogs need social lives too!

Fortunately, several of our local business owners are also pet friendly! There are sixteen lodging partners that welcome your pets. Michael and Louise Jasmin of Alpine Cabins stated “We realize that our guests’ pets are members of their families, and we treat them as such.  It is important to us to make their pets feel as welcome and valued as their two-legged parents!  Since we are both pet lovers ourselves, this is easy to do!” At Paradise Hills Resort and Spa their four-legged guests are greeted with special dog blankets and delicious cookies!

We are proud to have six pet friendly restaurants in and around Blairsville-Union County. Michaelee’s Italian Life Café loves for guests to bring their precious pups with them. They provide clean doggie bowls and lots of attention! When you’re in the mood for some delicious barbecue, Jim’s Smokin’ Que welcomes four-legged family members to dine on the porch. There is also porch dining at Monet’s, Cabin Coffee, and The Hole in the Wall.

There are a lot of fun things to do with your pets in Blairsville-Union County as well. Maybe take a hike up to Brasstown Bald with your pooch or rent a pontoon boat from North Georgia Watersports where the whole family can enjoy beautiful Lake Nottely. Maybe wine tastings are on your list of activities. Most area wineries allow pups on their patios and Odom Springs Vineyards even keeps a jar of dog treats just for your traveling companions.

If you are planning an evening out or if you are taking a day trip to another close by mountain town, either Bunker Hill Kennels or Pinecliff Boarding Kennels can help you out. If you aren’t inclined to board them Home Sweet Home In-Home Pet Sitters will come by your cabin or home and take care of them in the comfort of your own space. Of course, if needed, there are two great veterinarians in town, Union County Pet Hospital or Blairsville Animal Hospital.

Don’t have a pet yet, but are thinking about getting one or two or three? We encourage you to check out The Humane Society’s Mountain Shelter or the Whiskers Project for canines and felines. If your interests are a little more exotic than dogs and cats, you should check out Pet City USA for a variety of options from reptiles to canaries.

For more information about pet friendly locations in Blairsville-Union County or contact information for any of our businesses, please stop by The Welcome Center located in the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road, call 706-745-5789, email tourism@blairsvillechamber.com or visit us online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com.

Photo Courtesy of Paradise Hills

Photo Courtesy of Paradise Hills

Photo Courtesy of Alpine Cabins

Photo Courtesy of Alpine Cabins

Entrepreneur Quiz

Entrepreneur Quiz

Interested in owning your own business? Great! We’re here to help. But before you start on business plans and logos, there are some things you should know. Entrepreneurship is more than just a career move, it’s a lifestyle. Being a business owner has several wonderful advantages, but there are very real risks and sacrifices as well.

Want to know if business ownership is right for you? While we can’t tell you the answer to that, we have put together a little self-assessment quiz to help point you in the right direction. Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 within the guidelines of each questions and, remember, be honest!

Can you handle stress and uncertainty?
10 = The not-knowing serves as extra motivation.
1 = You panic when you’re not sure what your lunch plans are.

Are you a hard worker?
10 = You like to get things done right the first time, no matter how long it takes.
1 = You tend to shoot for the bare minimum in terms of effort.

Are you a leader?
10 = People seem to naturally follow your lead most of the time.
1 = You prefer to take orders and not be out front.

Are you a self-starter?
10 = You don’t need outside motivation to get something done, you just get started.
1 = You always need more than a little push to accomplish something.

Do you work well with others?
10 = You are always looking for opportunities to meet & get to know people.
1 = You avoid meeting new people at all costs.

Are you responsible?
10 = You prefer to be the one responsible for getting results and are OK with taking the blame if things don’t go well.
1 = You’d prefer not to be in the “hot seat” when it comes to responsibility.

Can you persevere through difficulty?
10 = You don’t give up until you’ve met your goals.
1 = You look for a way out when things don’t go so well.

Are you organized?
10 = You are always well-prepared and have things planned out several steps ahead.
1 = You typically are not very prepared and are usually surprised by what happens next.

