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The Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting and open house for its new offices at 696 First Avenue in East Ellijay on Friday, June 22, 2012.
Attendees enjoyed an outdoor barbecue, as well as tours of the new facility.
by Whitney Crouch

A large crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting and open house at the new Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce office Friday, June 22, 2012.
Attendees enjoyed partaking of a barbecue lunch and touring the newly remodeled facility, which is located in the former Community and Southern Bank branch at 696 First Avenue in East Ellijay.  
The building, which was selected because of its central location in the community and easy visibility from Highway 515, is nearly twice the size of the old Chamber offices and contains much more storage and planning space. Its pleasant reception area features a stone fireplace and walls lined with brochures promoting activities and businesses in the local community and the north Georgia region. Over the mantel is a screen showing a slideshow of pictures highlighting the beauty of Gilmer County. 
For many visitors to the area, the Chamber provides the first impression they have of the community. As a result, the Chamber sought to design a place that would facilitate warm conversation and make people feel at home. 
“We are now able to provide a welcome center that truly says welcome to visitors to our community. It is a comfortable place where they want to sit and stay and visit with the staff while they learn about what Gilmer County has to offer,” observed Chamber board of directors chairwoman Amber Davenport.  
“We were purposeful in our plans for creating a relaxing, soothing atmosphere,” added Paige Green, Chamber president, as she spoke about the recently acquired facility. “This building represents an investment we as the Chamber are making in the future of our community. It shows that we believe the future will be bright for our community. How can we continue to ask our business owners and prospective business owners to invest in Gilmer County if we don’t?”
The need for a new Chamber facility was first officially identified in the organization’s 2007 strategic plan and has remained one of its top priorities since that time. 
“I must commend all of the Chamber leadership over the years that didn’t let this need fade away,” Green stated. “Their leadership put us in a position to be able to take advantage of the opportunity that became available in late 2011. This year’s board of directors just had to say ‘yes. Right time, right place, right move.’ I think that is why it was so gratifying to have six of the past seven chairmen of the board on the front row as we cut the ribbon. This was as much their day as it was ours.”
Davenport also expressed her appreciation for the Chamber staff and members during this time of transition and progress. 
“I’m excited mostly about the possibilities that it brings,” she noted. “It took a lot of great people working for many years to bring this about, and I believe it is going to be an overall great thing for this community.”  
She also shared her hope that more people will be inspired by this and other positive changes to get involved with the Chamber organization as it seeks to promote Gilmer County. 
Members of the community who were unable to attend the open house are still welcome to stop by the Chamber to take a look at the new facility and to look through the brochure displays. Even those who have lived here their entire lives might discover information about a hidden gem they had forgotten or overlooked. 
For more information about the Chamber, call 706-635-7400 or visit

This article was originally published in the June 28, 2012, print edition of the Times-Courier.

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