Paige Hutto speaks on resignation from Chamber

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Inevitable. The decision to move home was coming sooner or later for Paige Green Hutto. The recently married President/CEO of Gilmer Chamber said she knew when she got married that she eventually wanted to move home to Alabama with her husband and family.

“Family” is more than just the husband and kids. It is parents, too. Hutto’s mother and father live in Alabama as well. Going home to that much was most definitely a major part of the decision.

From Left to Right, Lisa Salman, Paige Hutto, Ellen Grant, and Caitlin Neal pose for a photo at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Gilmer Chamber.

Yet, it wasn’t something that she has worried about and fretted over. It was a feeling that she was waiting for, a sense of “the right time.” She explains that she wasn’t looking for a sign. Instead, she knew that when the time came, she would feel it and understand in her heart that the time had come.

She wasn’t going to abandon her friends, Chamber members, and colleagues in such a rough time period with so much facing them amidst the uncertainties of the virus.

And so she worked through the time until a few weeks ago. Hutto said, “I just realized that it would be selfish of me to stay because I could not give 150 percent like I always had.”

With a divided heart between two towns and a divided schedule as well, Hutto said the community deserved better. It was a Friday that she finally decided. That Monday, she shared her decision.

She also stated that as she made her decision to go home, she was prepared that it wasn’t a quick change. She shared her decision and her resignation openly ready to stay on for the transition if the Chamber Board asked.

And they did.

Paige Hutto, left, stands with Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, right. whom she worked alongside on many projects throughout her tenure with the Gilmer Chamber.

Hutto is still in Ellijay, for now. She is still leading the Chamber, for now. It is the last responsibility she is taking on as Gilmer’s Chamber President. Transitioning to a new leader, a new President.

The process, she estimates, should take about 90 days to find that replacement, with only a few days of overlap as she hands things off to the Chamber’s new leader.

Looking at the next chapter, there isn’t exactly a lit path ahead for her. She said going home and being with family is the main focus. As for continuing in the tourism business, she said it would take the right opportunity to come along to return to the industry. Gilmer is a special place and Hutto said she has loved it here.

“I’m really looking forward to finishing out my time in Ellijay. I’m really focused on that,” said Hutto.

To accomplish that, she is working through the issues of the day as the Chamber handles all of the details of the recently cancelled Apple Festival. However, a lot of work will also involve transferring her knowledge and the accumulation of the years. Getting the staff ready and the office ready for the coming adventures.




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Gilmer will cancel the 2020 Apple Festival

Arts & Entertainment

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – An email has gone out today with an official statement from the Georgia Apple Festival Board of Directors cancelling the October event for this year, 2020.

Confirming that they will allow vendor fees to rollover to next year’s event or offer refunds upon request, the Festival will be skipped in light of CDC Guidelines and rising numbers in Coronavirus cases. Though they do say they had considered holding the event under those guidelines, the extra costs and restrictions would be too much.

Read the Board of Directors’ full statement as follows:

It is with a heavy heart that the Georgia Apple Festival board of directors announces that the 49th annual Georgia Apple Festival Arts & Crafts show has been cancelled for October 2020. The difficult decision was made following the guidance of the local healthcare community, after consultation with local officials, and with extensive feedback from vendors, volunteers, and local citizens.

The health and well being of all concerned including our volunteers, vendors, and guests was paramount in the decision process. The board also weighed the additional costs and undertaking of trying to produce the event under the current CDC guidelines. It is our belief that the integrity and spirit of the event would suffer and not be profitable for vendors nor provide the type of experience that our guests have come to expect.

All vendors and other stakeholders will receive direct communication from the festival management in the coming days. We ask your patience and understanding as we proceed. Moving forward the board will explore various opportunities to celebrate the fall apple season and that safely enhance and promote Georgia’s apple capital.

We understand the far-reaching impact that this decision will have on the economic well being of our artists, our local businesses and community at large. The impact will also be felt by the two sponsoring agencies, the Ellijay Lions Club and the Gilmer Chamber. The Georgia Apple Festival is the largest fundraiser for both entities and the loss of revenue will be felt deeply by both in their effort to meet the charitable needs of the community supported by the Ellijay Lions Club and the needs of the Gilmer County business community supported by the Gilmer Chamber.

It is our deepest desire that the current health crisis facing our county, state, nation and world will be behind us and that you will make plans to join us October 2021 as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary Georgia Apple Festival.




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President of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Hutto tenders resignation


GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – FYN has learned today that Gilmer Chamber President and CEO Paige Green has officially tendered her resignation to the Board of Directors.

Paige Green Hutto, President and CEO of the Gilmer Chamber

Green has worked in Gilmer’s Chamber for over 12 years and has worked in tourism for even longer since becoming Tourism Director in Eufaula, Alabama.

According to a release given to FYN since the announcement, Green is returning to her home-state for family including both her husband and parents. Her parents have always played a major part in her life. Hutto explained as much in a featured interview with FYN as she celebrated her 10-year anniversary with the Chamber.

Now, returning to her home state, coworkers are already beginning to speak about the loss that will be felt. However, Hutto will remain with the Chamber for the foreseeable future as the Board of Directors pairs with the Chason Group to find a replacement.

The full press release follows:

Following almost 12 years of service in which she helped build the Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce to over 630 members, President and CEO Paige Green Hutto has submitted her resignation to the Board of Directors.

Hutto is making the change to join her new husband in Alabama and take the next step in her life with her new family.

