CUTHBERT – This small southwest Georgia community is back in the news again, thanks to the Tourism Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
A crew was in town recently to shoot a video that will be part of a program that will be shown at the joint meeting of the House and Senate Economic Development Committees at the Governor’s Tourism Conference in September. The video celebrates the accomplishments of the Tourism Product Development Team as they help small towns in Georgia grow their tourism business.
The video will tell the success stories of Cuthbert, Dublin, Toccoa and Warm Springs. The State Tourism Product Development Team first visited Randolph County in June 2016. Patricia Goodman, the former Randolph County Chamber of Commerce president, was instrumental in bringing the team to the county.
The team spent three days touring and visiting with area businesses and people and obtained first-hand knowledge of the county’s tourism opportunities and challenges. They returned two months later and shared their findings and recommendations.
Since the report was presented, Randolph County, the cities of Cuthbert and Shellman, and Andrew College have all been working on implementing many of the team’s recommendations in order to promote tourism and improve Cuthbert’s and Shellman’s downtown areas. The tourism team asked Andrew College President Linda Buchanan to participate in the filming, as Andrew College has been a major player in the success of the program. With the purchase and gifting of six buildings in downtown Cuthbert, the college has been able to move some of its arts, theater and music programs downtown to help with revitalization as well as to increase college enrollment and attract more tourists.
The college also hosts live jazz events downtown, and, with the help of various grants and the artistic talent of Andrew College Art Professor Chris Johnson, 10 painted murals have been created in Cuthbert and Shellman. The scenic location of the two largest murals in Cuthbert, now dubbed Magnolia Alley, was designed to become a gathering place primarily for the arts, which include music, visual arts and theater.
“We have been very fortunate,” Buchanan said, “in that the State Tourism Product Development Team provided us with a ‘blueprint’ for change. We are doing our best to follow that and to bring interest and tourism to our county.”