Category Archives: Blairsville-Union County

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Don’t Let The Groundhog Get You Down!

America’s smallest, furriest weathermen may have given us a gloomy forecast of 6 more weeks of winter, but that doesn’t bother us in Blairsville-Union County! There’s still plenty to do for every member of the family in our mountain paradise, even in the cold winter months. From outdoor activities like winter hiking and geocaching to more indoor fun like winery and distillery tours and spas, there’s never a dull moment in Blairsville! Need to fight those winter blues with some comfort food? There are plenty of excellent restaurants to choose from, from good ole’ southern cooking to farm-to-table sophistication.

Learn more about everything going on this winter at our Winter Activities page!

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How To Set Good Quarterly Goals

If you are a business owner, or a decision maker at any level of a business, you understand the need to set attainable goals for the year. In fact, you probably already set your 2018 goals before the end of last year. A great way to make lasting headway toward meeting your yearly goals is to make quarterly goals. Here are some tips for making measurable and realistic quarterly goals:

Take A Good Look Back
A great place to start is in the recent past, the last quarter. Examine both the highs and the lows your business experienced, since both success and failure can be great teachers, as a way of figuring out what to keep doing or do differently in the next quarter. Great questions to ask are “What made this go so well (or go so poorly)?”, “What can we do differently to prevent this outcome (or maintain this success) in the future?”, “How can our experiences this past quarter push us toward our annual goals?”

Get Your Priorities Straight
Figure out what goals are most important to achieving your larger-scale mission. Make a list of everything you would like for your business to achieve in the coming quarter. Then, go through the list and mark each item as a first, second, or third priority. After that, assign each of these priorities to a specific person (or people) on your team.

Keep Everyone Accountable
Establishing accountability for yourself and your team members is crucial to meeting your quarterly (and larger scale) mission(s). Make a weekly breakdown of who is supposed to achieve what and how. Hold meetings to measure the progress and create a visual (like a chart or graph) illustrating how much of each objective has been completed. This way, you and your team can see the progress being made and identify trouble spots while there’s still time to make corrections.

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Blairsville Love Connection

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you may be looking for a fun retreat for you and your special someone. Well look no further, because lovers and visitors alike can unplug, unwind and unite with each other while exploring the untouched, natural beauty of Blairsville-Union County! Nestled in the heart of the Chattahoochee National Forest, amidst North Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, lovebirds can take advantage of outdoor adventure and unique attractions in a calm and refreshing environment away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

With gorgeous winter mountain scenery on full display, Blairsville is the perfect setting for couples seeking a getaway. This authentic pre-Civil War mountain community is only a two- to three-hour drive from cities like Atlanta, Ga., Chattanooga, TN, and Greenville, S.C. The many cabins, B&B’s and cabin resorts offer city amenities in a country setting. Couples can enjoy relaxing in a hot tub after exploring waterfalls or taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail. There is no better place to make a wish under the stars and take in the beautiful mountain sky than from Georgia’s highest peak – Brasstown Bald. Couples may decide to propose a toast to their rekindled future at a local winery or moonshine distillery or just enjoy each other’s company sitting by the fire in a cozy cabin.

Outdoor activities are plentiful and culture and heritage run deep. Whatever you seek, the mountains will provide. Blairsville-Union County is the perfect destination to rekindle and strengthen a couple’s romantic bond.

Information: Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, 1-877-745-5789, www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com; or contact Tobie Chandler directly at tourism@blairsvillechamber.com.

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Entrepreneur Success: Panel Built

Blairsville-Union County is the perfect place for your business and family to thrive with an ideal location and business-friendly environment. Hear why local business Panel Built, Inc. continues to choose Union County for their home.

Learn more about starting or moving a business to Blairsville-Union County at www.visitblairsvillega.com/business/.

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In Business with Your Kids

Lots of aspiring entrepreneurs come in pint size packages. Children have ideas about building a better mousetrap, and as adults, we have a tendency to pat them on the head and remark about the cleverness of their idea. What would happen if you explored that idea with your child?

Here’s what one family of four did as a summer project. Their 9 year old daughter had made a portable herb garden out of recycled materials for her end-of-year 4th grade Science project. Her Mom saw a good deal of potential in the project. She knew that kids are great at cut and paste, so with a little extra training, they could be taught to assemble. They began by recycling 16 ounce green tinted plastic soda bottles. They then purchased a $25 bottle cutting tool from a large online retailer.