“My love for this community and organization is only usurped by the love of my new husband and family in Alabama and it is time for that life to be whole,” she said. “It is because of that love that I tender my resignation with bittersweet feelings and a somewhat heavy heart.”

In her time at the Chamber, Hutto has presided over a period of exponential tourism growth in Gilmer County and an almost doubling of the organization’s membership. Her leadership has also been instrumental in the formation of the JDA, the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation and CORE- which grew out of a chamber-led trip to a business incubator in Carrollton.

“I hope above all that I will be remembered as someone who gave 100 percent and loved this community and organization and always worked for the betterment of both,” said Hutto.

Board Chair Chris Wang said Hutto will be missed.

“The Gilmer Chamber Board of Directors could not be more thankful of the extraordinary job President Paige Green Hutto has done these last 12 years,” he said. “Every chairperson has been able to walk in to a stronger organization year after year because of the tireless effort she contributed to this Chamber. Personally, Paige is one of the smartest and wisest leaders I have ever worked with. She will be missed greatly by this community and by those who worked beside her.”

Gilmer Chamber’s Board of Directors will work with The Chason Group to conduct a thorough executive search for the next leader of the organization. Hutto has agreed to remain during the search to enable a smooth transition.

“The incoming president not only has fashionable shoes to fill, but a highly competent mind to match. We wish nothing but the absolute best for Paige during this next chapter of her life,” said Wang.

Discover Dahlonega: Visit Dahlonega Virtually

Arts & Entertainment, Just For Fun

(Article by Courtney Randolph in conjunction with the Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber and Visitors Bureau and a post from April)

It’s no secret that… WMISS Dahlonega! We miss our friends and family… We miss our study buddies… We miss our coworkers… Our favorite shop keepers… We miss our North Georgia waterfalls, and eating at our favorite restaurants downtown.

But we think we know how to make this easier! Whether you’re meeting with coworkers or having a happy hour with friends,  Zoom video conferencing  is a way for all of us to stay connected to each other during this time. Instead of having your house as the background of your video, pretend you are at one of these amazing places in Dahlonega with these free virtual Zoom backgrounds.



Keep scrolling to download each background.  

Instructions on how to use these backgrounds are at the bottom of this post.

Share a screenshot of your call on social media! Tag us with @visitdahlonega and use #VisitDahlonegaVirtually.


1. Canopy & The Roots – Download

iced tea

Download Canopy & The Roots – Yoga Room.
Download Canopy & The Roots – Listening Room.

2. Christmas In Dahlonega – Download

iced tea

3. Corner Kitchen in Dahlonega – Download

iced tea

4.  Consolidated Gold Mine – Download



5. Crisson Gold Mine – Download



6.  Dahlonega Resort & Vineyard – Download

turkey sandwich

7. Dahlonega Square Hotel & Tasting Room – Download


Dahlonega Square Hotel – Tasting Room & Chairs ^
Dahlonega Square Hotel – Tasting Room (Up Close)
hoto Credits: Dahlonega Square Hotel 

8. Dahlonega Waterfall – Download


9. Downtown Dahlonega – Download


Click here for more downtown Dahlonega.

10. Frogtown Cellars – Download



11. Gustavo’s Pizzera in Dahlonega – Download

Gustavos Pizzeria

12. Montaluce Winery & Restaurant – Download

Gustavos Pizzeria

13. No. 3 Vintage – Download

Photo Credits: No. 3 Vintage

14. Red Oak Lavender Farm – Download

Gustavos Pizzeria

Photo Credits: Tina Duffey

15. The North Georgia Zoo – Download

Gustavos Pizzeria

North Georgia Zoo – Wolf
North Georgia Zoo – “Boo at the Zoo”
Photo Credits: North Georgia Zoo & Farm 

16. Three Sisters Vineyards – Download

Three Sisters Vineyards


17. Outdoor Adventures – Download

Gustavos Pizzeria

For another outdoor adventure, click here to download.

How to Use Your Zoom Background on Desktop 

  • Download your preferred background above by clicking “Download” and “save as” an image into a preferred folder.
  • Drag the image from your browser onto your desktop.
  • Download the  Zoom app for Mac or Windows.
  • Open the app and sign in.
  • In the upper right corner, click your profile picture and then click on “Settings.”
  • In the left menu, click “Virtual Background.” (If you don’t see it, log in to the Zoom website, go to “Settings” and toggle on “Virtual Background.”)
  • In the “Virtual Background” menu, click the (+) icon.
  • Select and upload your new Visit Dahlonega background. 

How to Use Your Zoom Background on Mobile 

  • Click the download link above for your preferred background.
  • Hold down the image and select “Add to Photos.”
  • Download the  Zoom app for iOS to iPhone or iPad.
  • Open the app, sign in, and join a meeting.
  • Tap the three dots in the bottom right to open the “More” menu.
  • Tap “Virtual Background.”
  • Select and upload your new Visit Dahlonega background.




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Discover Dahlonega: Stay local in “South’s Best Mountain Town of 2020”

Arts & Entertainment
boutique, hotels, Dahlonega, Discover Dahlonega,

(Article and photos by Ben Grimsley in conjunction with the Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber and Visitors Bureau)

Next time you are planning a weekend getaway to Dahlonega, look beyond the chain hotels. There are no shortages of hotels on or near the square with immense character and charm. Doing this will change the way you tour Dahlonega, named one of ‘The South’s Best Mountain Towns 2020’ by Southern Living.

