Travis Crouch announces his intention to run for the position of Gilmer Board of Commissioners, Post 2.Why me? Why now?
Shirley and I got our first taste Gilmer County back in 1983, when we began paddling the Cartecay River. Our love of the area led us to build a second home in the Cherry Log area in 1990. The more time we spent here, the more we realized we wanted to plant ourselves here full-time. We did just that in 2002. Our daughter Whitney graduated from Gilmer High three years later in 2005. We love the natural setting of this area and we love the people who call it home. There is no place we would rather be.
My ministry, business, and volunteer activities in this county for the past 12 years have allowed me to become networked into many of the primary segments of our community. As Director of the CLC, I became connected to the faith community, the education community, various civic groups, and the student population. As a Chamber Board Member, I have connected with the business community and the public sector officials from our community. As the owner of an Outfitter’s Store, I have become connected with the outdoor community and the tourists who visit our area. All of these connections have given me a clear picture of our community as it now exists, but more importantly, I have a clear picture of what our community can become.
While our tourist industry is stable and growing, we have failed to attract significant business investment that translates into jobs for today and beyond. We are competing in an incredibly competitive environment which is truly global in scope. While we have a lot going for us, it would be naïve to think that business investment might just show up at our door. The notion that “even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then” is just not going to cut it. Instead, we must come together as a community, decide who we want to be when we grow up, and then go out and make it happen!
On February 28th, I had the privilege to act as spokesperson for the Catalyst Group to outline a collaborative effort to launch a bold and aggressive economic development program for Gilmer County. The plan, which was partially unveiled in a press release on March 1st, involves pooling the resources of several public and private sector entities to fund the hiring of a economic development professional who would be supported by the staff and facility of the Gilmer Chamber.
While I am excited about the prospects for this initiative, I am more excited about the cooperative nature of the project. When the Catalyst Group began its work one year ago, there was little evidence of communication, let alone cooperation and collaboration among the county, the two municipalities, and the business community. When we first began talking about the Catalyst project, many told me it was a waste of time to attempt to get the various governmental agencies to communicate or partner on a project to move our community forward. I am happy to report that this attitude did not prevail in our meetings and planning sessions. The collaborative economic plan just unveiled is stark testimony to that pleasant fact.
When I become involved as the Catalyst leader last spring, I never dreamed I would end up running for local office. But as I have seen the seeds of partnership in our community begin to sprout and grow, I began to see a bright hope and future for our wonderful community. The beginnings of a spirit of cooperation and partnership among the various private and public sector entities that I have described is our best hope to move forward to a brighter future, a future when our young people need not leave the community to find career opportunities. I would like to continue to nurture and encourage further communication, cooperation, and collaboration in our community. At this point, I feel that can best be accomplished as your Post 2 Commissioner.
I Want to Hear More. As the race moves forward, I will be communicating on Facebook at traviscrouch2014 and on the Web at traviscrouch2014.com. Both sites will be up and running in the next few days, so check them out soon.
Below are some personal facts about me:
• 55 Years Old – lifelong Georgia resident
• Married to Shirley Crouch, the love of my life, for the past 32 years
• One daughter, Whitney Crouch who is a writer for the Times Courier here in Ellijay
• Home for the past 12 years has been in the Cherry Log area after having a second home in the area since 1990.
• BBA in Management Science from UGA Terry School of Business in 1979
• MDIV in Biblical Studies from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004
• Graduate of “Leadership Gilmer,” class of 2008
• Graduate of “Regional Economic & Leadership Development,” from the Georgia Academy for Economic Development in 2012.
• 1979-2002 Independent Manufacturer’s Representative in the Furniture Industry. This position involved initiating and maintaining business relationships between various Southeastern Manufacturers and Retailers.
• 2003-2009 Director, Gilmer Christian Learning Center. This position involved administration of the non-profit organization as well as student interaction both inside the classroom and out.
• 2009-Present: Owner/Operator, along with my wife Shirley, North Georgia Mountain Outfitters, an outdoor outfitter to serve the needs of the hiking and paddling community.
• Youth Mentoring – Shirley and I have devoted a great deal of time and energy into the young people of our community. This began in another community before our time at the Christian Learning Center here in Ellijay, and continues until today. We literally have scores of teens and twenty-somethings who regularly seek us out for counsel as they navigate their way into adulthood. Some of our dearest friends are in the 17 to 30 year range.
• Board of Directors, Gilmer Chamber of Commerce. It has been my privilege to serve on the Chamber Board for the past four years, including the Chairman position in 2013. This role has put me in touch with many passionate and determined folks from the private sector who are determined to make Gilmer the best it can be.
• Spearheaded the effort to have Ellijay/Gilmer designated an Appalachian Trail Town. This work took approximately 18 months, and culminated in a designation ceremony in September, 2012.
• Catalyst Group Facilitator –I have the privilege of serving as leader and spokesperson of the Catalyst Group, a public sector/private sector team dedicated to moving Gilmer forward to a brighter future. This eighteen member group is comprised of 9 from the public and 9 from the private sector and has experienced a great deal of success bringing all of the stakeholders of our community together to work on common goals and directions.
• Georgia Apple Festival Board of Directors – I am currently serving my third year on the Apple Festival Board and currently serve as its Chair. During my tenure, the Apple Festival has successfully transitioned from the long-time service of Scott Sharp to a negotiated contract of services with the Gilmer Chamber for management of the day to day operations of the Festival.