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Dawsonville DDA discusses tourism, improvements to downtown area
City hall

During the Sept. 27 meeting of the City of Dawsonville’s Downtown Development Authority, DDA members discussed potential ideas to bring more tourism into and to improve the city’s downtown area. 

In a presentation to the DDA members, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce President Mandy Power discussed the most recent census data of both the county and the city. As of 2020, the city’s population is 3,568, meaning the city has grown by over a thousand people since 2010.

DDA members discussed with Power how, despite the growth in the city, one of the biggest issues facing the city is how to keep these citizens and their business within the city when it comes to where they go to shop, eat or be entertained.

“We’ve got all this huge growth in the city, around the city, but where do people go?” DDA member Jamie McCracken said. “We go to local, nearby towns because there’s just more to do, hang out, and selfishly that’s what I want here so we can hang out here and not drive all over creation to go enjoy ourselves.”

Power said that one of the biggest obstacles facing the downtown Dawsonville area is that in many cases consumers go to the outlet mall or other businesses on the 400 corridor instead of traveling the seven more miles up into the downtown area. 

“One of the biggest obstacles the city faces is when people are at the outlet mall they feel like that’s Dawsonville,” Power said. “They don’t really know that that’s not downtown Dawsonville and that there’s a downtown where they can go to the museum and eat at the Pool Room and all those kinds of things.” 

One important way to help increase this foot traffic for downtown businesses, DDA member Will Illg said, could be to increase the marketing and advertising letting people know what businesses are in the downtown area. According to Illg, this could include things like a billboard down towards the 400 corridor advertising the downtown area’s businesses or increased signage encouraging consumers to travel the extra few miles to come up to the square. 

“I love the idea of a billboard — I know I was talking to a local business owner and they said we don’t have any signs on 53 saying three miles more this way, downtown Dawsonville, here’s a list of some of the businesses you would wanna see,” Illg said. 

Power said that another way to help draw in more foot traffic could be to work on revitalizing the downtown area and adding to it. 

“I would say the biggest opportunities we have are the downtown area; we could really have a vibrant and robust downtown and with the park that’s certainly a great benefit and we really need to capitalize on that as the community to be able to draw more people in,” Power said. “It’s really just gonna be increasing the traffic and making it walkable… to create that downtown feel where people wanna come walk, eat, shop and hang out.” 

All members of the DDA and Power agreed that, while drawing in more tourism and foot traffic to the downtown area will take a lot of work, it would be worth it to help increase the economy and the draw of the businesses on and near the square. 

“It is a lot to take on but the end result would be really great — we do have a lot of residential population down here and how great would it be for them to be able to walk to downtown and do date night or do something with the kids,” Power said. “Somehow we have to draw people; when you think about where do you wanna go eat lunch we need to be thinking about places down here that we can go and trying to pull people in to do that.” 

DDA members also discussed the potential of creating a logo for the DDA to use on the billboard and other advertisements and create a stronger brand for the entity. 

“I think it would be a good idea to get a logo in place before we start branding things, so that way we have a logo that we can start putting on materials and then there’s not any sort of marketing confusion,” Illg said. 

The DDA members discussed the possibilities of what to incorporate into the logo and what makes downtown Dawsonville what it is, including Main Street Park, the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and the Pool Room. They decided that they would reach out to different graphic designers for help in designing different options of potential logos and vote on which one to go with at a later meeting.