Hall House Primary

Boutique Hotels in Dahlonega

I first came to Dahlonega in 2017 when I began my college career at the University of North Georgia. I thought that Dahlonega was a beautiful town with plenty of history and charm. However, it was not until couple of years later that I really began to discover all that Dahlonega had to offer.

While taking a marketing tourism class, I started touring local hotels and interviewed their owners. Frankly, I expected to find old houses turned into a bed and breakfasts with cramped rooms and second-class comfort. I could not have been more surprised by what I found.

Boutique Hotels Enhancing the Getaway Experience

Catherine Ariemma, the owner of the Dahlonega Square Hotel and Villas is very passionate about providing a remarkable experience to all her guests. “We walk them up to their room. We have a conversation with them. We discuss Dahlonega. It’s very personal.”

Through exploring small boutique hotels in Dahlonega, I discovered that they are not just a place to stay in between the getaway experiences that Dahlonega can offer; it is part of the experience itself.

Catherine noticed many of her guests do not want to stay in a chain hotel when they are traveling for pleasure. They stay at chain hotels when they are traveling on a business trip. Guests visiting Dahlonega want to experience small town charm and hospitality during all aspects of their trip, including their lodging.

What Boutique Hotels have to Offer

Boutique hotels provide an experience that a guest will not receive from a chain hotel. Some hotels in Dahlonega that I visited have amenities that include

  • Wine tasting rooms
  • Wine tours
  • Art galleries
  • Themed rooms
  • Historic buildings
  • Breakfast in bed

The Hall House, a hotel located directly on the square in a historic building, was actually started as an art gallery. The upstairs area was later converted into several rooms that feature original artwork of the owner of the hotel. Every one of these rooms is different and has its own name.


DSH Front Porch
Experience Boutique Hotels for Yourself

“Boutique hotels offer something a little different”, Ariemma says. “There is an ambiance here that you are not going to get when you walk into [another chain hotel].”

After exploring the boutique hotels in Dahlonega, I agree with Catherine. Next time you have a couple of days off, find a hotel in Dahlonega that you have never heard of and experience Dahlonega in a way you never have before.



Read more of Discover Dahlonega on FYN’s SUNDAY EDITION!

Discover Dahlonega: Why you don’t want to miss this year’s 4th of July in Dahlonega

Arts & Entertainment

(Article and photos by Courtney Randolph in conjunction with the Dahlonega-Lumpkin Chamber and Visitors Bureau)

Looking for some social-distancing fun, fireworks, and food trucks? Shake up your yearly tradition for the 4th of July by driving up to Dahlonega for this year’s 4th of July! Dahlonega’s 4th of July Celebration is known for providing family-friendly afternoons of patriotic fun, but we decided that we wanted to help families create even bigger, more exciting memories. This year, Dahlonega’s 4th of July Celebration may look a little different, but we will continue to shoot our fireworks high and proud! We want you to enjoy our yearly tradition full day of laughter, live music, good eats, patriotism, and adventures – plus Iron Mountain Park’s spectacular fireworks, of course. Here are a list of reasons why you don’t want to miss this year’s 4th of July.

1. First Friday Night Concert – July 3rd

First Friday Night Concert Series 2017

Start your day off right by joining us in Hancock Park for the First Friday Night Concert Series with Radford Windham & Stepback Cadillac on July 3rd at 6:30 pm. Order take-out from your favorite local business and bring it to the Hancock Park (located one block north of the Square) to spend some quality time with your family and friends. This free series held on the first Friday of each month now through October is an excellent way to wind down from the week and set the tone for a great weekend

2. Dahlonega Action Dogs

4thofjulypet 850x450

Come on out for a “barking” good time from 1 pm – 2 pm! Watch in wonder as the Dahlonega Action Dogs complete a series of Agility, Disc Sports, and Dock Diving tricks. The Dahlonega Action Dog team consists of handlers Rick and Debbie Nielsen and four border collies, Ripp, age 8, Jessie, age 7, Pete, age 3, and puppy Buck.

Tip: This show is completely FREE so bring the family, your lawn chair, and sit a spell with us!

3. Tasty Treats & Food Trucks Galore


Is the wait too long at your favorite local restaurant? Satisfy cravings for gourmet street cuisine at our food trucks located downtown in Hancock Park—these easy meals are sure to please palates of all ages! Cool off at Hancock Park from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. with some Kona Ice treats, or choose from any of the food truck options below:

Los Rios Mexican Restaurant

Food Type: Mexican Cuisine

Sunshine Alchemy

Food Type: Gourmet Vegan and Vegetarian


Food Type: Caribbean/Jamaican

Hot Dog Stand

Food Type: Hotdog Meals

Thanks to the Dahlonega Downtown Development Authority for sponsoring this event!

4. Enjoy Jams with the Fam


We believe that we cannot have a 4th of July Celebration without music! This year, downtown Dahlonega will have a full lineup of talented, local musicians that will have you dancing while you stroll and shop downtown in one of USA Today’s 10 Best “Favorite Small Town Shopping Scenes.”

5. Support our Local, American Businesses

pottery 850x450

While taking in all different genres of music, stroll through our downtown. We encourage you to support these hard-working entrepreneurs and learn more about all of the wonderful organizations in Dahlonega and Lumpkin County at the Visitors Center and Brochure Rack inside the gazebo located next to the Visitors Center.

