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For a long time, I’ve wanted to go on a road trip to visit the communities of my friends and peers in the Georgia sports industry. The aim was to see the venues where they make the magic happen and spend some quality time hearing about their approach to sports tourism. With the launch of Due North Sports Partners, the opportunity presented itself, so a few weeks ago, I hit the road for Atlanta and then kept going north.
Georgia has an abundance of great resources and it’s cool to see how different communities utilize theirs. Behind the venues and events are a passionate band of warriors that deftly meld salesmanship, community activism, and passion, into serious economic development. It’s impressive really.
The facilities I toured ran the gamut from Lakepoint, the fantastic sports mega-complex in Emerson, Georgia (more later) to the vineyards of Yonah Mountain Vineyard in White County, which will be the site of a grueling trail race, The Crusher, this May. Whether traditional or non-traditional, Georgia has the venues to host virtually any sport. And the communities who are maximizing their sports tourism efforts are reaping great dividends.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank everyone along the trip who gave willingly of their time and knowledge. If you work in an industry long enough, you develop a lot of friendships. When it comes to these folks, it was more like seeing family. Thank you Wendy Thomas, Bill Hardman, and Suzanne Moon at Southeast Tourism Society; Rachel Rogers at Cobb Sports Alliance; Renee Carden at Lake Lanier CVB; Anna Barlow at the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce; Jerry Brown of Alpine Helen/White County CVB; and Teka Earnhardt with Explore Rabun. The State of Georgia has a lot to be proud of with its great selection of venues, and even prouder of the fine folks there to promote them. From what I see, Georgia is in a very good place.