Monthly Archives: October 2013


FM13As we approach November 5th, the day when voters in Union County will have the opportunity to cast their ballot on the continuation of the current Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on past SPLOST projects and what they have meant for the tourism industry and therefore in turn, local businesses and citizens.

The existing SPLOST was approved by Union County voters in 2008. Among the projects completed since that time were the construction of the Union County Community Center, now home to the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce; the Farmers Market and Cannery; a Meeks Park expansion; the Covered Horse Arena; and the Library renovation. Each of these projects may be utilized by both residents and visitors to our area. As we all know, visitors bring tourism dollars to our community.

Many may wonder why tourism matters and even go so far as to say that they would rather not have tourists to our area, but allow me to explain why tourism should matter to everyone. In its simplest form, tourism matters because it creates jobs and saves us money. Visitors come to Union County and spend money in local businesses. These businesses collect and remit sales tax. The sales tax helps to pay a significant portion of the important and necessary services that all residents enjoy such as quality roads and bridges and safety services. Additionally, it allows for county resources that we all enjoy, but would not otherwise be available. These items then no longer have to be paid for strictly out of property taxes. Everyone can appreciate lower property taxes.

The decision to vote yes or no for the continuation of the SPLOST is yours. I encourage you to ask the appropriate questions that will lead you to an informed decision. I also want to remind you that while the current SPLOST is in effect, your local purchases in local businesses are one of the easiest and best ways you can show your support for your neighbors, for your community, and for your own well-being.

Blairsville-Union County Chamber Launches New Website

blairsvilleThe Chamber’s website,, has a new look! After several months of restructuring, the Chamber is proud to present our new website with a clean new design and enhanced functionality. Whether you are a Chamber member, a local resident, or a visitor to our area, you are sure to find links to many great resources on

So what’s new? First and foremost, the look and feel of the site has been updated to reflect the wonderful qualities of our community. Web visitors will find beautiful photography throughout the site and easy access to needed information. Residents and visitors can submit photos of their Blairsville-Union County experiences for possible inclusion on our homepage. We now also have a variety of videos that showcase our lovely area and the many great things to see and do. Those looking to spend some time exploring our county will now find ready-to-print seasonal and trip purpose itineraries. A virtual tour of our Welcome Center allows you to experience our beautiful new home at the Union County Community Center. If you haven’t stopped by, be sure to do so soon!

And what stays the same? Members and visitors can still look forward to finding a robust business directory, local business coupons, and the most complete online events calendar around. Quick links to places to eat, shop, play, and stay are found on the homepage. Web visitors can still request brochures and newsletters and live chat with our staff. Local businesses and organizations can also learn more about the services the Chamber offers to members and sign up for chamber membership online.

The new will serve as the virtual front door for Blairsville-Union County. I invite you to take a moment to see all that we have to offer. We look forward to assisting you! In addition to the website, you can communicate with our team by calling 706-745-5789 or me directly at

Waffle House Named Business of the Quarter

The Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that

Monica Keith with Waffle House accepting Business of the Quarter designation.

Monica Keith with Waffle House accepting Business of the Quarter designation.

Waffle House has been chosen as our Business of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of 2013. The Business of the Quarter program was established to recognize outstanding businesses and organizations that go above and beyond to serve the local community.

Waffle House is an active member of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce. Businesses who partner with the Chamber not only do so for the well being of their own organization, but also for the well being of our local community. Waffle House has participated in many Chamber functions such as the Buy Local Weekend and Membership Meetings. They have contributed door prizes and even provided a complimentary breakfast to our members as part of our Member Orientation. Through their membership with the Chamber, Waffle House demonstrates a commitment to support local business.

Waffle House prides itself in serving good food fast. In Blairsville, they also have a very warm and friendly staff, ready to greet you with a smile and serve you a delicious cup of fresh brewed coffee.

