Monthly Archives: October 2014

The 10 Organizational Myths of Chambers of Commerce – Part 3

hdr-logo-001Myth 8: The Chamber of Commerce handles disputes between local businesses and consumers.

Reality:  There is another entity created for this purpose and it is the Better Business Bureau. The Chamber of Commerce does not offer mediation services or a means to resolve disputes with local businesses. The good news is that studies have found that members of a Chamber of Commerce are more likely to be civic minded, service oriented, and trustworthy. Therefore, consumers can feel more confident in contracting with or purchasing from Chamber members.

Myth 9: The Chamber of Commerce is only beneficial to local business.

Reality: We like to think of ourselves as the local resource for all things Union County. Our Chamber operates the local Welcome Center which means we answer a variety of (and often very interesting) questions. If we don’t know the immediate answer, we usually know someone who does. Therefore, the Chamber serves a much larger purpose for the local community. We are glad to share information with local residents and make suggestions as to great places to eat, play, or buy your next gadget. Bring us your “Flat Stanley,” come pick up an events calendar, check our website for the latest happenings, send us your visitors who are looking for something to do, or sign up for of email updates and local coupons. There are many ways for non business owners to interact with the Chamber, and we welcome the opportunity.

Myth 10: If you’ve seen one Chamber, you’ve seen them all.

Reality: As I travel the State meeting other Chamber Execs and learning about the operations of various Chambers of Commerce, I have found one thing to be certain – no two Chambers are alike. Chambers differ in their organizational structure, their staff’s personalities and experiences, their programs and services offered, and their ability to positively impact their local community and members. I am proud to say that the Blairsville-Union County Chamber is made up of a dynamite staff of knowledgeable employees, a Board of Directors who is in touch with the needs of the local community, and a membership of close to 600 entrepreneurial individuals who care about the greater good. Many times we have received compliments from others who have experienced a variety of Chambers and are overwhelmed by the involvement and activity of our local Chamber and its members.

I hope that this series has better equipped you to understand and utilize the services of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber. Should you have questions, please contact us at 706-745-5789, online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or me directly at president@blairsvillechamber.com.

The 10 Organizational Myths of Chambers of Commerce – Part 2

hdr-logo-001Myth 4: The Chamber’s main focus is downtown businesses.

Reality:  As with Myth #1 from last week, I can understand why there might be confusion on this topic. The public sees us working closely with the Downtown Development Authority and the City of Blairsville and makes an assumption that downtown is our only concern. However, that is not true. Again, we deeply value a strong partnership with these entities and believe that in order to adequately serve our members, we must be “present at the table” when groups such as the DDA and others are meeting and making decisions for the good of the county. What happens in downtown directly impacts what happens countywide. Article after article and study after study will prove this. Therefore, it is correct to assume that we have a genuine interest in downtown, but everything we offer as a Chamber, we offer to all of our members.

Myth 5: The Chamber of Commerce is the same as the Union County Development Authority.

Reality: In Union County, we are fortunate to have two distinct organizations whose purposes, although overlapping, are separate. The Chamber, as mentioned before, is a not-for-profit, member organization whose two main umbrellas of service are assistance with business development through member programs and services and to oversee the tourism efforts of the county as a whole. The Union County Development Authority (UCDA) is a public organization of Union County who seeks to attract development that results in new job opportunities and capital investment. The UCDA works with potential business prospects who are looking to establish or relocate a business in Union County.

Myth 6: I am a nonprofit organization and therefore don’t need the Chamber.

Reality: Now I am not a CPA or an attorney, so don’t hold me responsible for professional advice, but being a nonprofit organization does not mean that you cannot have a surplus of money in your bank account. Having more money means being able to do more good and more boldly carry forth the mission of your organization. Think about some of the largest nonprofit organizations in the U.S. (ex. – American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, and American Cancer Society) and consider their revenues and hence, their impact. Don’t let being a nonprofit fool you in to thinking that publicity, awareness, and connections are not necessary. Besides, as a nonprofit, you will need donors and the support of the local business community. Guess who our other members are?

Myth 7: I will join the Chamber and instantly have a line of new customers waiting for me at my business.

Reality:  Oh, if only it were this easy! While we all dream of a magic wand, magic potion, or magic ball, the reality of running a business is not so simple. The Chamber, like any other advertising avenue, cannot guarantee that customers will immediately contact you and purchase your product or service. What we can guarantee is that we will provide you with a long list of benefits, services, and opportunities to grow your business and make connections with potential customers. The harsh reality is that if you are not offering a competitive product with outstanding customer service, no amount of advertising will make you instantly profitable. When partnering with the Chamber, a lot will happen without you having to lift a finger – website exposure, search engine optimization, welcome center referrals, etc. However, the true value of membership comes, when you utilize the opportunities afforded to you – which include product development and customer service training if needed.

Next week, I will present the final three myths and wrap us this series, so stay tuned. In the meantime, should you have questions regarding the Chamber please contact us at 706-745-5789, online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or me directly at president@blairsvillechamber.com.

The 10 Organizational Myths of Chambers of Commerce – Part 1

hdr-logo-001Myth 1: The Chamber is an entity of the local government.

