The Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce presented its first quarter Report to the Board of Commissioners last Thursday. Chamber President Paige Green outlined an encouraging list of the organization’s accomplishments and ongoing strategies for invigorating the economic life of the county.As Paige explained, the work of the Chamber of Commerce focuses on two major areas: A) Tourism Product Promotion and Development and B) general Community and Economic Development. Today we will cover the tourism part of this report; part 2 will cover Community and Economic Development. See below the article for video of Ms. Turner’s report to the BOC.
There is a good bit of heartening news on that heavy hitter of the local economy that is the Gilmer County tourism business.
First and foremost, our readers will be happy to learn that county lodging businesses saw greatly increased traffic in 2010 over the previous year. Hotel and motel tax collections, which fund the Chamber’s tourism development programs, were up 23% in 2010. 2011 is looking strong as well, with tax collections up slightly for the 3 months collected so far.
Other developments on the Gilmer County tourism front:
- On January 1st, Joe Sewell was hired by Gilmer County to manage the Ellijay Welcome Center as a part-time employee. Mr. Sewell had been working in this capacity since the fall of 2009 under a work force grant, which has since expired. His hiring was deemed necessary to keep the Welcome Center (located next to the Watkins House) open.
- The Chamber will be co-hosting the Georgia Travel Media Marketplace on May 12-14th with the Fannin County COC and the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Ellijay and Blue Ridge competed in a bid process with ten other Georgia cities for this great opportunity to promote tourism in our area.
The Travel Media Marketplace is a program of the Georgia Tourism Division designed to showcase Georgia’s tourism assets first hand. Past events have been held in Savannah, Athens, Macon, Hiawassee, Augusta, LaGrange and Coweta County.
According to the state website, up to 40 travel writers from the U.S. and Canada will meet with representatives from around the state to get story ideas about Georgia’s tourism destinations, attractions, and events. The Chamber plans to highlight area attractions such as hiking, biking, water recreation, downtown Ellijay, The Martyn House, Agritourism, and our emerging wine industry.
- Carter’s Lake was featured in the January/February issue of Boating Life Magazine, which bills itself as “The Authority on Recreational Boating”.
- The April 15th episode of the Georgia Traveler program on GPB featured downtown Ellijay, the Farmer’s Market, and The Martyn House.
- The Martyn House will be featured in an episode of MTV’s Cribs show set to air this summer. The feature will be part of the show’s “Extreme Cribs” segment, which focuses on unique lodging facilities and homes.
- The COC represented Gilmer County at the state welcome center in Valdosta as part of the Georgia on My Mind Days state tourism promotion program.
- The Three Rivers Music Jam kicked off on April 16 in downtown Ellijay. The same day, the city held the Bikes and Blues Rally, hosted by Better Hometown, and the Cartecay Bike shop welcomed over 70 cyclists from several states for the Italian Bike Race. The Three Rivers Music Jam is scheduled to continue on the second Saturday of each month through September.
- Plans are being made with the US Forestry Service to locate property for the International Mountain Biking Association Ride Center and 10 to 15 miles of new trails. A monetary donation has been offered to assist in the design of the trails.
- In June the Chamber will begin distributing tourism brochures through Mills Marketing to military bases and AAA offices across the Southeast.
- Plans are underway for the 6th annual Taste of Ellijay festival scheduled for May 26, 2011.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this report, on the Chamber’s Community and Economic Development programs. It’ll be interesting.
Hollywood just might be coming to town…