Snellville Tourism and Trade Promotes Community in a Big Way
By Kim Hill
“Get ready Snellville! 2019 is our tenth anniversary, and we are doing things in a big way,” says Kelly McAloon, executive director of Snellville Tourism and Trade (STAT). The 501(c)(6) destination marketing organization has a contractual relationship with the city to receive the hotel/motel tax. In turn, it uses those funds to be the marketing arm of the city itself, and hosts a year-long assortment of hugely attended community events.
“We started Connecting Our Community to Celebrate Snellville to bring all areas of the community together – business, folks coming through the city, and people from the outside,” says STAT President Don Britt. “We’re here for the hotels.” The two long-time Snellville area hotels, InTown Suites and La Quinta Inn & Suites, will soon be joined by Hampton Inn & Suites under construction on Scenic Highway. The STAT membership is excited about the new addition, and is working in conjunction with Hampton to promote the hotel beyond the city limits. “We really want to bring people into the city of Snellville to see what we have to offer,” says Britt.
STAT is the umbrella for Snellville Commerce Club, the Farmers’ Market, and the Community Garden. The Farmers’ Market actually came first, and at that time the idea of starting a Destination Marketing Organization to promote the downtown area came about. Plans for the Towne Green soon followed. “Over the next ten years the development of the Towne Center will continue to change the downtown area,” says Britt. “Snellville’s never had a traditional center of town, so you’re watching that happen right now.” Britt says the city has done a very good job to bring all the people together, meeting quarterly with all the groups – the Historical Society, the Downtown Development Authority, the Urban Redevelopment Authority – and other entities that are working in the city every day to make Snellville a better place.
“We are looking forward to the new Towne Center coming to Snellville,” says McAloon. She explains that they are gathering input from the citizens and have received really good feedback from the Historical Society members who want to keep the “old pieces” to bridge the gap from past to present, and to join together the old and the young. “To get the young people, the millennials, to come back where you still offer something for the seniors,” she says, “it’s just fun, you know, bringing everyone together as a whole.”
“There are so many things going on in Snellville,” Britt says. “There are programs at South and Brookwood [High Schools] where the youth are involved, and when people go away to school you want to have things to pull them back to their home town. Now it seems like the millennials, baby boomers, and seniors all want the same thing – live, work, play – the walkability. So we’re a cog in the wheel to try to promote everything, to get everything moving.” He cites the recent concert on the Green, which had close to 1,500 people in attendance. People come from all over for these events because they are promoted in a big way. “All the cities are almost competing with activities, which is great for lifestyle in our county,” adds Britt.
“We try to extend what we do into the community and to draw people in by building relationships,” says McAloon. An example is the Scarecrow Contest, which engages area businesses by having them do promotions to lure voters to their locations. “Last year’s winner was outside city limits and off the beaten path, but did such a good job of promoting they won with over 1,000 votes,” she says. She adds that proceeds from events like the Scarecrow Contest and Festival of Trees are donated to the Southeast Co-op. “So it’s always revolving, doing something in the community, then giving back to people who need.”
Upcoming events include the Fall Festival on October 20th and the Christmas Tree Lighting with the popular lighted parade, which has exponentially grown from about 800 people to over 4,000. Local businesses get involved in the events. Rhodes Bakery does cookie decorating, Wages Funeral Home does S’mores, and Home Depot does the building. “Of course, we can’t do what we do without our sponsors,” says McAloon, “and we can’t do what we do without our volunteers. They are without a doubt the heart of the city. Our goal is to always give the community the best. We want people to have a great experience to remember and to come back.”
“It’s all about bringing people together,” says Britt. “Meeting somebody new, and building community spirit – Snellville spirit!”
More information at www.exploresnellville.com