HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw opened his monthly meeting, Tuesday, June 18, with an update on the county’s financial health. “Right now, the sales tax collections are up around $28,000 from what they were this time last year, so we’re very thankful for that. We give that to a good economy. We give it to many people trying to do many things to promote our county, have events, and bring people here, and they spend money, and have a great time. They leave and then it’s longing to come back here again, and they do, and a lot of them come back and build a house or buy a house, and that’s what it’s all about, so were very thankful.”
Commissioner Bradshaw noted the proven economic contributions of Candace Lee of the Towns County Chamber of Commerce, who was in attendance, and officially introduced Denise McKay, who serves as the economic developer for Hiawassee, Young Harris, and Towns County as a whole, praising McKay’s initial efforts.
“Jobs are very important and this is the whole plan…,” Commissioner Bradshaw went on to say, emphasizing the appeal of a “small town” essence, including a desire to deter younger generations from relocating from the area due a lack of employment options. “But I do feel like it is our job as county government to try to promote businesses, and try to promote some growth so that we can provide job opportunities, and that’s what Denise is here for. However, and she understands, and she likes it here, that’s why she moved here, but we don’t want to lose the small town feeling.” The commissioner concluded that his pressing goal is to fill vacant buildings and empty lots within the county with economic opportunities, beneficial to all.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The 2017 tourism figures have been calculated, and Towns County’s direct tourism spending increased by nearly $3 million dollars in a single year. Data revealed that $51.71 million dollars were the result of local tourism in 2017, relieving individual taxpayers of an annual $840 average.
Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee stated that although Towns is one of the smallest counties in Georgia, the chamber has reached an impressive 417 members. Lee shared data, confirming the high level of interest in the area through the chamber’s website.
“Last year we had 320,000 member views,” Lee said. “That means 320,000 people went to members’ websites. Out of that, we also had 1,869 people that clicked on the job tab on our website, 60,000 people looked the calendar, and then from our social media, which is probably Facebook because Crystal (Fairless Wagner) does a fantastic job with our Facebook page, we had 157,000 people who went from our Facebook page directly to our website. We are proud about that. We are a small chamber. We compete with a lot of the bigger guys.”
Lee informed that out of 17 counties in northeast Georgia, Towns County ranked the eighth highest in tourism. “We’re busy,” Lee said, “This county is booming
Last year, Towns County Chamber of Commerce fulfilled leads by delivering 1,549 informational packets, 187 packets on area relocation, and 667 visitor packets during the month of December alone.
Lee listed exciting, upcoming events, including a Bass Nation tour which will lure 120 boats to Lake Chatuge in late September, following an invitational fishing tournament that will coincide with the final days of Georgia Mountain Fair in July – both positive effects of the wildly popular Bassmaster Tournament hosted last fall – as well as the second annual Made in Georgia expo, scheduled for the weekend before the Fourth of July, and a new event, Rust and Roses, which will feature an array of antique and vintage clothing vendors in early September.
Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw praised the dedication of Chamber President Lee, General Manager Hilda Thomason of the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, and Chair of Hamilton Gardens, Grace Howard, for their hard work in increasing the county’s economy through tourism.
“The more people we bring here, the easier. It lightens the load on us who live here every day. They spend their money. The more people who come here, my belief is, the more people who’s going to come back, buy a lot, build a house, hopefully maybe buy a commercial lot and build a business or start a business,” Commissioner Bradshaw explained. “I have many goals, but this is one of the bigger ones.”
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Lake Chatuge was the site of the 2018 Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) point series tournament, and Towns County’s decision to host the sporting event yielded a high economic return.
According to Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee, over 10,800 visitors traveled to the area for the September event, generating approximately $2.1 million dollars in revenue. The expected return, cited by Bassmaster, was slightly underestimated at $1.5 to $2 million dollars.
Towns County extended a host fee of $60,000 to secure the Bassmaster series finale, a commitment both Lee and Towns County Commisioner Cliff Bradshaw said did not come without much consideration and contemplation. In addition to the revenue obtained from the event, a total of 5,434 local jobs were supported by the wise investment.
Lee and Bradshaw explained that the tournament will reap long-lasting results as familiarity with the Towns County area is better known due to exposure from the popular bass fishing event. During the week of the tournament, coverage of the AOY drove over 798,000 visitors to the bassmaster website, with more than 336,000 unique visitors, and 6.8 million page views. Video coverage delivered more than 269,000 views.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet, attracting more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Towns, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, and Murray counties, as well as Clay and Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week, reaching between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page.
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – “Made in Georgia” kicks off this weekend at the Towns County County Recreation and Conference Center, featuring a wide variety of products from the Peach State.
Vendors offering items that were made, grown, harvested, crafted, brewed, grown, stitched, or inspired in Georgia will be on site at the unique event. Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee says 65 vendors will participate in the expo, offering samples, demonstrations, and products for purchase.
Chick-fil-A, an Atlanta-based corporation, has signed on to attend, in addition to vendors offering festival fare such as barbeque, hot dogs, pitas, lemonade, and Italian ice.
North Georgia Technical College Culinary Arts Department will host three separate cooking classes on Sunday, demonstrating the preparation of native cuisine.
“I’m very excited about the upcoming Made in Georgia festival,” Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw tells FetchYourNews, “We sold 2,850 tickets at the recent Get Outdoors expo, and we hope to draw a large crowd to this first-year event as well. I’m happy that the Chamber is putting on the event, and doing such a great job in general.”
