Downtown Welcome Center earns regional visitor information distinction from state
There are a lot of people coming through the doors of the Cedartown Welcome Center every year. By count of officials who keep up with the thousands of names in the welcome center’s guest book, they put the figure at somewhere around 10,000 people a year enjoying the city’s hospitality.
Some drive from as close as Marietta or Tallapoosa, and some as far away as Lyon, France, and Vancouver, Canada.
Whether it’s stopping in for a map of the Silver Comet Trail, picking up a local events calendar, or just popping in for a cold drink of water, the Welcome Center serves as a hub of hospitality and information. And that hub just got a little larger – not in physical size, but in networking opportunities and community partnerships.
The Cedartown Welcome Center was recently named by the State of Georgia Department of Economic Development as a Regional Visitor Information Center (RVIC).
There are approximately 60 RVICs in the entire State of Georgia, with the closest ones being in Douglasville and Cartersville. “This is wonderful news for Cedartown,” said Welcome Center Manager and Main Street Director Ramona Ruark. Going forward, Ruark explained, visitors and Silver Comet Trail riders will see new Georgia branded items in the center as part of the recognition which includes a plaque and Georgia floor mats and decals. The designation also gives Cedartown and Polk County the opportunity to provide Georgia branded merchandise to local businesses at cost.
“This is a major step in our goal to get more visitors to our beautiful city,” said Cedartown City Commissioner Dale Tuck. “My thanks to Ramona Ruark and everyone involved in the RVIC designation process for continued efforts to promote tourism in Cedartown.”
Requirements to become a RVIC include: a permanent brochure rack with at least 50 percent of materials supporting Georgia cities and tourism attractions outside of Polk County, a minimum of a five-day operating schedule, public restroom, located near a highway, open one full year, a full-time manager and appropriate continued education and cross-training for on the duty manager among others.
Connor Hooper, former Manager of the Tallapoosa Visitor Information Center, brought the idea of turning the Cedartown Welcome Center into an RVIC to Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Blair Elrod who reviewed the qualifications and determined that the Cedartown Welcome Center fit the bill.
“The requirements to be named a RVIC were many and after looking at the Polk County community, I knew the Cedartown Welcome Center would be the best fit,” Elrod said.
Hooper, Elrod and Ruark were interviewed by the Georgia Department of Economic Development and toured a representative throughout the center, telling the history of Sterling Holloway, Cedartown and the Depot itself.
Hooper, who lives in Cedartown and is now the Assistant City Planner for the City of Cartersville, knew the importance of having the distinction, “Having a RVIC in Polk County will be instrumental in forming partnerships with other communities throughout the state,” he said.
Information for this story was provided by the Polk County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Cedartown’s Public Information Officer Aimee Madden.