Next, they invested in old barn boards that they purchased for a song from a local online yard sale. They purchased herb seeds and potting soil and took a box of Dixie cups and began their herb plantings. Dad did the cutting of the plastic bottles as well as cutting the barn wood in appropriate size pieces. The two youngsters were in charge of the planting, marking, and care of the herbs in the Dixie cups. Mom then sanded the backs of the boards, added a hanger, and attached the cut bottles in a decorative fashion onto the boards. When the plants were at a healthy size, Mom and the kids replanted them into the bottles on the boards. They went to their local Farmer’s Market on Saturday and sold out that day. They were now in the portable herb garden business. Customers went crazy for the idea of hanging this rustic barn wood on their back porch, and having an herb garden all ready to go.

Mom kept track of the time invested, as well as the material costs. The four of them had 68 hours into the project, including their day at the Farmers Market. Their material costs were $89, including the cutting tool. That day they sold the 50 portable herb planters that they brought to Market, at an average price of $18 each or a gross profit of $900. With a net profit of $811, it was as if each of them made $12 an hour for their efforts. Now imagine how the ideas started flowing as they headed home that evening. How could they expand this concept? They say the children had the best ideas, and were so invested in the project it was hard to get them to focus on their schoolwork again, come fall.

When considering what business you want to develop, don’t just consider how much time it will take away from your family, but more importantly consider how you can engage the family in the process. The learning experience will only be exceeded by the strengthening of family ties as you take on the new challenges together. Your children will also begin to develop the skills to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Our Chamber is proud to annually host the “Youth Leadership Union”, whose mission is to develop the knowledge and leadership skills of young people in our County so they may confidently become our leaders of tomorrow.  For more information about this program, visit our website.

Back to Dream

 

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Top 10 things to do in Blairsville-Union County for 2018

1. Eat collard greens & black eyed peas
After all, it’s a southern tradition. Eat these as your first meal for the New Year and you will increase your luck and prosperity for the year ahead. Let the Chamber connect you with local farmers so all your meals are sure to be fresh.

2. Hike Brasstown Bald
Experience the wonders of nature at 4,784 feet above sea level. Get your blood pumping and oxygen flowing through your lungs with this moderate difficulty 0.6 mile Summit hike.

3. Wear a kilt at the Scottish Festival
You don’t have to be Scottish to wear a kilt. Find out your tartan colors, enjoy the Highland Games and nosh on some Scottish delicacies the second weekend in June.

4. Fly fish on the Nottely River
Brown trout, rainbow trout, and native trout are abundant in our freshwater mountain streams. Grab some flies and a pole and head out to the headwaters of the Nottely River, Coopers Creek, or Rock Creek for premier trout fishing.

5. Sip Moonshine
You can’t visit the south without tasting our famous moonshine. Grandaddy Mimms’ moonshine recipe has been passed down through the generations since the days of prohibition. Swing by the moonshine museum and learn about the history of this beverage.

6. Take a garden tour at Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center
Meander through a .25 mile loop of The Woodland Medicine Trail and discover numerous woodland wildflowers, herbs, fern and shrubs that were used extensively by Native Americans and early settlers. Then enjoy the Ethnobotanic Gardens containing plants that were harvested and often cultivated by early inhabitants of the region for medicinal, food, and craft uses.

7. Get wet at Helton Creek Falls
A rock slide for the kids and a veil of water to stand behind make Helton Creek Falls a must do activity for the young and young at heart. A short hike allows you to explore the beauty of both the upper and lower falls of Helton Creek.

8. Share a bag of boiled peanuts
Sunrise Grocery on Hwy 129 features world famous boiled peanuts. Grab a bag of this southern delicacy and enjoy with your family and friends.

9. Discover past & present ghosts
History is alive in Union County. With abundant heritage tracking resources at the Union County Public Library, the Historic Courthouse on the Square, and a plethora of cemeteries, exploring your heritage back to the pre-Civil War era is a great way to connect with the past.

10. Sop up some sorghum biscuits
Nothing says Union County like the sweet smell of sorghum syrup cooking. Join the festivities of the Blairsville Sorghum Festival the second and third weekends in October for biscuit sopping, pole climbing, rock throwing, horseshoe throwing, and log sawing fun!

