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Why are we last? Jasper vs. Ellijay, Blue Ridge, Dahlonega

map-jasper-to-town

   An aerial shot of Japser from the Highway 515 and Highway 53 intersection into downtown.

     “There’s nothing to do in Jasper.”
    “Why don’t we have a LongHorn or a movie theatre?”
    “Blue Ridge and Ellijay have so much more. What’s wrong with people here?”
    Anyone who lives in Pickens County has heard these complaints or made them themselves.  The Progress talked to a few local leaders and key players about economic development here to address why Jasper seems to have been “skipped,” and what, if anything, should be done about it.    

See this week's print or online editions for comments from the Jasper Mayor, the Pickens County Commission Chair and Economic Development Director, a developer and more.

Comments   

Sean
+14 #1 Sean 2016-01-20 13:31
If it doesn't make the powers that be richer, then it doesn't make sense...... As we have seen with Ellijay, Blue Ridge, and other rural Georgia Mountain towns, if you empower your citizens to follow their dreams and open businesses as they see fit, good things happen. However, when you put up road block after road block in front of business owners and citizens that prevent them from doing such things because "it isn't what we're used to" or displeases those gated up off of Steve Tate; this is what happens. You are left with a town that is nothing but a blip on the map that people pass thru when going to our neighboring counties.

Our town's beauty is most certainly comparable to those of Blue Ridge or Ellijay, there's nothing stopping us from moving in the same direction and growing our local economy.

And opening resorts or other larger corporations does nothing for the local people who work hard everyday to make it, it only allows the rich to get richer.

We all know corruption is rampant in our town and if your last name is not the same as the "Bluebloods" then your opinion or voice is useless...unles s you would like to help them get richer of course!
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Mistermister
+16 #2 Mistermister 2016-01-20 15:29
We do not have a business and marketing plan. We are not aggressive in bringing a full vision. We need to also and MUST look beyond the "cake" like retail, restaurants and get real businesses with real income that can sustain the candy. We don't have that. Quite frankly need new leadership in business and government that knows "best practices" and not "best friends" in order to move forward. Not talking going Alpharetta or Canton, but Calhoun or Dalton blue collar communities that can lure mix of businesses.
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Bob
-1 #3 Bob 2016-01-21 14:24
Maybe it's not too late to create an entrance to city from 515 that at least is welcoming to downtown. Maybe road with decent curb and sidewalks, and sfreet lights.
6hc8x
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bULL sULLIVAN
+3 #4 bULL sULLIVAN 2016-01-21 22:20
Quoting Bob:
Maybe it's not too late to create an entrance to city from 515 that at least is welcoming to downtown. Maybe road with decent curb and sidewalks, and sfreet lights.
6hc8x


It is obvious to anyone who has ever developed commercial real estate that the central business district will never be as vital as those of our northern neighbors. You may have heard the adage, 'Location, Location, Location used in retail real property evaluation, it refers to the presence of potential pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and, ...this is really important, parking.

Having had an office downtown, I can attest there is no general attraction worthy of pedestrian traffic, every storefront is its own destination for a limited niche of the general market. Retail diversity is absent, restaurants are unremarkable, and pubs and entertainment venues fail within months of opening. There is no off suitable street parking available, and "door front" parking is limited and frankly made difficult by both angular and topographic orientation, and by speeding vehicles that make "pulling out" much less safe and much more difficult than "pulling in."

You can hire urban planners, landscape designers, restoration experts, and promotion and tourism experts, and spend wantonly on consultants and experts, but you will never radically revive "Main street." In fact, except for the Wood Bridge Inn, there is nothing exceptional or unusual or really interesting in Jasper, and the Woodbridge needs several million dollars invested to create, from its good will and modest repudiation, a true Four Star Resort/Spa/Dini ng experience. Loan Hans a few million, find a buyer with vision, or just keep on enjoying a few well prepared specialties, and save your money, Jasper isn't going to rise up, its just going to attract more attorneys, hair stylists and small retail outlets which a high "churn," because really, where do you park and what do you do after supper?

If you are serious about increasing access to the City Center, here are two conservative suggestions, costing the least with the greatest return. First Church Street needs a turning lane from 515 to Burnt Mountain. Nothing fancy, no two way circuit, no divided highway, just a turning lane... Think about it, I do every day going to and returning from 515. Next, a large architectural sign on either East corner of 53 and 515, illuminated and listing restaurants, stores and offices from the PO to Walgreens, from WBI to 61 Main, and an large elecronic LED sign for advertising businesses and activities.