Reality:  We have a deep respect for and great partnership with our local government. However, the Chamber is its own 501 (c) (6) organization which is an association of persons/members having a common business interest and its purpose is to promote this common business interest. The mission of our Chamber is to positivity impact our community and members by facilitating tourism, economic, and cultural development. Our employees are not county employees. The only tax money we receive is a portion of the local hotel/motel tax which, by law, must be earmarked for tourism advertising and promotion. Therefore, we depend on our membership to support the business programs and services that we are able to provide. Signing up for membership does not mean paying money to the local government. It does mean that you are opening the door for a variety of business services not otherwise afforded to you. If you believe in a thriving economy and prosperity for local business, you are a great candidate for chamber membership.

Myth 2: The Chamber is simply a festival planning organization.

Reality:  While it is true that we play a significant role in helping promote local festivals because festivals equate to increased visitation and increased revenues for local businesses, that is not our only responsibility. A quick look at our program of work will tell you that our organization annually offers a number of networking and educational events for our members to grow and develop their business. This includes training classes, a business expo, buy local events, and business roundtables to name a few. We offer a number of marketing and advertising avenues across a variety of platforms including online, print, mobile, and social media. We also are extremely proud to serve on committees that work for the development of local business. Some examples of community designations we have received over the last few years are Entrepreneur Friendly, Camera Ready, Appalachian Trail Community, and Georgia Work Ready. By partnering with a variety of local and regional entities, we are continuously spreading the word about the positive aspects of Union County and therefore working for the betterment of all who live and conduct business here.

Myth 3: The Chamber is a “clique” to which outsiders don’t belong.

Reality: The Chamber is only as strong as our membership. Therefore, we welcome all businesses, organizations, and individuals who support our mission. Chamber members no doubt share a strong bond. Our members believe that relationships are key to business success and make a conscience effort to support other members. However, time and time again, I have seen new members enter the Chamber and instantly feel the support, connection, and boost that come as part of the membership. Again, if you share our vision of a strong business community, we welcome you into the Chamber.

Stay tuned for more myths surrounding the Chamber of Commerce in next week’s column. In the meantime, should you have questions regarding the Chamber please contact us at 706-745-5789, online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com or me directly at president@blairsvillechamber.com.

Take 5 with Dr. Mark Causey

causeyThis week’s Take 5 is with Dr. Mark Causey, owner of Causey Orthodontics. Dr. Causey has expanded his practice to Blairsville while still operating locations in both Cumming and Flowery Branch.  He has quickly become an enthusiast supporter of our local community and is a proud member of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce. Here are Dr. Causey’s responses to this week’s Take 5 questions.

  1.  What is your job title and what do you do at your company?

I am an orthodontist and own Causey Orthodontics here in Blairsville, GA.  I specialize in correcting the alignment and bite of children and adults.

  1.  Tell us your favorite aspect of your position?

I am very blessed to be able to meet and get to know new people every day.  I love interacting and learning more about our patients and their families.

  1.  Tell us a little bit about your background.

I was born at Union General Hospital in 1981.  Our family later moved to Gainesville, GA where I graduated from East Hall High School.  I attended Duke University and played basketball for Coach K.  I later transferred to University of North GA where I received my BS.  I married my kindergarten classmate Danielle, and I then attended the Medical College of Georgia for dental school and orthodontic residency.  I now have two children and one more on the way:  Carter (5) and McCallan (2). I enjoy playing basketball and fishing.

  1.  What would people reading this be surprised to know about you?

I was majoring in drama while at Duke University.  I also took an Italian Opera class while in college.

  1.  What is one of your favorite quotes?

“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” -Francis Assisi

Dr. Causey and his awesome team can be reached at the Blairsville office by calling 706-745-5090 or emailing info@causeyorthodontics.com. Causey Orthodontics is located at 426 Cleveland Street in Blairsville.

North Georgia Farm Trail

NGFT-LogoAgritourism is a thriving industry in Blairsville-Union County. Our Chamber of Commerce is thrilled to be part of the promotion of so many tremendous assets in Union County. For those who are unfamiliar, agritourism is a beautiful blend of Georgia’s top two revenue generating industries – agriculture and tourism. Some examples of agritourism businesses include farmers markets, u-pick farms and orchards, vineyards & wineries, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and farm-to-table restaurants.

In the summer of 2013, the Chambers of Commerce in Gilmer, Fannin, Union, and Towns counties unveiled the first edition of the North Georgia Farm Trail guide. This pocket guide quickly became a popular reference for all agritourism destinations in the four county area along Georgia Highway 515. Union County listings included places like the Union County Farmers Market, Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center, Southern Tree Plantation, Logan Turnpike Mill, Sunrise Grocery, The Sawmill Place, wineries, horseback riding stables, alpaca farms, and roadside markets. On the heels of our initial success, we have recently unveiled the second edition which has grown to include even more great destinations!

The North Georgia Farm Trail 2014-2015 edition has been expanded in two primary ways. First, the new guide now covers a five county area to include Pickens County destinations as well. The increased distribution throughout Pickens County has proven beneficial for all counties involved. Secondly, the newest edition now includes handmade arts and crafts retail locations. In addition to the over 40 listings for traditional agritourism sites in Union County, we now also have eighteen retail locations listed in Union County alone!

Visitors to our area love to explore the North Georgia Farm Trail, and you will too. Fall is a great time to get out and experience all that this great county has to offer. Please stop by the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center located at 129 Union County Recreation Road to pick up your copy. If you have any questions regarding the North Georgia Farm Trail or other offerings by the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, you may call us at 706-745-5789 or visit our website at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.