YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – The Towns County & Lake Chatuge Chamber of Commerce has officially rebranded as the Lake Chatuge Chamber of Commerce. The news broke during a surprise celebration held at the chamber’s office on Jack Dayton Circle in Young Harris, Oct. 24.
“About five years ago we did some rebranding,” Lee said of the Lake Chatuge logo which was designed by community members who sought to understand what drew visitors to the area. “Top answer was the lake, second type answer was the mountains. So our board got together, the committee on the board got together, and said, ‘we’re going to go with the lake.’ The lake is what brings the people here, brings the groups here, it’s what attracts more of the visitors here to the county. Since we’ve done the rebranding, you have seen the results. We’ve had Bassmasters here. We’ve had people calling for tournaments. We’ve had five tournaments this year. I’ve got one already scheduled for next year. It has exploded just because we use the words Lake Chatuge.”
A ribbon-cutting took place at the event, cake and champagne were served to celebrate the occasion, and door prizes were raffled to announcement attendees.
“You are getting a trickle-down effect in all your businesses,” Lee told the guests, many of whom were chamber members. “No matter what you do, you are getting a trickle-down somehow in your business from tourism. Towns County, last year, got a report for 2017 tourism that saif we are 8th in the region as far as the dollars we bring in tourism. That’s huge for a 16 county region, we are 8th in our region. We are #1 in the dollars saved per person in taxes per year because of tourism.”
Lee said that the tax savings annually amount to roughly $800 per resident.
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.”