Toccoa-Stephens County…a destination!

This is National Travel & Tourism Week.

You don’t have to be in our office long to hear a visitor in our Welcome Center saying how beautiful it is here. So much natural beauty and resources and history not available in the big cities covered in asphalt. From Toccoa Falls, Tugaloo Bend, to the Currahee Military Museum and more, Toccoa-Stephens County is smack full of beautiful places to see and experience. Over the past few years tourism has taken on a whole new direction in our community. What once might have been more of a pitstop on the way to somewhere else has now become a destination spot for many travelers.

The Chamber of Commerce has recently launched a website dedicated specifically to inviting tourists to visit us as well as business owners to consider expanding their locations to include Toccoa-Stephens County. www.VisitToccoa.com has a fresh new look. We invite you to check it out too.

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A few years ago, a team was formed with the vision to “set the standard for dynamic, rural communities where residents take pride and contribute to ensure an unsurpassed quality of life.” Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow was originally a privately funded effort and partnership between the Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce & the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development at the University of Georgia with the goal designed to turn our community’s potential into reality by focusing attention and resources on a common vision.

More recently Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow has made great strides toward the betterment of our community. The group currently made up of a diverse group of traditional and non-traditional leaders representing the entire community has focused their efforts on the opportunity placed before us to invite more visitors to our community. This being the new four-lane highway leading into Stephens County from I-85 in Lavonia. This was the biggest project on the books for GA-Department of Transportation for the two years of construction …and it leads right to our backyard!

While the new road was still under construction, this local group of community and business leaders and citizens recognized this as an opportunity to capitalize on to help grow our town. Inviting tourism into a community is certainly economic development. Toccoa-Stephens County Tomorrow took the lead role in preserving the natural beauty along Highway 17 running from the Franklin County line to the Habersham County line by proposing to the Stephens County Commission a plan to adopt an ordinance prohibiting new billboards along the Highway 17 stretch in Stephens County.  This ordinance prevents future generations from placing unsightly advertising structures all along that gateway corridor. Thus, preserving the beauty.

With the billboard moratorium in place and with the encouragement and assistance of our State Representative Dan Gasaway, a committee of this organization has been diligently working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to designate Highway 17 as “Currahee Parkway”, and to place identifying and directional signage all along the highway, including directional signage to significant points of interest in the City of Toccoa and Stephens County.  Our efforts in this area are beginning to come to fruition. Have you driven along the new Highway 17 and the 17 Bypass lately? If so, you may have noticed “Currahee Parkway” trailblazer signs are now in place along the stretch of Highway 17 within Stephens County. This is only phase one of many to follow. In addition to the encouragement we received from Representative Dan Gasaway in this effort to preserve and name Currahee Parkway, we are also grateful for the support of our Senator John Wilkinson, Speaker of the House David Ralston, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Governor Nathan Deal, all of whom were behind the mission. We know it wouldn’t be possible without their full support. Toccoa-Stephens County is the beneficiary of the strong leadership representing us at the State level.

Join us as we work together to promote travel and tourism in Toccoa-Stephens County. www.VisitToccoa.com