Walker County & City of LaFayette Recognized for Tourism Efforts

Cartersville, GA – Walker County’s growing reputation as an outdoor adventure destination just received a boost from regional travel industry professionals.  Northwest Georgia’s Historic High Country Travel Association (HHCTA) recognized Walker Rocks with the 2018 Award for Association Excellence for Best Marketing Campaign.

Walker Rocks, a partnership between the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and Walker County Government, highlights the scenic and stunning destinations available in the county for rock climbing, caving, kayaking, hiking, biking and other outdoor experiences.  The campaign launched with the creation of videos highlighting local attractions, a start-up grant competition to encourage business growth in the tourism industry and the introduction of walkerrocks.com and several social media platforms, among other efforts.

“It’s thrilling to know that others in the region are taking note of what we have to offer here in Walker County,” said Lacey Wilson, President of the Walker County Chamber of Commerce.  “The Chamber is proud to be part of the collaborative team working to showcase and share the assets of this community with the rest of the world.”

Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director for Walker County Government, said “This validates the valuable role tourism plays in our community.  Six months in and we’re already seeing an increase in sales tax revenue and a boost in occupancy at area accommodations.”  Wardlaw added, “Walker Rocks is fun, but Walker Rocks is also an economic initiative to help bring equity to our tax base, which in turn helps our citizens.”

HHCTA, which is comprised of travel industry professionals from a 17-county area, also honored one of Walker County’s cities for its tourism efforts.  HHCTA named the City of LaFayette’s Honeybee Festival as Best Event and LaFayette Mayor Andy Arnold as Tourism Advocate of the Year.

With Growth In Mind, Whitfield Announce Staffing Changes for Walker County Government

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield is excited to announce two new members to his administration, as the county pivots from debt management as a primary focus to laying the foundation for sustainable growth.  Robert Wardlaw has been named Economic and Community Development Director and Matt Williamson has been named Legal and Policy Director for Walker County Government.

Wardlaw, a former Coca-Cola executive, built a successful business career founded on strong relationships, ethical behavior and a commitment to others.  In recent years, as a member of the Walker County Development Authority, Wardlaw gained expertise in economic development, site selection, state and federal tax incentives and helping businesses with development plans.

“We have the potential to close a number of active business deals that could lead to the creation of a significant number of jobs in Walker County,” said Commissioner Whitfield. “Wardlaw’s knowledge and proven track record in the business world gives us a competitive edge over other communities to turn these and other opportunities into winning outcomes for Walker County.”

In addition to recruiting new business and servicing existing industry, Wardlaw will work to anticipate and address current and future infrastructure needs to facilitate a thriving community.

Williamson, who served four years as an associate attorney at the highly respected law firm of Womack, Gottlieb & Rodham, will be tasked with helping Walker County keep pace with the needs of its growing citizenry.  Along with updating the county’s codes and policies, he’ll handle day to day legal issues that arise.  Williamson’s first assignment will be to oversee the update to the county’s antiquated Animal Control ordinance.

“I look forward to helping make ordinances clear and concise, reviewing and revising our contract management system, keeping the government in compliance with all federal and state laws and helping the Commissioner carry out his vision of making Walker County a better place for all of us,” said Williamson.

The new additions come at no incremental cost to Walker County. Wardlaw’s compensation will be in line with the county’s previous Economic Development Director.  Williamson, who will be restricted from receiving incentives for working on any future bond issues, will make less than what the county spent in hourly attorney’s fees last year.