For more information about any of the above or various other activities available in Blairsville-Union County, please contact the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789, online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGa.com, or by visiting the Welcome Center inside the Union County Community Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road.

 

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Creating Fiction and Converting it to Reality

You’ve just finished reading a book of fiction that you were so engrossed in; you just couldn’t put it down. You later wonder how the author created all the characters, the twists and turns, identified the emotions with such depth, she made you weep and laugh, fight for the underdog and kept you guessing as to the ending with every single page.

Writers dream their stories, usually while they are writing them. Rarely do they know where the story will take them. What they do have is a theme. And then they begin to develop characters, sometimes over years of note taking, or maybe just on their way to taking and picking up their kids from school. Waiting in the car line, they can’t stop thinking about these characters; very much like you’ve been imagining the start of your business.

So, let’s take your business that you’ve been envisaging, and let’s write its story. It will be fiction, but based on how you imagine it. Your characters will be you, your family (because they will be impacted every day), your imaginary staff and or collaborators. There will be the people who help fund you (try not to look as the banker as the villain), possibly a landlord, as well.  There will be sales people coming out of the woodwork, so write about the ones you want to deal with. Now, don’t forget to create the kind of customers you want to do business with, who you believe will want to purchase your product or hire your service.

You should have several pages of a legal pad or your word processor filled already with characters. Now try telling the story of how you begin, playing close attention to the details. If you haven’t designed a business plan for your dream, google “businesses plans” and use the outline for your trade type as a guideline to creating your story. What’s most important is that you continually use your dream, your business as you want it to be, as the basis for your story.

Take it through the startup, the first real triumphs, and the disappointments, as well.  As an example, if you start a seasonal business where you and your team go into customers’ homes and take their boxes of Christmas decorations and set it all up, everything from outside lights to the ornaments on the tree, you may find yourself writing about how well received this service is, keeping you and your staff so busy that you realize that there won’t be time for you to set up your own Christmas tree, buy one gift or bake a batch of gingerbread cookies with your family. In business, there are always trade-offs.

You can take the story as far as you would like, but you probably will find yourself cutting from the fiction and heading to reality. You’ll start to fine tune the dream, laying concrete business plans, opening new avenues of possibilities to a line of services that can help your customer base many more times a year than just Christmas. You’ll begin to investigate the options you have for funding, you’ll research the answers to the questions that will arise as you go through this exercise, like the time you googled “pitfalls to a commercial lease”.

The likelihood is that your story will never be published as just that. Yet it very well could be the one important exercise that leads you into converting your dream business into reality. And don’t forget that here at the Chamber of Commerce, we’re a cast of characters just waiting to be an integral part of your success story.

Back to Dream

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Christmas Lights & Displays 2017

‘Tis the season for Christmas lights, one of the most fun family traditions of the season! Looking for the brightest, most festive displays to enjoy this year? Fret not, we have searched hither and yon on Facebook to assemble this list for you! If you have other locations, please share them with us!

Blairsville:
Visit The Browns  and have your kids leave a letter for Santa! Take Old Blue Ridge Highway out past Mulkey Gap. Right on Ed King Road. Just before the solar panel field. Note: if you leave a letter to Santa in the mailbox, you just might receive a reply!

Down the Old Blue Ridge Hwy. Near Reds gas station, you can find The Whites at 10806 Blue Ridge Hwy in Blairsville.

Check out the beautiful Nativity Scene at Stonehenge Assisted Living, located Hwy 129 North towards Murphy, about 7 miles north of Hwy 76/129 intersection.

Come and see Downtown all lit up On the Square & at Season’s Inn Plaza.

You’ll find lots of lights on Murphy Hwy, just past the Owen Glenn entrance.

There’s a beautiful display at The Duckworth’s. Go 129 south to Arkaqua Rd. and take a right on Gene Nix Rd.

Look out for the Jones’ great display located on Jones rd off of Mulkey Gap.

Don’t forget about the display at Meadows of Ivy Log off Hensen Rd.

Misty Mountain Inn & Cottages is getting into the spirit with their new light display. They are located on Town Creek School Road, before you get to Alexander’s on the right.

Last, but not least – Sprayberry’s – 257 Windy Hill Rd in Blairsville. 2nd street past Wendy’s on the left going towards Young Harris. Saturdays from 6:30-9, photo ops with Santa and his sleigh.