Finally promote business In-fill along 515, landscape 515 median and road side, create 515 business zone, encourage attractive signage, and permanently promote Mable Festival through signage. Encourage Elder Care and 55 plus housing, and subdivision development within a three mile radius of 515 and 53. Create a comfortable and diverse Retail marketplace, and pitch Jasper as a "Bedroom" suburb, "like Cherokee used to be" quiet semi rural, low traffic and convenient home shopping.

That's the ticket, and hey, no consulting fees.
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Bob
-8 #5 Bob 2016-01-22 22:44
Good suggestion..at least to start.
"City Center" should also promote Bent Tree. More residents will help business...and no out of pocket cost.
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Dudley Dooright
-9 #6 Dudley Dooright 2016-01-23 22:19
Sean:.
Those people gated off of Steve Tate that you bash have provided an incredible amount of business for local contractors. They have payed a enormous chunk of Pickens County tax revenue. They have provided many employment opportunities for the local area and the development has been a solid footing for the community since the 70's. Ok...take it away......what are you left with? The same people in charge in your area holding you back! Open your eyes and look at the "Big Picture"! Get involved and quit your bitching!
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betterbiz
+3 #7 betterbiz 2016-01-25 18:21
Jasper has no in-between. Jasper isn't off the map, its on a pamphlet for retirement folks and golfers. I see banks and pharmacies. Jasper needs its future generation to prosper and give its county some life. If I didn't love my job and my friends in this county, I would move away. Im years from retiring and golf is boring. Give me a movie theater, a decent place to eat, besides Mexican and fast food, maybe a library worth a flip, some where to buy clothes that isn't Walmart, attractions for our children, instead Jasper continues to ignore or not seek out any opportunities and forces its citizens to dine in Canton, watch a movie, and shop at the malls and outlets in other surrounding counties, meanwhile all the money jasper will get from its citizen is outrageous property tax and its generation I am certain will move away because none of them are retiring or care to play golf.
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Richard Head
-4 #8 Richard Head 2016-01-28 16:56
The "Downtown" area of Jasper is what it is. There is no more parking to be had unless someone wants to buy a building and tear it down to build a parking deck and I don't see anyone with that kind of cash or dare I say stupidity.

Pickens County is a bedroom community and like Bull said should be advertised as such. We're not going to have the carpet/flooring industries Calhoun and Dalton have due to the fact of no quick access to the interstate. 515 is not an interstate and even though 575 is, it does not offer quick access anywhere. Our best bet would be tech type industries but first you're going to have to make sure the local infrastructure is in place to handle it like fibre. I'm not sure ETC is ready for that and is probably pretty proud of it if they do have it. I'm sure they already have but I would target the larger industries in the surrounding counties and approach them about relocating to Pickens. Send them a flyer or email but I believe it will have to be specific targets if you're looking for large employers 300+.

We need to be pumping the Marble Festival 247/365 and we need to expand it to 2 weekends and grab some of the folks heading up to the Apple Festival. It's no secret they draw 2 or 3 times the people we do in a weekend plus they have 2 or 3 times the offerings to check out. If the MF didn't expand then move it back up on Main St and bring back some of that old Festival feel. It would have to be from Jasper Drugs North up Old 5 since the State will not let the County block Hwy 53.

A turn lane from 515 to downtown would be nice but it gets a little tight at the City Cemetery. I think the idea of one way in and one way out of town that has been proposed before is goofy and useless especially if there isn't going to be a "new found parking space solution".

I get tired of hearing "Shop Local" when the price of an item is $5-$10 more here than in Canton. I will wait until I'm in Canton and purchase it there. I hate it for you but because you're "Local" doesn't entitle you to my $5-$10. You should be the same or less if you want me to "Shop Local".
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Sad Sak
-5 #9 Sad Sak 2016-02-01 09:44
You'all jus keep on and maybe you can turn Pickens County into the southeast side of Chicago.
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transplant
-2 #10 transplant 2016-02-15 12:17
having travelled extensively and chosen to settle here in jasper up in a gated community, i like it here. it is exactly what i wanted in a safe sleepy out of the way off the grid location. the way to drive business here is thru vacationers. think european communities and travelers. the english and the german love to holiday for months at a time, multiple families consistently season after season. we need bed and breakfasts and small inns with a good diner and a real pub not a biker bar. we need to make our water access, accessible with boats to rent and fishing and a real "lake" atmosphere. create a season of economy and let that lead to growth. the people that will come and boost the economy here are the same types that travel to sleepy greek villages to get away from the hustle and bustle. however there are no places like that here. the woodbridge inn is not what we or others are looking for. its too "contrived". if you do bring the businesses in that you are describing you'll completely destroy everything good about this place and your quality transplants will pick up and leave. i've seen it happen and it will here too. don't destroy the reason that we all left the city and chose here over other small towns.
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