6. Entertainment for the Kids

kids coloring

Stop by the Visitors Center Gazebo for some kids coloring pages & entertainment. Completely free and fun, and gives the kids something to do while you finish your icy treats, chocolate fudge, or to-go food!

7. Iron Mountain Classic American Festival & Fireworks Celebration


Love parades, fireworks, festivals, and more? Take a short drive up to the Iron Mountain Festival & Fireworks Celebration! Enjoy ATV trails, rental machines to enjoy, camping, local art, & much more.

Iron Mountain is hosting a classic American 4th of July festival…complete with a parade (featuring tractors, big equipment, patriotic Jeeps and offroad toys, and MORE), music, food, tons of family activities, vendors and of course a HUGE fireworks show!  A full day of events is planned from 12 pm – dark, so bring a blanket and a lawn chair and make a day of it!

Dahlonega is known for having some of the best regional dining experiences, and we encourage you to enjoy them while you are here. If you are in the mood for something on the go, consider placing a to-go order or grab a snack or meal from one of our food trucks or local restaurants, then grab your blankets and chairs and scope out the perfect viewing spot at Iron Mountain for the spectacular fireworks display that will kick off at dusk.

Tip: To buy your $20 parking tickets ahead of time, click here.


Special thank you to the Dahlonega Mainstreet & Downtown Development Authority and Iron Mountain Resort for helping making this 4th of July special this year!






Read more of Discover Dahlonega on FYN’s SUNDAY EDITION!

Gilmer Chamber refuses to “cancel” Taste of Ellijay

Fetching Featured, Tastebuds

Not canceled, but not the same. It seems to be a trending theme in the last two months of events like Taste of Ellijay are being amended to work around the viral outbreak, quarantines, and distancing.

Gilmer County’s Chamber President and CEO Paige Green released a video on social media three days ago speaking about Taste of Ellijay Week. Instead of one day downtown, 2020 will see a whole week of social media posts, updates, highlights, and photos of the flavors and foods that Ellijay provides.

All about Taste of Ellijay 2020!

Posted by Gilmer Chamber on Thursday, May 14, 2020

Chamber Communications Manager Caitlin Neal said that the Chamber did not want to completely cancel many people’s favorite event of the year. Most events like this have planned “rainout days” to reschedule the event if needed, but with the sheltering and quarantining, even that day was unsure of viability. Neal said they wanted to find some option to make the event still accessible. “We just didn’t want to not have a Taste of Ellijay,” she said.

With many restaurants doing curbside, delivery, or take options. But some are also having to work off limited menus due to the situation. A natural response is to connect citizens with the event to those restaurants who are struggling through this virus or others who are just reopening.

Neal took it a step further, however, as she said the Chamber is taking all the stress out of finding a restaurant as well. Instead of the common argument asking ‘where do you want to eat?’ Neal said the Chamber has made a Facebook and Instagram filter for randomizing Ellijay’s Tastes. The Taste of Ellijay filter will get you started into the week easily, randomizing and deciding for you on where to go.

With testing a beta testing, the filter is already been viewed 11,900 times and captured close to 1,400. With the event not starting until tomorrow, these statistics are all from preview testing and beta runs.

But filters, social media, and online efforts are still not enough for our Chamber as Neal expressed plans for more outside of restaurants like chalking information on the sidewalk in addition to other ideas. The entire campaign is not only helping a favored event to survive, but also to rally citizens to support local businesses amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

As the week continues and we follow up with the event, the Chamber will be hosting and resharing posts of their own as they curate the mostly online campaign for Ellijay. Follow the #TasteOfEllijay on social media outlets for more as well.

National Military Appreciation Month

Featured Stories
pickens chamber
Pickens County Chamber of Commerce 500 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Jasper, GA
Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Pickens County Chamber of Commerce | 500 Veterans Memorial Blvd.Jasper, GA 30143


Chamber Office Re-Opened – A Message from Gilmer Chamber Board of Directors

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A Message from your Gilmer Chamber Board of Directors:
May Network Luncheon Registration
Limited seats available. Click here to register and get your webinar link!
A Word From Our President & CEO
As we begin the process of reopening to a changed world, I want to assure each of you that your Gilmer Chamber is here to serve you. It is our honor to serve our community and our membership. Your success means the world to us and we want to make sure you know that we are HERE for you.
I also want to give you an update on our operational plans over the next several months. The main office in East Ellijay is back open and fully staffed. Our hours of operation are Monday-Friday 9a to 5p. The lobby doors are open, but we have limited access to brochures and areas of the building.
The Downtown Welcome Center is closed until at least late May but we will reevaluate each week. We will also continue to use teleconference/virtual capabilities at least through the end of May for all meetings.
Again, please call on us if we can help you navigate the reopening of your business.
Warmest Regards,
Events might look a little different for the time being, but we are still finding ways to bring the events our community loves to life in new ways! Be on the lookout for more info on Taste of Ellijay Restaurant week!
Business Resources
The following business resources may be useful for you and your business as Georgia begins reopening. If you have any questions or need any further guidance, please feel free to reach out to Paige.
Membership Announcements
Renewing Members
As of 05/01/2020
  • Cartecay United Methodist Church
  • Coosawattee River Tubing Company
  • Covenant Community of Ellijay
  • Gronholm Patent Services
  • Joyce Kosirowsky
  • Noontootla Creek Farms
  • Republican Party of Gilmer County
  • Scott Chastain
  • Twin City Motors
Gilmer Chamber | 706-635-7400 | |
The Gilmer Chamber is a 650+ member organization serving the North Georgia communities of Ellijay, East Ellijay, and Cherry Log. The Chamber serves as the destination marketing agency for the county and provides networking opportunities and business resources for its members. The mission of the Gilmer Chamber is to promote a strong business environment that enhances the quality of our community. The vision of the Gilmer Chamber is to be the leader in making Gilmer County the best place to visit, live, work, invest and play. For more information on joining the Chamber or getting involved, please call 706-635-7400 or e-mail
Gilmer Chamber | P.O. Box 505Ellijay, GA 30540



