Downtown Blairsville now has a great new app that lets you stay connected to everything happening in Blairsville-Union County! Update your calendar with upcoming events, explore all of the restaurants, shopping, and other businesses in the area, learn about some of the local history, and much more! The FREE Downtown Blairsville app is available for download on both Apple and Google. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Blairsville-Union County is widely known as an outdoor destination, and for good reason! There are countless opportunities for outdoor exploration, recreation, and relaxation. With that said, there’s far more to Blairsville than the great outdoors, like our beautiful downtown district. This inviting and thriving area of our town is host to many businesses, shops, restaurants, museums, attractions, and special events while preserving the character and heritage that makes Blairsville so special.
For locals, downtown is a central place in the community to get a coffee, grab a bite to eat, and do business – it’s easy to be on a first-name basis with just about everybody! For tourists, downtown Blairsville boasts fantastic local shops and restaurants as well as museums and historic places just ready to be explored. For businesses, it’s a picturesque centralized location with sites that would suit the needs of several types of businesses and lots of foot traffic. There are also lots of festivals and special events that take place on the Square, including the Downtown Spring Arts, Crafts, & Music Festival, the Memorial Day Parade, Corner Concerts, Outdoor Movie nights, the Sorghum Parade, Hometown Halloween on the Square, the Christmas Parade, and much more. There really is something for everyone!
The revitalization and resurgence of Downtown Blairsville has taken place largely due to the efforts of the Downtown Development Authority of Blairsville. Thanks to the hard work of Program Manager Darren Harper, the DDA Board of Directors, committee chairs, and many amazing community volunteers, Blairsville was recognized as a Georgia Better Hometown in 2007. That spirit of collaboration remains as many of the businesses inhabiting the area share a tight-knit kinship, feeding patronage and business to each other instead of engaging in bitter competition. While our gorgeous Downtown Square is certainly a wonderful area for businesses to thrive and for tourists and visitors to enjoy, it’s also a compelling reminder of how Blairsville-Union County is a community of dedicated individuals and organizations who work together to make our area a wonderful place to live, work, and visit.
Meet Cabin Coffee owners, Wayne and Judy Jolley, one of Blairsville’s business success stories. Having long enjoyed visits to Blairsville, they knew it would be the perfect place to start a new chapter of their lives. Cabin Coffee of Blairsville opened in 2015. The coffee shop and cafe is located in a restored building in the city’s downtown square. What was once the “Old Chevron” station, is now a cozy spot where the community can enjoy hot drinks and food. Read more for the Jolley’s story and their success tips for starting a new business.
Why did you want to start your own business?
I (Judy) worked in breakfast restaurants in high school and college, and always enjoyed the relationships you build with your regular customers. Throughout my years in the business world, I always had the idea in the back of my mind to open a coffee shop. The timing was just right for me to step away from my career and for my husband and I to make this change.
Why did you decide to open Cabin Coffee in Blairsville?
Opening a coffee shop has been a dream of ours for quite some time and we love Blairsville, so making our part time residence a full time home combined very well with the decision to open the coffee shop. Part of our goal was to create a place for community, and for people to gather and feel the hospitality of Blairsville. Blairsville has so much to offer, and we were excited about the revitalization of the downtown area. It all just seemed to come together very well.
We have owned a cabin in Blairsville for a few years. We enjoyed coming to the area to hike, boat and enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. We also have enjoyed the people in the area and found it very easy to transition into making this our full time home. In opening a business here, we were pleased with the pro-business environment. The Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Development Authority, City & County government have all been very supportive. In addition, the infrastructure including the high speed fiber optic network are very helpful for our business.
What are some success tips you can give about starting a new business?
Preparation and planning are very important. We spent a good deal of time researching the economics of the coffee shop business, the demographics and economics of Union County, the procedures necessary to start a new business, etc. It’s important to budget and stick to that budget. There is a good deal of information that can be found online regarding requirements for businesses. It’s important for new business owners to be prepared financially, including having a cash reserve.
In what ways has the community of Blairsville contributed to your success story?
Blairsville has a robust network of small business owners. Everyone has been willing to speak with us and offer their experience to us. There are also organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, which have resources to assist business owners. We have found so many people willing to lend their experiences and expertise to us to help us in decision-making. We also were thrilled with the candidates who applied for jobs when it was time to start hiring for our coffee shop. We found great people and they have become an excellent, dependable team. Between the business environment, the people, and the mountains surrounding Blairsville, we could not have found a better place to open a business.
Change is always hard, and I am on the verge of one such change. My dear friend and colleague, Janet Hartman, has announced that she and her family will soon be relocating full time to South Carolina. I worked closely with Janet while she served as the Downtown Development Authority Program Manager and on our Chamber Board of Directors, and I can tell you that Blairsville-Union County is a better place because of her.
I first met Janet Hartman when she joined the Chamber as a support member in 2006. I was immediately impressed by her ambitious nature and can-do attitude. She intrigued me with her likable personality and interest in the wellbeing of our community. Little did I know at that first encounter that I had just met someone who would eventually become a mentor, confidant, collaborator, and overall true friend.
