2022 was a very good year for the chamber and the community.
*Our efforts helped grow tourism by over 15% with record SPLOST collections every month in 2022 and some of the largest lodging months ever.
*Of the hotel/motel tax, a % is allocated to Tourism Product Development projects, and over $470,000 was spent on projects throughout the county benefiting locals, visitors, and children. Just a few examples are new playgrounds at Horseshoe Bend and Tom Boyd parks, new outdoor basketball, tennis, and pickleball courts at Tom Boyd park, and the start to a new walking trail and dog park at Horseshoe Bend. Plans have started for a new pool at the Blue Ridge City Park, with projected construction to start later this year.
*While we don’t have all of 2022 numbers yet, the 2021 Tourism Economic Impact estimate was $272.5 million equating to $1,925 in tax saving per household in Fannin County.
*In order to enhance our support for the downtown business community, as well as visitors, we expanded our downtown Blue Ridge from the red caboose into a larger space on West Main Street near the corner of West and Depot St. This space opened in May of 2022. Even with a few months closed for moving and renovation, we saw over 7,900 visitors to this center. The space offers free internet for drop-ins, space to work, and also a conference room space with technology capabilities. We have similar offerings at our Main Visitor Center as well.
In total, we saw around 20,000 visitors to our centers in 2022.
*UNGA Blue Ridge Campus announced a $15 million dollar expansion including construction of a new 25,000 SF building and additional parking, which includes spaces for academic programs and a multipurpose event room to accommodate up to 300 guests for community outreach programs. It will host programs for Professional and Continuing Education and the Institute for Healthy Aging, as well as community meetings, student activities and conferences. Completion Fall 2024.
*We have seen unprecedented collaboration between the County, Cities, and School System with the Blue Ridge City Park and Fannin County Library. Both partnerships and projects will help make our community a better place for children and citizens now and years to come.