 

Morganton:
On certain nights, you just might see Santa at the Williams’ on Forge Mill Road off Hwy 515 across from Cucina Rustica.

Santa can be found on certain nights at Spur 60, between Mineral Bluff and NC State line.

Hiawassee/Young Harris:
Through the town of Hiawassee, but before the School, there are some fantastic displays on Bugscuffle Road. After you see Uhaul & Parker Oil, Bugscuffle is the next road on the left.

There’s a red glow on Scataway Road that’s worth checking out. About 5 minutes past the Towns County School, see sign for Mount Zion Church on left and follow the red glow.

Be sure to visit the display at Panter House, located on the Towns County side of Gumlog.

For lights and much more, go to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Mountain Country Christmas in Lights, Thur, Fri, Sat & Sun, 6-10 PM. Food, music, arts & crafts, hot chocolate and Santa. ($5 per person)

North Carolina:
On Hwy 75, just across the NC/Ga line, you’ll find the lovely display at Penlands.

There’s much to see on Harshaw Road,  near Cherokee Hills Golf Course.

Business Team

Creating A Balanced Team

Let’s play a little mind game, OK? I want you to close your eyes and imagine only the following. You have answered an ad for help wanted. The ad was intriguing, the pay they offered was very competitive, but they never said what the job entailed. When you arrive at the interview, the person you are introduced to escorts you into a room with just an overhead light, a desk and a desk chair. The top of the desk is covered with piles of papers and folders, just in stacks.  Your instructions are simply to sort the piles. When you are done, you should have an idea what the job description should be.  The person exits the room and closes the door.

As you look at the papers you realize that there are everything from recipes on cards, to accounts payable receipts, clipped newspaper articles and stuffed folders without labels. Here’s the one and only question I want you to answer.  What is your instinctive methodology? In other words, do you start to make piles of all like items, a pile of recipes, a pile of folders, and a pile of newspaper clippings?  Or do you start to look at each piece and begin to put the puzzle together as they seem to relate?

Know the answer? Good. Then please read on.

There is no correct answer, by the way. If it seemed natural to you that you begin putting the like items in separate piles to begin the first phase of the task, you are most likely what is referred to as a “Container”.  If your initial impulse is to start piecing the puzzle together with investigating each piece of paper, you are referred to as an “Expander”.  What’s important here is that you need both Expanders and Containers to run a business.

The Containers are your organized, task oriented employees. They implement the ideas and plans of the Expanders. If you just have idea people, but no one to implement the ideas, you have creative chaos. If you only have those implementers, but no new ideas and strategies to be developed, then the ship runs smoothly, but it goes nowhere.

If you are a one man operation, it is of utmost importance that you understand whether you are mostly a Container or an Expander. If you recognize that you are an Expander, then you should begin to look for sub-contractors that will be your creative force. They come up with you ad campaigns, design your t-shirts, and handle your social media.  If you are the creative force, then sub-contract a bookkeeper, someone to come in once a month to do your filing, someone else to maintain the premises, so that your best energies are spent doing what you do best.

If you are now trying to expand your internal staff, this is even a more urgent exercise. Take the staff you currently have and put them through this same scenario. Let them tell you who they are, don’t just use your judgement of them from what you’ve seen so far.  Once you’ve identified the number of Expanders and Containers you have on staff, you have a better idea what to look for when adding to the team.  Maybe you have a position open that you recognize will need an Expander, but you already have too many Expanders on staff. It’s time to move your people around. Put the creative force behind the idea pool and the implementers in the “get it done” pool. Now what position do you have open?

It’s all about the balance. Consider it “Business Yin and Yang”.

Back to Grow

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‘Twas the First Weekend of December…

…and all through Blairsville-Union County there was holiday cheer as far as the eye could see! With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s full speed ahead with Christmas events for the whole family starting this weekend. Kick off your Christmas Season right with parades, caroling, shopping and so much more! Here’s a quick view of some of the events happening in our area this weekend…

Friday, December 1st
Tour of Trees
Blairsville Holiday Stop & Shop

Saturday, December 2nd
Kris Kringle Mountain Market
Christmas Parade
Holiday on The Square
Tour of Trees
Blairsville Holiday Stop & Shop

For a full listing of everything happening in Blairsville-Union County this holiday season, visit our Holiday 2017 page.