Fetching Featured
pickens chamber
  • CARES of Pickens County has launched a “TOGETHER WE RISE” campaign to help raise funds to keep up with the increased curbside distribution since the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Signs are being offered for a suggested donation of only $10.
  • Signs may be obtained at CARES, Rooster’s Market, Pickens County Chamber of Commerce and Marty Callahan State Farm Insurance.
  • CARES will be offering curbside sign distribution on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 am until 12 noon. Look for their “TOGETHER WE RISE” sign distribution table in the parking lot behind the Thrift Store. Bring your donation to the table and they will give you a sign! For other ways to donate click the link below.
All donations are tax deductible!
For more information, call CARES at 706-253-4777 or click the link below
Pickens County Chamber of Commerce 500 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Jasper, GA
Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Gilmer Chamber – Pay it Forward Gilmer

Featured Stories
April 16, 2020
Have you ever pulled up to pay at a drive thru only to find out that your ticket had already been covered? That feeling is the essence of the Pay it Forward Challenge.
Your business can contact the Chamber to get the funds and media package you need to start this process. From there you can begin contacting loyal customers to let them know that they have been gifted a $25 gift card and asking them to pass on the favor.
In receiving a gift card to your business and passing on the favor, customers help business owners continue to generate revenue. Thank you to Faith, Hope, and Charity for providing the funds necessary to get this process started for our local businesses! Contact The Chamber to get your business set up with this program today!
Check out this short video for a more in-depth explanation of the process:
Pay it Forward Gilmer Challenge
Business News
Couldn’t Make it to the April Network Luncheon?
If you were unable to attend our first-ever network Luncheon, no worries! We have pulled video highlights here for you:
Gilmer Chamber April Network Luncheon
Sponsor’s Note
Penelope Marshall with Amicalola EMC shares the impact that AEMC has in Gilmer County and tells what they are doing to keep employees and customers safe at this time.
Gilmer Chamber April Network Luncheon
Keynote Speech
Gilmer County Commission Chair Charlie Paris delivers a State of the County Address.
Gilmer Chamber April Network Luncheon
Membership Update
Membership Manager Ellen Grant lists new members to the Chamber and talks about exciting opportunities coming up for our members.
Gilmer Chamber April Network Luncheon
Chamber Update
President and CEO Paige Green talks about what the Chamber is doing to respond to COVID-19 and shares some exciting opportunities that the Chamber will be offering for our business community.
Good News from Gilmer
Share the Sunshine Challenge Winners
Our Share the Sunshine Contest is still going strong! Here are the individuals that have won so far and the businesses they chose for their $150 gift card. You too can win an awesome prize! Simply share what you’re doing to stay positive with us on Facebook, use #SharetheSunshine, tag the Gilmer Chamber, and make sure your post is public for a chance to win!
  • Kathy Romanick: Heaven Sent Massage
  • Kathleen Hodgens: Mr. P’s
  • Kristin Taffin: Cantabury
  • Janice Clayton: Whimz
  • Laura Wilson: Live the Trail
  • Courtney Keough: Spectra
  • Beau Lowman: ACE
  • Pam Burns: Back Porch Bistro
  • Haley Robinson: Belle’s Boutique
  • Cindy Ashurst-First: Gilmer Food Pantry
  • Jenny Jannsen: Black Bear Antiques
  • DeeAnne Stenberg: Abby’s Ice Cream

Have your Child Create a Card for the Elderly

Just For Fun

Card project

Chamber creates new “Chalk Ellijay” event amid isolations

Fetching Featured

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Building, coordinating, and energizing a social function can be quite difficult, but doing one amid widespread quarantines and self imposed isolation is a completely different order, such as “Chalk Ellijay.”

We are here to support our community and lift the spirits of those around us. Please tune in until the end of this video for a fun way to stay positive and brighten someone’s day. We have always said that the Gilmer Chamber is a family and now it is time to show our community what this family is all about! #ThisIsEllijay

Posted by Gilmer Chamber on Friday, March 20, 2020

Gilmer County’s Chamber of Commerce has taken on exactly that task as they began a new event over the weekend. After an earlier video post from President/CEO Paige Green promising to help coordinate resources and business in the time of need. But, the video ended on a very different note.

Green said the Chamber’s two locations, the Downtown Welcome Center on the Square in Ellijay and the main office just off 515 in East Ellijay, now have baskets of chalk. What they are pushing to do with this chalk is building community and a neighborhood feeling by using the chalk to “Chalk Ellijay.”

A later post offered more details stating,

“(We get by with a little help from our friends.) In an effort to help lift our community’s spirit, we invite you to chalk your sidewalk or driveway with an encouraging message, snap a picture, and post it using #ThisIsEllijay so the community can see! Need chalk? Visit the downtown welcome center or Chamber office! We have chalk inside buckets for you. (Please only take one or two and leave some for your neighbor!) want to go the extra mile? Leave an encouraging message in the driveway of an at-risk/elderly/immune compromised friend and give them a call afterwards to let them know you’ve been by. (Let’s maintain social distancing 💪🏻) We will get through this together in heart.”

