During its March “hang-out” the volunteer group Venture Local Franklin (VLF) began planning for upcoming events to be held in Macon County this summer. With the intention of bettering the community as a whole, VLF volunteers are dedicated to organizing and executing fun and innovative activities and events to put Macon County on the map and to make it a destination for tourists.
Last Thursday, the group met at Cajun Connection and hosted open conversations from members of the community interested in working for the betterment of Macon County.
VLF sat down to put ideas together for the 2013 StreetFest events planned for this summer. Last year, VLF worked with the downtown merchants to facilitate a series of block party style events on Main Street to stir up support for local businesses. In their inaugural year, the StreetFest events brought hundreds of people downtown on Friday nights for great food, free entertainment and lots of great local shopping. With events scheduled for June 28, July 26, Aug. 23, Sept. 27, and Oct. 25, the 2013 series of StreetFest events is shaping up to be bigger and better than 2012.
“The 2012 StreetFests brought a fresh demographic to downtown and we hope to do that again in 2013,” said Matt Bateman with VLF. “Those people were downtown spending money with local merchants. It is a great opportunity for basic level of economics to improve the entrepreneurial activity downtown.”
VLF has also worked to stage a series of Cash Mobs at local businesses. With the focus of shopping locally, Cash Mobs encourage shoppers to raid one predetermined business with $20 cash in hand. The events offer a quick, economic boost to the store, as well as promotes networking among business owners. As part of the Cash Mob initiative, local businesses who fall victim to the mob, agree to “pay it forward” to a local charity. The last Cash Mob was held at Roomful of Nuts on the Georgia road, and after being the largest Cash Mob to date, Roomful of Nuts was able to give a portion of the events proceeds to REACH of Macon County.
Cash Mobsters have already set their sites on their next victim and are planning to mob Outdoor 76 on Main Street on Saturday April 19 at 6 p.m. During the Outdoor 76 mob, participants will be given the chance to nominate the next cash mob victim.
VLF has also teamed up with the Highlands Chamber of Commerce to take part in the annual Cullasaja River Gorge Cleanup. According to Jennifer Smathers with the Highlands Chamber of Commerce, the Highlands Chamber has been working for the past 10 years helping local volunteers with the annual clean up of the local waterways. This year, VLF plans to partner with the Highlands and Franklin Chambers of Commerce and Stay and Play in the Smokies to make the event bigger and better than ever.
Linda Harbuck, executive director of the Franklin Chamber, said that the cleanup is a worthy cause that is important to improving the community as a whole. “We share that roadway with Highlands and it is a huge benefit to our community,” said Harbuck. “The Franklin Chamber will work to help get the word out and promote the event in hopes of helping with volunteers to make this year's clean up a successful one.”
"We all know how important our natural resources are to attracting new business and tourism dollars to Macon County. The Cullasaja River Gorge is a huge asset to both the Highlands and Franklin communities, and it just makes sense to join forces to keep this gorgeous stretch of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, as scenic as possible. On behalf of Venture Local Franklin, it is our goal to reach out to both area chambers of commerce and promote these types of partnerships that help make our county as strong as possible,” said Matt Bateman with VLF. “We anticipate a great turnout that will allow us to make a positive impact on our community, as we help to move Franklin forward."
The Franklin Chamber of Commerce plans to discuss the partnership at its March meeting to find out ways they can best assist in the clean up. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 13, at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude with a cookout provided by the Highlands Chamber of Commerce at the Cliffside Lake Recreation Area.