Tag Archives: success stories

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.

Entrepreneur Success: Cabin Coffee

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.