Chalk EllijayThe idea of the chalk use is simple, but social media has been flooded over the last week from across the country with stories and videos of people do small things to build greater feeling and community.

From a man playing music in the common garden of an apartment complex for people to list to from their balconies to signs and gifts of people visiting elderly relatives outside the windows of their homes and apartments.

The local step is incorporating far more than just a few select groups though. The Chamber said, “We are here to support our community and lift the spirits of those around us… We have always said that the Gilmer Chamber is a family and now it is time to show our community what this family is all about!”

People are starting to take to social media, posting their own chalk art and messages, with even a few local businesses and restaurants joining in, too.

Chalk Ellijay

Fetching Features: a look at Chamber President Paige Green

Fetching Featured

Celebrating ten years at a job is amazing in itself, but I recently learned that even five years at a Chamber of Commerce is not exactly common, much less ten.

As if meant to be, the Gilmer Chamber celebrates 40 years in the same month that its President and CEO, Paige Green, achieves a milestone rarely heard of in the business, ten years as President/CEO.

The business isn’t easy, according to Green, who admits the stress can be overwhelming at times. Yet, she seems to have made a life thriving on the energy as her experience in the Chamber business extends far past just ten years. Getting a chance to sit and think back over her career is not something she has done in a while as Green smiled remembering people and mentors from the past. A thought she continues to return to as she shares her story is just how much effect one person can have on another’s life.

People like Terry Exum, a high school friend who first introduced her to the life as she told her of a job in Green’s hometown. The position was Tourism Director in Eufaula, Alabama.

Paige Green, right, poses with Bass U.S. Open Champion Byron Velvick, left, in New York City in 2004.

Paige Green, right, poses with Bass U.S. Open Champion Byron Velvick, left, in New York City in 2004.

Having spent a year in college studying PR and Journalism before switching to and receiving a degree in Business Management from Troy State, Green had moved on to a Masters degree as well before spending her time teaching Business Education. It was 1998 and she had just finished her first year of teaching in Grady, Alabama. It was also the point where she knew she shouldn’t be teaching. The way she recalls her time there, she admits she wasn’t the best teacher. Yet, others would disagree, people like Ruth Bodine, who has worked with Green at the Gilmer Chamber since she became President ten years ago.

As a two-man team, Bodine says it was her and Paige when she became the President. Accomplishing everything from Taste of Ellijay to the Apple Festival, Bodine says she was often asked how the two of them did it? To which she replies, “I don’t know, we just did.”

She recalls how they would relieve the mental stress, days when they would start moving furniture at 4:30 in the afternoon. Even though the day ended at 5:00, they’d still be moving furniture at 7:00 p.m.

Bodine says it was Green’s teaching that kept her at the Chamber so long, and even now as she prepares to leave the Chamber, she looks back and admits she would never have stayed so long without Paige Green.

“I could have failed,” says Bodine who added that it was always Green behind her as she worked on the databases. She taught through partnership as they both agreed they didn’t like the database at the time and had Bodine research and look for a new database. She adds that it was this type of partnership and teaching that kept her working for the Chamber all this time.

Still, Green left her teaching in Grady to return home to Eufaula and take up the mantle as Tourism Director. Nostalgia surfaces as she recalls a tiny office, one belonging to the building’s postmaster in its former life as the post office. With pride in her voice, Green says she left the sign on the door. She calls it her first “real, grown-up job.”

Though you may not be able to notice it if you know her, Green is very introverted. She calls herself a shy girl who can’t inject herself into a conversation. After nearly 20 years of work in social situations, she may have grown out of it slightly, but she says she still retreats back into herself every day. Eufaula was the beginning of a life of going against that urge.

To say she pioneered the position in Eufaula is nothing short of an understatement. Before her, it had been a part-time position before lying vacant for a year. As she walked into her first day, the office held a legal pad, a pen, a telephone, and a typewriter.

A noticeable lack of files on anything from local businesses to statistics for recent years greeted Green as she began her five-year journey to build the tourism of the town into a flourishing economy. It took almost three years before she pitched the brain child of her and friend Ken White, a ‘fee’ added into hotels to help inject life into efforts to grow the Chamber, the tourism, and the town as a whole. Something that anyone who has been to many Board of Commissioners meetings in Gilmer will recognize as the Hotel/Motel tax.

The single change of adding the fee injected an additional $200,000 into her tourism budget. It also kickstarted a growth in fishing tournaments as she began using the funds to host larger events. What she didn’t know at the time is that it would ultimately lead to her leaving the position.

Not by any mistake or incident, but the funds and growth in the tournaments gave way to something that began the actual transition. The spark that led her away from Eufaula was a laugh.

HAving spent five years in Eufala, Alabama, Paige Green, right, leaves to join BASS.

Having spent five years in Eufaula, Alabama, Paige Green, right, leaves to join BASS.

Having worked so closely over the years with BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society), Green grew closer to those she worked alongside. She found herself joking with a college roommate one day who worked with BASS saying “It’d be kind of cool to work with you guys.”

Though they all laughed, it didn’t take long for the seriousness to surface, drawing this young lady away from her hometown to Montgomery, Alabama. Though leaving Eufaula behind, Green often thinks back to both her family and her town. Yet, when talking about switching jobs and moving around, she says, “I’ve always been fortunate that I’ve never had to leave a job. It’s always been for a better opportunity.”