Total up your scores and see where you land:
70 – 80: Entrepreneurship is definitely for you, you probably started yesterday anyways.
50 – 69: Business ownership is something you should seriously consider. Just a few minor things to work on.
30 – 49: You have some real work to do on your weak areas, but you’re certainly capable of succeeding it if it’s important to you.
Under 30: Owning a business may not be your calling.

chris

4 Questions with Chris Wadle

Chris Wadle is the Founder and CEO of Lamin-X and Blairsville-Union County’s Chamber Board Chair. We were able to get his insight into running a successful business, maximizing chamber membership, and more!

As a business owner and Chamber Board Chair, you have a unique perspective of how Blairsville-Union County can help business owners achieve their goals. What are some things business owners can do to maximize their membership with the Chamber and relationship with the community?
Achieving goals! That is the key thing for business owners to always have “in their back pocket”. Knowing what they want their business to look like in the most ideal situation and all current goals achieved. Do they want their business to be just one small boutique on the square that provides a small income and a couple part-time employees, a professional service company is only one person that serves this community only, or a manufacturer that wants unlimited potential with dozens of employees? Every business is different with different goals.  Knowing what is wanted from the business can help be a guide into how best utilize the Chambers benefits.  

The Chamber has many events throughout the year that have low-cost sponsorship and advertising opportunities that help with local brand recognition. Which goes a long way here in our tight knit community. These events also allow for excellent networking opportunities with many movers and shakers in the local business community. While it can be a bit awkward and uncomfortable at first, it gets easier the more it’s done and a world of opportunities can begin to open up. One crucial part of running a business is always working on the business, not in it. Which means time has be allocated for learning and development. The Chamber Business Break-out each month is essential to help develop the skills needed to be a successful business owner. A good business person is always learning. These are just a few things that being a Chamber member gives access to that can reap rewards and help to achieve goals.       

What are some things you would like to see happen in the Blairsville-Union County Business Community as well as in the community at-large?
I would love the business community to naturally think of the Chamber as their primary go-to source for business development and problem solving. As mentioned in the previous question, all too often business owners spend all of their time working in their business and not on it. It is lonely sometimes when running a business, so we need all the help we can get. Personally, I feel the Chamber’ role should be to help fill that void and be the main support for Members as they work on their business. By promoting tourism, business development tools, and a resource to help find you the right person to solve business problems, etc… We have to remember that we are all together here in a very small, rural community. We have to lean and support on each other to help us reach personal, business, and community goals.

What are your recommendations for first steps for someone interested in starting or moving a business to Blairsville-Union County? Are there things that these individuals should have ready to roll on their end?
Commitment and Motivation! If you have a strong desire to start a new business here, or to move your business to one of the best places in the USA then you need to commit and motivate to it. Make a conscientious decision to that idea and dream, then convince yourself 100% that it’s a done deal. “I am doing this!”. Establish the goals and then work on it each and every day. Become a Chamber member to get access to other Members that can help you achieve your goals.  When I decided to move my business here, I became a Chamber member through which I was directed to the Union County Development Authority to help me find the ideal location for my new building. This also opened up the opportunity to find low-interest loans through non-banking institutions. Through the networking opportunities with the Chamber, I was able to meet and find a solid team of people to help me accomplish my business and personal goals. All the while helping them achieve theirs. That is the best part about living here is the positive impact that others have on you and vice versa.

What is your idea of a “perfect weekend in Blairsville”?
Almost every weekend seems to be a perfect weekend when living here in Blairsville! After my end of the day on Friday, I love to enjoy a nice dinner with beautiful wife and daughter here at one of the many great restaurants we have. A Saturday would consist of a nice airplane ride out of our awesome local airport to sight-see our beautiful mountains from the sky. Then walk around downtown to check out how the local shops are doing. Then some play-time at Meeks Park with my daughter. A Sunday would be a great time to take a nice drive on the back roads and do some hiking and waterfall seeing on one of the many trails. Then finish it off with some homemade grilled pizza on Sunday night at home while overlooking the mountains and town lights.