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Businesses hoping to cash in at state park

POSTED: March 5, 2014 11:58 p.m.

Some area businesses are hoping to find their own source of green at Don Carter State Park.

“Doing Business With Don Carter State Park,” a free seminar Wednesday at the Hall County Government Center, attracted some 20 potential park vendors and concessionaires at Don Carter, which opened in July off Lake Lanier in North Hall.

“Having a state park in our backyard is just a great opportunity,” said Sue Albright of jB Jams, a Gainesville-based event planner and designer, after the meeting. “We would like to partner with Don Carter to get a little more exposure.”

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which operates the state parks, and Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau sponsored the event.

“We want to close the loop for the visitors and get as many businesses in the county doing business with the park and taking advantage of those nearly 100,000 people who have already been out there with money in their wallets,” CVB President Stacey Dickson told the group.

The 1,316-acre park at 5000 N. Browning Bridge Road, or off Clarks Bridge Road, features camping, boat ramps, fishing, picnicking, playgrounds, hiking and a large swimming beach, as well as eight rental cabins.

An event flier suggested recreational service, special event and program providers attend the seminar.

Park manager Will Wagner spoke to the group about its amenities and plans, which include a phase involving more cottages.

“We are fortunate to be located in the most popular river in the state of Georgia, where it dumps into the most-used lake in the state, so it’s a very unique opportunity,” he said.

“One of the main reasons that state parks are out there is for recreation, for people to visit ... but also for the economic impact on the local community.”

Mallory Barfield, a DNR contract specialist, talked about the process of becoming a concessionaire.

“Be creative, don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she told the businesses. “We love hearing new ideas, what people are interested in doing, their proposals. We want to make the parks fun. We want people to come out and enjoy them.”

Rob Caron, Brenau University’s dining services director, said he is interested in opportunities for event catering “and (to) participate in different events that the park may have going on.

“We do anything from black-tie catering and weddings to pulling up a smoker and doing barbecue sandwiches.”

Donna Gilder of Treasures Within and Donna’s Bait Shop said she didn’t necessarily see opportunities within the park, but that she is hoping to benefit from the park being nearby. Her business is on Clarks Bridge Road, which is the main artery taking visitors to North Browning Bridge Road.

“I’m here to promote the bait shop, to let everybody know it’s there,” she said. “I could possibly hook up with some of the fishing tournaments and things of that sort (in the park).”

She said she already has benefited from the park.

“Last year, there was a lot of people heading to the park and they’d stop and see me on the way,” Gilder said.


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