Starting the job in 2003, it wasn’t long before BASS, a company owned by ESPN, had Green flying to Connecticut to visit the home office. Yet throughout her time, it became rather muddy exactly what her title was. Titles like Sponsorship Coordinator and Director’s Assistant were mentioned several times over the years. But if you outlast four bosses like she did, it might be understandable that these things change a lot.

Actually, Green shares that it seemed each new boss came with a promotion for her as her title and function changed. Working to maintain relationships with clients, sponsors, event locations, and contracts, Green says, “I got to plan all of the cool parties, I just didn’t get to go.” Some of these events are widely well known even today, events like the Bassmaster Classic.

Events like these brought out a newer side of her as she began realizing the level of stress that comes with the events. For example, she calls the Bassmaster Classic ‘Hell-Week.’ It only showcases the kind of person it takes to become an events coordinator. These people not only thrive on the stress and chaos, they become addicted to it. She didn’t explicitly admit this, but after five years with Eufaula, five years with BASS, and ten years with the Gilmer Chamber, the term adrenaline junkie gets used more freely.

Indeed, she began showing her best efforts when facing 50 anglers on a lake, 50,000 people attending a weigh-in, sponsors and anglers whose rooms didn’t get booked, and other unforeseen errors. In fact, Green has never had an event in any job that didn’t have logistical problems. It reminds you of the old phrase, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

“Anyone who ever says ‘Oh, the event went so smoothly,’ they are lying,” says Green. The difference is that where most people would be freaking out over the logistical mistakes, Green says, “That’s the cool part, is fixing the problems you didn’t know you’d have.”

Paige Green holds a catch from Lake Toho in Florida.

Paige Green holds a catch from Lake Toho in Florida.

Now, that’s not to say the stress doesn’t get to her. By her own admission, she has come ‘unglued’ at times. “The difference,” says Green, “is being able to stay glued in front of people, and coming unglued in your hotel room that night.”

It is in these moments that one can find the real chink in the armor of this lady. It is the less visible moment that one finds their own humanity. It came in 2005 for Green. In 2004, BASS announced they were moving their company to Orlando, Florida. Though not everyone got an offer to move with the company, she did. As she deliberated the choice of moving, the fear began to settle.

Before you can simply pass this off as a simple choice that should not have had such weight, think about a small-town girl who has never lived more than 80 miles from where she grew up. Though she had traveled, she never moved that far. Think also about a girl very close to her parents, very attached to her life. It’s like walking a tightrope without a safety net for the first time. No short ride to visit with the parents who loved and helped her through the majority of her life, indeed it was new people, a new place, a new climate, a new house, and even new changes to the job.

She had made her decision to leave the company. The only problem was that she never told the company that.

It was in early 2005 that she had decided she was going to teach again. She had full plans to work for Troy University. She was so sure, in fact, that she had the paperwork ready. She had just left the university after accepting the position. It was decided.

It was a simple moment when she pulled off the road into a McDonald’s parking lot. Pulling out her phone, she called the same man she had checked in with for her entire life, her father. It was a simple moment… which changed everything.

She didn’t pull over and call him to question anything about her decision. Yet, as they spoke, Green says she could hear something in his voice. “Do you think I’m making a mistake?” she asked.

Not being the type of father to influence her decisions, he didn’t say whether he thought it was or not. It was her decision.

Paige Green, right, grew up in Eufaula, Alabama with her parents, John, left, and Ellen, middle, Green.

Paige Green, right, grew up in Eufaula, Alabama with her parents, John, left, and Ellen, middle, Green.

“I lost it,” says Green, “I just remember sitting in the parking lot at that McDonald’s at Troy and bawling my eyes out because I didn’t know whether to zig or to zag.”

She traveled home to her Montgomery apartment and sat staring at the wall for three hours. It wasn’t until a knock at the door finally pulled her from her trance that she got up. Answering the door, she found her parents standing there. Driving eighty miles through a storm, they had come to help her choose.

Laying everything out and discussing the options, a decision still could not be reached. Sending her parents home without a conclusion, Green says she woke up the next morning and called Troy to say she wasn’t taking the job. She was moving to Orlando.

As the years progressed, she began traveling more and more. She found herself on the road for 23 weeks out of the year saying, “I had a really nice house for my cat…” Having moved to Orlando in April of 2005, she spent the next three years with the company.

Though she enjoyed traveling and seeing the country, it was a constant suitcase being packed and unpacked. The continuous movement never really allowed roots to grow. She loved the job, but things began to add up to a need for change. It wasn’t just the constant traveling, though. Green says things began changing and people began leaving as rumors grew that the company might be sold.

Searching through options for positions with boat manufacturers to stay in the industry she knew and chamber positions to follow the what she began earlier in life, Green happened upon a posting on the internet about a position with a North Georgia county where she had visited as a child. She had found the Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce.

She had, unfortunately, also found a 17-page application for the position. Something she jokes about to this day and even had in the temporary museum for the Chamber’s 40-year celebration.

Interviewing for the job proved to be far more difficult than just a 17-page application, however, as she first submitted her resume to Tim Chason, the ‘headhunter’ who was hired to find someone for the position. She then had a phone interview with him. After he approved of her as a potential candidate, he provided the 17-page application. He then narrowed down the candidates to four, including Green.