When it comes to providing for community organizations, Waffle House has been generous in their support of local nonprofit organizations. They have provided Union County Library with reading rewards for the summer reading program and also participated in the Brian Jordan Foundation baseball camp that allowed Union County kids to improve their skills under the direction of a professional baseball player. Each of these contributions demonstrates their genuine concern for the vitality of Union County.

The Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce congratulates Waffle House on this outstanding recognition. If you would like to nominate our next Business of the Quarter, forms can be obtained at or by contacting the Chamber (706) 745-5789. I can be reached any time at

Leadership Union

Have you ever wanted to learn more about your community?  Who are the leaders behind the scenes?  How are important decisions made and who makes those decisions?  What about the economic structure?  Have you ever wanted to know how to get more involved so that you can become one of those leaders making the important decisions, promoting the community and giving back of your time and talents?  Well, here is your chance. Applications for Leadership Union 2014 are now available.LU Logo

Leadership Union is a program of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce and is chaired this year by Patrick Malone. The program provides participants an opportunity to both learn and develop the skills necessary to be a leader in the community.  Participants are given an overview of city and county operations, are allowed to tour local attractions and businesses, and are equipped with vital information about education, government and charity organizations.

The class of 2014 kicks off with an orientation on Tuesday, January 14 and concludes with a graduation banquet on Tuesday, April 15. Most classes will take place on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30pm with the exception of one day long field trip on Tuesday, March 18. Tuition for the program is $350 for Chamber Members and $550 for Non-Chamber Members. A limited number of partial scholarships will be available.

So, are you ready to gain a broader understanding of community?  Are you prepared to use the information and skills that you will gain from this experience to be a leader in our community?  If so, contact the Chamber office at 706-745-5789 or email Tobie Chandler at for a complete schedule and application. I can be reached directly at

Engage Your Senses This Fall

Observation Deck of Brasstown Bald in the fall

Observation Deck of Brasstown Bald in the fall

Autumn is my favorite season of the year. There are so many wonderful, fun, exciting ways to engage your five senses right here in Union County and enjoy experiences of which city folk can only dream! Here are a few of my suggestions for great autumn activities.

See – Take a ride along any of our scenic byways or mountain roads and delight in the explosion of autumn color – Richard Russell, GA 180, and US 129 South are a few of my favorites. This is a great time of year to make your way to the top of Brasstown Bald and see unmatched natural beauty. Finally, everyone will be able to enjoy the many scarecrows around town as part of our Scarecrow-Ville event.

Touch – Why not take a trip to an alpaca farm and pet these lovable creatures?   You’ll find a great selection of alpaca fiber clothing and accessories to keep you warm as the temperature drops. How about Southern Tree Plantation with their petting zoo and pumpkin patch?

Taste – This will be your last chance to pick up fresh, local produce at the Union County Farmers Market to make your own perfect autumn meal. Contact the Chamber for a list of old time general stores where you’ll find the perfect ingredients to complete your recipe.   Or if you are like me and prefer someone else do the cooking, try one of our many delicious restaurants including our newest Farm To Table restaurant, The Sawmill Place. Stock up on Sorghum Syrup to enhance your morning biscuit or make your way to our local winery or craft beer shop for a sip of the season.

Smell – Stop by a local retailer and pick up your favorite scented candle. The smell of apple or pumpkin pie will lift your mood. Step foot into one of our local bakeries and inhale autumn yumminess!

Hear – This is a great time for music in the mountains. Visit one of our many upcoming festivals – the Indian Summer Festival in Suches, the Sorghum Festival at Meeks Park, and the Fall Hoedown at Vogel State Park. There are concerts each Friday night at the Historic Courthouse on the square or check out our online events calendar for local music events around town.

Be sure to pick up a copy of the North Georgia Farm Trail guide in the Chamber of Commerce/Welcome Center and explore all of the agritourism sites in the area. This is the perfect time of year to get up, get out, and get happy!

For additional shopping, dining, lodging, and attraction information, contact the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789, online at, or me directly at