Chamber Launches

Chamber Launches

In response to the long-running string of negative news on the national economy, the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce announced the first phase of a community marketing initiative that highlights a much different – and much more positive – story coming out of Gainesville and Hall County.

“The national economy has impacted everyone, but in comparison to the rest of the country and even Georgia, our community has a great story to tell,” said Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall Chamber. “We want to get that story out, locally as well as to the rest of the world.”

In fact, the primary focus and theme of the marketing initiative is “A Great Story to Tell,” featuring a colorful logo and interactive website at as part of the initial launch this month. The website is filled with “factoids” and success stories about Gainesville-Hall County in the key economic areas of lifestyle, homes, health, education and business.

“From the start, we were not out to re-invent another Chamber website or duplicate the CVB’s tourism website,” said Lance Compton of Red Clay Interactive. “We have designed a unique site that showcases the ‘wow factor’ – stories about this community that are so remarkable in the face of the ongoing national recession.”

The website points out, for example, that Gainesville-Hall County is the third-fastest growing economy among metropolitan areas throughout the United States. Hall County also stands out among ex-urban counties as having one of the lowest property tax rates in metro Atlanta, while a leading healthcare trade journal recognizes Gainesville as one of the best places to practice medicine in America, according to

The website also offers the opportunity for local residents and business people to share their own great stories about living and working here.

“Part of our intent with this project is to inspire this community and help us all appreciate our many blessings from the perspective of our economy and quality of life,” said John Vardeman of Morton Vardeman & Carlson. “We know we can’t singlehandedly turn around this recession, but we sure think we can change people’s negative attitudes – and hopefully instill a more positive spirit and feeling of thankfulness.”

Frank Norton Jr. of the Norton Agency is certainly among those with a positive outlook, and he says his real estate company’s extensive economic research gives him good reason to be optimistic. Norton is one of the key leaders of the Great Story to Tell project.

“I had read about communities like Tulsa, Okla., and Charlotte, N.C., that are promoting their successes with online and traditional advertising in order to counteract negative media coverage. I knew we could do something similar,” Norton said. “It’s a matter of perspective. There’s not another area of the state, and few across the country, that has weathered this economy and continued to flourish economically like Gainesville and Hall County. That’s a great story to tell.”

Realtors Funded First Phase

The impetus behind A Great Story to Tell was the Hall County Board of Realtors, which provided seed money for the project. Planning efforts originally focused on countering people’s negative views of the housing market, then expanded as the slowdown spread to other sectors of the national economy.

“We weren’t seeing anything fundamentally wrong with our residential market,” said Peggy Madera, president of the local Realtor’s association. “But all the negative press has influenced people to think that we have the same kind of problems as the rest of the country. And that’s certainly not so.”

The Great Story to Tell website is the first phase of a much larger marketing initiative. Future plans, based upon funding, call for promoting Gainesville-Hall County and boosting website traffic with advertising on billboards, newspaper, radio and other media. The logo will also be shared with corporate partners for inclusion within their own business advertising and websites. Even local residents are encouraged to get involved by displaying Great Story to Tell bumper stickers and contributing their own stories to the website.

“We really hope to see this initial marketing effort to gather further momentum by getting the business community and residents involved,” Dunlap said. “We’re also pleased to have the strong support and backing of local media partners.”

She envisions the Great Story to Tell initiative to have a long lifespan even after the economy recovers. “This project is positioned to be an integral part of our economic development efforts for industrial and commercial recruitment.”

Key corporate partners who helped fund and develop the first phase of the Great Story to Tell project are the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, the Hall County Board of Realtors, the Norton Agency, Red Clay Interactive, and Morton Vardeman & Carlson.

For more information on how to get involved with the Great Story to Tell initiative, visit the website at

or contact the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce at (770) 532-6206.