Coming in to interview with a committee meant facing eight people simultaneously. She met them in a boardroom on the second floor of New Horizons Bank, now South State Bank. To this day, she admits she refuses to sit at the head of the table as it was her spot for the interview.

Paige Green stops to pick her first ever Gilmer Apple in 2008 when she joins the Gilmer Chamber.

Paige Green stops to pick her first ever Gilmer Apple in 2008 when she joins the Gilmer Chamber.

In a remarkable turn, she shares a story that Melinda Hadden loves to tell. After the interview ended, Green walked out to her Toyota truck wearing a pencil skirt. Green says, “I’m a girl from South Alabama, so I yanked up my skirt to climb up into the truck.”

The catch is, the entire committee she had just interviewed with was standing at the window of the second floor watching her get into the truck. The twist came as Green shares the story saying that Hadden told the committee as soon as she saw her hike up her skirt, she knew that she was the one.

The job offer came on the very same day.

In perhaps one of the biggest ‘buts’ in Gilmer history, they hired her, but she started the job on October 1. Those of you who have lived in Ellijay know what October means. It 2008, when she was hired, October 1 fell on a Wednesday and one of the largest festivals in North Georgia fell on the following weekend, she had ten days to prepare herself for the Apple Festival.

Again, thriving on the chaos and stress, she has grown into a leader and logistical machine gathering her 20 years of experience into the position’s needs as president. It is a strength only she has access to according to Gilmer’s Tourism Director, Karla Roper.

It is her leadership that sets her apart for Roper. Another veteran of the Chamber world, Roper confesses that what ultimately drew her in with Paige Green was that “she saw me.” The faith and the encouragement is one thing, but the ability to share Roper’s vision and her support for ideas that may seem crazy was the key for Roper.

More than that, she says it is Greens experience that sets her in awe sometimes. The way she intuitively knows who to call and what to do to get things done. It is the thing she seeks on a daily basis to grow in, to gain that knowledge base and the experience that Green holds. Calling her the ‘Mama Bear’ of the Chamber, Roper notes its more than just dealing with issues, Green makes it look effortless and supporting and teaching her staff in the process.

It’s a shared feeling as both women separately noted the energy they get from each other. The growing relationship that feeds the family community is one of Roper’s favorite parts of working with Green.

Decompressing for Paige Green usually involves a visit to her quiet room, pictured, here.

Decompressing for Paige Green usually involves a visit to her quiet room, pictured here.

With Roper echoing the point of how stressful the job has been over ten years, it becomes apparent that a desperate need to decompress is inherent with the position. Green says she has her family and friends to be with at times, but she shares a lesser known secret that is far more consistently used. A ‘quiet room’ furnished with books, comfortable chairs, and a lamp provides her solace. A literal refuge to hermit herself inside. As Green tells it, it is the one place in the world that people know, if she is there, don’t talk to her. It has no tv, she doesn’t take her cell phone there, it has no computer, it holds the world at bay for a few moments to release and simply be.

It is a blanket fort made solid.

But outside of this place, the job awaits, the complaints build, the economy shifts, and the staff rolls on. Teaching a point as President so uncommonly done, the ten-year mark has allowed a look back at how she has made it. Bodine and Roper agree it is the way she treats people that garners success, that it is her inspiration to people that has built the Chamber to what it is today.

Green, on the other hand, says it is the moments that fuel her. In a business with so many intangibilities, it is easy to get lost without something to hold onto as a goal or an achievement. The Chamber sells something that isn’t tangible. It sells memberships and the benefits involved. Likewise, when the Chamber meets a goal like a number of memberships, there is always a higher goal, more to be done.

Such a business is more difficult to run, says Green. That’s why you hold onto the moments that happen. Moments like establishing the Greater Gilmer JDA (Joint Development Authority) or being nominated to the USA Today’s Nicest Places in America become the validation needed for her position.

What exactly is that position? Green says she is the ‘head cheerleader’ for the county. Understanding that every community has something great about it is the first step, but the long and arduous process of marketing and growing that community is the part that needs cheering.

While it can be frustrating as such a public position, most local people see the Chamber cut a ribbon and that’s it. They don’t see many of the posts, marketing ads, and business deals that you would only know from listening to her reports during Commissioner Work Sessions.

Accomplishing success in this kind of market requires a double-edged sword. Simultaneously a great strength and a great weakness, Green says she was told by a friend that she was never satisfied. Despite what she has accomplished, she still feels like there is more to do in Gilmer County, more she can give.

Paige Green, right, attends the weigh in for a tournament held just off Queen Charlotte Islands in Canada.

Paige Green, right, weighs the halibut she caught on a sponsor trip just off Queen Charlotte Islands in Canada.

With roots set in the county, Green says she doesn’t want to leave anytime soon. However, as she looks ahead she confesses a desire that she ends where she began. With no clear plan set, she does want to return to teaching someday. Whether its at Troy or Auburn or anywhere, the draw is undeniable.

Though there is future in the Chamber as well. Green is seeking certification as a CCE (Certified Chamber Executive) and looking at the possibility of getting the Chamber accredited. With only the top 2-3% in the country reaching accredited status. Wanting the status to build trust, she wants to show how strong the Chamber and the County can be.

The funny and energetic social introvert that is Paige Green, she says her shyness only lasts so far. It’s all about home-field advantage because if you catch her in comfortable situations, in her line of work or something she is familiar with, the introversion ceases and she becomes the person she has been for ten years in the Chamber. In control, the master of her domain.

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