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.

fishing at vogel_credited

Spring Break Adventure Agenda

It’s Spring Break season, and there’s no better place for your spring break adventures than Blairsville-Union County! From exploring the Greater Outdoors to experiencing all of the food, culture, and shopping that Blairsville has to offer, we’ve got everything you need for the perfect spring break trip. Ready to book your mountain getaway? Great! Here are just a few things that should make your Spring Break Adventure Agenda…

Brasstown Bald
Get an unforgettable view of four states from Georgia’s highest peak. Learn more about Brasstown Bald here.

Vogel State Park
Enjoy swimming, fishing, hiking, paddle boats, and more at Vogel. Learn more about Vogel State Park, and other parks in our area here.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Union County boasts the only covered portion of the famous Appalachian Trail. You can also hike to the peak of Blood Mountain or brave one of the many other connecting trails. Learn more about hiking and other outdoor activities in Blairsville-Union County here.

Disc Golf
Play 18 holes of Frisbee Golf at Meeks park’s excellent 18-hole course. Learn more here.

Eat Well
Dine at one of Blairsville’s many amazing restaurants. There’s something to please every palette, from traditional southern food to fine dining! Browse listings and see a map of restaurants in the area here.

Waterfalls
We have many waterfalls here in Blairsville-Union County, like Helton Creek Falls and Wolf Creek Falls, to name a few. Learn more about our waterfalls and where to find them here.

Horseback Riding
Riders of all ages and levels can experience the countryside on horseback. Find out more about riding and a listing of stables here.

Shop ‘til You Drop
Blairsville offers a unique shopping experience, from local artisans to designer duds! Plan your shopping trip here.

As you can see, Blairsville-Union County offers something for everyone! This little list is just the tip of the iceberg, so call us today at 877-745-5789 or visit us online to learn more about all the fun your family can get into over spring break!

 

What “Fiber Network” Means for your Business

Technological advancements and innovations in today’s society are constantly reshaping the way business is conducted around the world. With a growing reliance on software and cloud services to run day-to-day operations, it is imperative that businesses have a way to stay current and keep pace with these advancements. As a Georgia Gigabit Community, Blairsville promotes economic development in the region by offering business owners a 100% fiber network that will help you succeed in both the local and global marketplace. A fiber network means speed, large bandwidth and a host of other benefits that will help you establish and grow your business.

Speed and Productivity
Internet speed is critical for every business. Fiber networks allow users to download and process data at much faster rates than standard cable internet. According to a Sandisk study, waiting around for slow internet connections can cost employees up to a week of productivity every year. Such an impact on productivity can cause a significant drop in potential revenue. With a fiber network, your online training, presentations and other downloadable material would be processed at speeds well above the national average.

Bandwidth and Latency
It is common for businesses to require a large bandwidth that can accommodate running multiple cloud services at once, web conferencing, or playing high quality video. A fiber network is the best way to guarantee that you can run all of these services without sacrificing valuable time or quality due to long delays and latency issues. Latency issues become nearly negligible due to the speed of fiber networks. For your business, this means quicker processing and web surfing, resulting in increased productivity for your employees.

Small Town, Global Marketplace
In Blairsville, business owners don’t have to sacrifice the comforts of a small town for access to major markets. In addition to our central location to four major cities, Blairsville’s fiber network can help you establish yourself in the growing online global market, making it easier to reach new clientele both near and far. Fiber networks are also more weather and region resistant than regular cable internet. This means fewer disruptions in service, even in a secluded area or during the threat of inclement weather.

Fiber networks are growing all over the U.S. The technology is state-of-the-art and gives businesses a useful advantage over competitors. These networks are a secure way to increase productivity, help to grow your business, and offer a cost-effective solution to troublesome internet problems. With the help of our fiber network, you can watch your business grow in a city that is constantly promoting economic development and helping businesses to succeed.

safeguard

Entrepreneur Success: Safeguard Lock & Vault

Here in Blairsville-Union County, we take pride in our area’s unique affinity for fostering the perfect work/life balance. We offer all of the tools and amenities necessary for businesses to grow and expand without sacrificing all of the things families need to thrive and flourish. With features including tax incentives, a cutting edge fiber network for optimal internet performance, a wide variety of options for business locations, and much more, entrepreneurs and small business owners alike can set up shop in an area primed for growth. We’re also a tight-knit community that has just as much to offer a growing family as it does a growing business, like a top-rated school system, high-quality healthcare, and plenty of fun parks, festivals, and events for kids and parents alike to enjoy and explore.

Some businesses are built to be passed down from one generation to the next, and there’s no better place for “the family business” than Blairsville! One great example in our area is the Sherman family, the hardworking, but fun loving, family behind Safeguard Lock & Vault. Since the beginning of their business in Blairsville-Union County they have enjoyed serving the small businesses and residents nestled in this friendly community. Mrs. Jenny Sherman says “the business environment in Union County has allowed our business to flourish and it has been rewarding meeting new people and giving back to the community that has welcomed us with open arms.” Mr. Brad Sherman is proud to teach his trade to their son, Nick, and can’t think of a better place to raise his family and grow his business.

