Appreciating our community and local treasures

Appreciating our community and local treasures

By Chamber Chairman Denise Deal

I am always intrigued to find something new or meet someone new in this community we each call home. Let me first give you a little background – I have a list (well, I have several lists, but one is a mental list) of “Things I Want to See and Do” before departing this world. The list includes such items as sky diving, riding in a helicopter, riding in a jet, driving a transfer truck, driving a race car (on a race track), and so on. I have accomplished several of these wish list items since moving to Gainesville, and I came one step closer to checking off a goal on my list a few weeks ago.

Driving a Race Car

My need for speed led me to take a one-day automobile handling course at Road Atlanta. I figured this was a good first step towards the whole race car gig. The experience was awesome and only gave me just enough enthusiasm to know that for my 40th birthday I want to go to racing school. Now, you may be thinking, “Where on earth she is going with this column?” But, my point of telling you about this experience is letting you know something interesting that I learned, beyond my love of speed. I did not expect the diversity and mix of individuals also sharing my need for speed. I fully expected to see a familiar face participating in the day’s events. Actually, I expected to see other individuals from our community participating. That was NOT the case. Here is the mix in a class of 11 participants…

– two were from Hawaii (who came for several instructional courses at Road Atlanta)

– one from Norfolk, Virginia

– three were teens from the metro Atlanta area

– one college student from the metro Atlanta area

– two adults from South Carolina

– one adult from the metro Atlanta area

As the class began and everyone introduced themselves, I was astonished to learn of the places these folks came from. I knew first-hand from working with Road Atlanta that it is a top-notch organization and very well known throughout the country, but it was much more powerful to hear these folks sing the praises of our local treasure.

Through the eyes of a stranger

Now, I share this moment with each of you because it rings true in so many ways. We do not often appreciate something until we see it through the eyes of a stranger. Gainesville/Hall County is an awesome community to live, to work, to play and to stay.

Recent proof of our fame was the mention of our community in the national trade publication – Men’s Health named Gainesville one of its “50 Best Places to Live” in the April 2007 issue. The magazine reviewed the nation’s 10 largest cities and found a town within an hour that has carved out its own identity. The magazine cites Gainesville’s small town atmosphere and proximity to Atlanta which says makes it one of the country’s best “commuter towns.”

In addition, medical magazine Medical Economics listed Gainesville-Hall County as one of “America’s Best Places to Practice.”

Stop and smell the roses

VISION 2030, the citizen’s vision of our future, is a community planning initiative focused on maintaining the positives and seeking out creative solutions to our challenges. VISION 2030 is also the blueprint by which we can create our future. We are a phenomenal community, and there is much to be learned and gained by reminding ourselves just what we have in our own backyard – just like I did at Road Atlanta a few short weeks ago. I challenge you to “stop and smell the roses” here in Gainesville/Hall County and be thankful for the economically sound, culturally-enhanced community that we each call home.

Our community forefathers had the vision to secure a sound and prosperous economy for us with treasurers like Road Atlanta, Lake Lanier Islands, quality industrial and business parks, shopping and retail centers, top-notch educational facilities and quaint, revitalized downtown areas in Gainesville and Flowery Branch. As much as I appreciate all that we have here in Gainesville-Hall County, I know that we must move forward and not only maintain current treasures, but build upon them and continue our tradition of quality growth and development.

The lazy days of summer are almost behind us and with that comes new adventures and the beginnings of a new year on the horizon. As your Chamber of Commerce Chair, I look forward to tackling new adventures that will help this community prosper and prepare for the future. The Executive Committee, Chamber Board and, most importantly, staff are eager to participate in the next adventure. This year will be one to remember as we celebrate these milestones together – the 100th Anniversary of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, and equally as importantly, we will celebrate and appreciate the everyday… businesses, families and individuals thriving in a community such as Gainesville-Hall County, Georgia!