The festival runs from Saturday, June 30, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sunday, July 1, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Admission is $5 per person. Parking is free.
Towns County Recreation and Conference Center is located at 150 Foster Park Rd. in Young Harris.
The event will take place, rain or shine.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Tourism is on the rise throughout the Georgia mountains, and Towns County has seen a steady increase in the past several years.
Out of 17 counties reviewed, Towns County placed second in terms of growth in 2016, when the study was last conducted. Research reveals an 8.9 percent increase in domestic tourism expenditures in Towns County since 2007. Only Dawson County exceeded Towns, at an increase of 12.7 percent. Overall, the northeast Georgia mountains experienced 5 percent total growth in tourism in the past decade.
“I am very excited to see the numbers continue to climb, and I am looking forward to seeing last year’s,” Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw told FetchYourNews. “Tourism is our bread and butter as a community. Studies show that households taxes would need to increase $798 per year in order to replace the taxes generated by tourism alone. It’s a win-win situation for both the visitors, who are able to enjoy the beauty of our lake and mountains, and it benefits the residents who live here as well.”
In 2016, tourism supported 4,533 jobs in Towns County, generating $11.37 million dollars in payroll. Local tax revenues amounted to $1.33 million dollars.
Commissioner Bradshaw works in unison with Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee, and Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Manager Hilda Thomson, to bring revenue-generating events to Towns County.
The recent “Get Outdoors!” expo drew over 2,800 attendees, many of whom traveled to Towns County from surrounding areas.
“Made in Georgia” will make its debut on June 30 through July 1, offering products made, grown, brewed, crafted, stitched, and harvested throughout the state. The event will feature an array of vendors, demos, and samples of local products. The event will be held at the Towns County Recreation Center in Young Harris.
The 2018 Bass Elite tournament series, scheduled for Sept. 20 through 23, is sure to draw a crowd as well.
“We are excited to be hosting a tournament of this caliber, and we look forward to showcasing the beauty of our small mountain community to people from all over the world,” said Candace Lee, president of the Towns County Chamber of Commerce. “We want to put Lake Chatuge on the map as one of the best fishing lakes in the southeast, as well as the most beautiful.”
Information on upcoming events in Towns County can be found at GoLakeChatuge.com
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Only a week remains until the highly anticipated Get Outdoors! Expo premiers at the Towns County Recreation and Conference Center, offering a vast array of vendors and programs for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.
FetchYourNews sat down with Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw and Towns County Chamber of Commerce President Candace Lee on Thursday, March 29, to learn what’s in store. Bradshaw and Lee are excited to welcome the fun-filled event and expect it to become an annual tradition in Towns County.
If hiking is in your future, you won’t want to miss the line up of experts on the subject. Saturday begins with Backpacking 101 with Diane Duffard, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker. Duffard will share tips on preparing for both overnight and long-journey hikes, displaying her own gear as an example.
Later in the day, Joseph and Abigail Pate will host a workshop on multi-seasonal day hikes, focused on packing for a trip, choosing a trail, safety plans, and environmental considerations. Bob Gabrielsen, from Top of Georgia Hostel, will list the “Ten Golden Rules of Hiking the Appalachian Trail.”
On Sunday afternoon, Mary Maddox will share the journey of hiking the Camino de Santiago, a “prayerful path” that winds through the stunning terrain of northwestern Spain. Chef Joey Becnel will offer scrumptious recipes for easy-to-make meal and snack ideas for back-county cooking. The class will offer alternatives for those with allergies or special diet requirements. A primer on navigation and a basic first aid course will be available as well.
Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy hands-on Fly Rod Casting and Fly Tying workshops. Young Harris College Biologist Professor Jonathan Davis will present his research findings on the bass population of Lake Chatuge and other nearby fishing holes. The Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition will provide microscopes to view plankton in pond water, the basis of the aquatic food chain.
Chatuge Gun Club will offer the opportunity to test marksmanship skills at an air rifle range.
Sure to be a hit is Falconer Buster Brown and his birds of prey. Brown will share information on acquiring a raptor, training techniques, housing options for the bird, and species used in the sport. The presentation will conclude with a fascinating seven-minute video of falcons pursuing their quarry.
A falconry demonstration is scheduled for 2 p.m. on both days of the expo.
Children will delight in learning how to make and use turkey calls with avid turkey hunters Keith McKinney and Sam Stowe.
On Saturday afternoon, a class on the creative art of nature writing is planned, followed by a course entitled “String, Beans, and Fairy Godmothers,” which will spark imaginative icebreaker ideas for group leaders.
A worship service will be held on Sunday morning at 9 a.m. led by Pastor Jeff Deaver, of The Cross Church, host of X-treme Christian Outdoors.
Numerous exhibitors with a wide selection of information, displays, and wares related to everything outdoors will be set up both inside and outside of the venue.
Food vendors will be onsite with festival fare such as barbecue, hot dogs, jerky, boiled peanuts, kettle corn, and Italian ice.
The Get Outdoors! Expo takes place next weekend, April 7 and 8, 2018. The expo runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Admission is $5.00 for adults and children over 14 years of age. Children under 14 are admitted without charge. Parking is free.
Admission includes workshops. Program guides will be offered upon entry.
The Towns County Recreation and Conference Center is located at 150 Foster Park in Young Harris, Georgia.
For more information, visit Get Outdoors.