If you want to put down roots in a place where your family and your business can thrive, look no further than Blairsville! To learn more about starting or moving a business to Blairsville, contact the Chamber today at 877-745-5789 or visit http://www.visitblairsvillega.com/business/.

 

Hiking3_credited

Hiking the Appalachian Trail in Blairsville

It’s impossible to walk in the woods and be in a bad mood at the same time. Fortunately for us, Union County has a plethora of hiking trails to choose from. You can choose from moderate trails like those in our beautiful Meeks Park, the new Nottely Dam Reservoir Trails, or the scenic trail down to Helton Creek Falls. You may also choose more strenuous hikes like the Duncan Ridge Trail, the Arkaquah Trail, or the Coosa Backcountry Trail. The most famed trail, The Appalachian Trail, also crosses through Union County at Woody Gap and Neel Gap. In fact, the only covered portion of the white blaze 2,181 mile trail passes right through the structure of Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi.

Blairsville-Union County was designated an Appalachian Trail Community in March of 2011. This designation recognizes our community as one that is committed to promoting and protecting the AT and are neighborly to those who trod the Trail. A core group of volunteers have been working hard on several projects including compiling a FREE Union County Hiking Guide, a FREE Union County History Guide, and most recently a project showcasing the History of the AT in North Georgia which is displayed on a kinetic sculpture at Mountain Crossings created by Blairsville’s own local artist, Al Garnto.

In preparation for the hiking season this spring, Mountain Crossings is preparing for their Thru Hiker Kick Off party on Saturday, February 25th and everyone is invited!  Festivities will include bluegrass music from 1 pm to 5 pm, a gear raffle, hot dogs on the grill with all the fixin’s, a S’more making station, face painting and a scavenger hunt for the kids, unique photo ops, gear rep booths and much more! Proceeds from the gear raffle go to funding the Appalachian Trail History Project in Union County as well as Disaster Relief Efforts in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevier County, Tennessee. Raffle tickets are only $10 and enter you into a chance to win gear or bundles of gear ranging from daypacks, t-shirts, Keen hiking shoes, water bottles, stickers and much, much more. Tickets can be purchased at Mountain Crossings in advance and on the day of the event or at the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce. Tip: car pool with your friends and family, parking is limited.

For more information about your business becoming an AT Community supporter or to pick up a Union County History or Hiking Trail Guide please stop by the Welcome Center located in the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road, call 706-745-5789, or visit us online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com.

 

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Three Ingredients for the Perfect Romantic Weekend in Blairsville

With Valentine’s day coming up next week, now is the time to start planning your romantic mountain getaway in Blairsville, GA. Whether you are a couple seeking a relaxing spa day, or you’re looking to catch some outdoor action together, Blairsville has the right accommodations, activities and eats for you and your Valentine. We’ve put together a list of the top three things you need to ensure a romantic Valentine’s weekend.

A Romantic Retreat
Dotting the beautiful mountain scenery all throughout Blairsville are clusters of cozy cabins and relaxing resorts. For a romantic Valentine’s Day stay, we recommend the Your Home in the Woods Bed and Breakfast. Perfect for couples wishing to get off the grid for a few days, this B&B is the perfect place to curl up with a book and wish for snow, and of course, a delicious hot breakfast is provided. For couples seeking romantic scenery, the cabins at 2’s Company Farm Creek and Cabins have a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside making staying in or venturing out a sightseeing adventure.

A Relaxing Stay
After checking in, start to unwind and treat yourself to a spa day or wine tasting. Odom Springs Vineyards has a vast selection of award winning wines, perfect for an afternoon of sampling. Pamper yourself at Paradise Hills, Resort and Spa with a couples massage, and then enjoy their “Couples Crush Celebration” for a night of great music and delicious food. When you make your reservation with Paradise Hills, make sure to ask about the Touch of Romance package to make your stay even more special! The Copperhead Lodge also offers premier lodging and will be hosting a “Saxy” Valentine’s Day Special featuring saxphonist Michael Hulett.

Delectable Dining
Blairsville has great local restaurants for you to enjoy the perfect meal with your Valentine. For a warm breakfast, visit Hole in the Wall for delicious down-home cooking. Hole in the Wall is a Blairsville staple, and was even voted the No. 1 Cafe in the city. Come lunchtime, have a casual meal at the Aviator Cafe, and make sure to try one of their signature sandwiches or smoothies! To satisfy a sweet tooth, the G&G Bakery and Cafe has an assortment of fresh donuts and goodies to snack on. When evening rolls around, and it’s time for a more romantic atmosphere, we recommend Michalee’s Italian Life Caffe. This Italian restaurant is known for its flavorful pasta dishes and gourmet meals and is a perfect way to end your day of relaxation.  

Call 877-745-5789 or visit http://www.visitblairsvillega.com/tourism/ for more ideas and information on how to have the best romantic getaway possible in beautiful Blairsville, GA!