In 2007 she was employed by the Blairsville Downtown Development Authority. It didn’t take long for the lines of communication between the Chamber and DDA to open and the partnership to begin. Janet and I spent many days together in meetings for the good of the community, at lunch strategizing about ways to grown and improve Blairsville-Union County, and in conversation about all the reasons we love Blairsville-Union County. Her passion for her community was always evident and her accomplishments were proof of that. While many of her activities were considered part of her paying job, it is important to realize that Janet went well beyond her required duties. Many people never realized that Janet was a part-time employee because she volunteered countless additional hours to successfully pull off many projects and events. Among those were the Spring Arts & Crafts Festival, Green Bean Festival, Halloween on the Square, Bluegrass Festival, Christmas on the Square, Great American Clean Up Day, and of course the wonderful new downtown streetscape. Each of these saw tremendous participation and community impact under her direction.
I was given the wonderful opportunity of working even more closely with Janet when she became a member of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in 2009. In the almost 6 years she severed, she held the title of Secretary and chaired both our Tourism and Governmental Affairs Committee. Janet was always quick to offer to serve and followed through on every commitment she made, but even more than that, she always made time for me when I needed support, advice, or simple encouragement. For this, I will be forever grateful.
Outside of her regular job and the many additional hours she dedicated to it, Janet is widely known for her work with the Union County Relay For Life. As a community volunteer she worked diligently to recruit and retain teams for the event, served as the Team Captain for St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, and worked on Daffodil Days which raises additional money to support the American Cancer Society. One would have a hard time quantifying the number of hours Janet has spent in service to this organization that has a tremendous impact on so many residents of Union County.
Finally, it is important to note Janet’s willingness to serve as the Union County Appalachian Trail Community Chairperson. Janet led Union County to receive the designation as an AT Community in 2011, and only recently stepped down as Chair of the committee. Through her foresight, Union County was one of the first communities to receive this designation in support of hiking, one of our top tourism activities.
Time and time again, I have seen Janet step up to lead efforts that directly benefit Blairsville-Union County and its citizens. She is the epitome of a community servant and a champion for the positive economic development of Blairsville and Union County. As a community, we could never say thank you enough for her unbelievable efforts which have enriched the lives of many. When Janet’s vehicle finally pulls out of Blairsville-Union County en route to her next adventure, I will be the sad girl in the rearview mirror waving goodbye. However, deep in my heart, I will know that angels should not be selfishly kept from the rest of the world, and so I will smile for all the people who are about to welcome her to her new home in South Carolina.
While approximately 550 local businesses and organizations already understand the value of being a member of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce and therefore are currently active members, there are many more that probably have not considered the true impact membership can make. Allow me to share the results of a 2012 study by The Schapiro Group, an Atlanta-based strategic consulting firm, on the real value of joining a local chamber.
The national survey of 2,000 adults revealed that being active in a local chamber of commerce is an effective business strategy because two-thirds of consumers believe that such companies use good business practices, are reputable, care about their customers, and are involved in the community. When consumers know that a small business is a member of the chamber of commerce, they are 49% more likely to think favorably of it and 80% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.
Small businesses stand to gain significantly if consumers are aware that the business is involved with its local chamber. For example, if respondents know that a small business is a member of its local chamber, the business enjoys a 49% increase in its consumer favorability rating, a 73% increase in consumer awareness, a 68% increase in its local reputation, and an 80% increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future.
With survey results like these in addition to a long list of member benefits, it is easy to see the value of being a member of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce. If you are a business owner and would like to learn more about how you can benefit from membership, contact our Chamber at 706-745-5789 or me directly at President@BlairsvilleChamber.com.
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 wwwVisitBlairsvilleGA.com, or me directly at President@BlairsvilleChamber.com.
The following article was written by Chamber Board Member, Janet Hartman who is the Program Manager for the Blairsville Downtown Development Authority.
We’ve all heard the saying “You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.” I’d like all of us to keep this in mind as the Downtown Streetscape project begins! Yes, it will be an inconvenience, yes, traffic will have to slow down, yes, it will be dusty and noisy and messy. But it will all be worth it!
This fall Downtown Blairsville will showcase a much more pedestrian friendly, visibly appealing and safer environment. Eight-foot wide, brick paved sidewalks will surround the exterior of the square, along with landscaped islands and additional lighting. New benches and trash receptacles will be the finishing touches; just waiting for residents and visitors to take a seat and enjoy the beauty of the area!
It all started in June of 2007. The Blairsville Downtown Development Authority and the City of Blairsville applied for a Transportation Enhancement (TE) Grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation as part of their revitalization efforts in the Downtown. Conceptual plans were designed to enhance pedestrian safety, better define the traffic lanes, delineate the parking areas and add some landscaping islands to the mass of asphalt currently surrounding the Historic Courthouse.
Over the course of the last five years, numerous drafts, revisions and conversations have taken place with the design consultant, various local groups, and the DOT. A number of public meetings were held to present the plans and ask for feedback. The final plans were approved by the DOT and a contractor, Johnson Landscapes, Inc, has been awarded the project.
Construction began the second week of April with saw cutting of the areas that will be enhanced with this project. The crew will then start with demolition of the existing sidewalks and replacement of stamped concrete and brick pavers. The project will be completed in phases so the entire square is not affected all at once. Expected completion of the project is late September.
Traffic through the square will remain open and all businesses will be OPEN for business during this time! We ask that everyone coming to the square be mindful that traffic will be slower and to please be considerate of the construction workers. Their hope is to complete the project as quickly and efficiently as possible!
Detailed plans of the project can be viewed at the Downtown Development Authority’s office at the Blairsville City Hall.
The Downtown Streetscape will be Blairsville’s “rainbow after the storm”!
If you are interested in learning more about Blairsville-Union County or about becoming a member of the Chamber of Commerce, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 706-745-5789. You may also interact with us online at www.VisitBlairsvilleGA.com.