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The delegates from Georgia spent a week in North Georgia as part of the exchange program,
Open World Leadership Center (Open World). Open World is an exchange program hosted
by the United States Congress for countries of the post-Soviet era

Dawson welcomes visitors from Georgia—the country

What do the Bowen Center for the Arts, Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery, Fausett Farms, White Oak Learning Academy, Amicalola Falls State Park, and North Georgia Premium Outlets have in common?

They all were destinations on a tour led by the Dawson County Chamber of Commerce through the county for a group of delegates from the country of Georgia.

The delegates spent a week in North Georgia as part of the exchange program, Open World Leadership Center (Open World). Open World is an exchange program hosted by the United States Congress for countries of the post-Soviet era. The exchange program gives delegates an opportunity to learn best practices and operations of businesses and organizations in the U.S. The six delegates selected for this program had backgrounds in agriculture, arts, entrepreneurship, and business development.

“We were honored to host visitors from the country of Georgia through the Open World Program in Dawsonville,” Dawson County Chamber President Christie Haynes said. “We worked diligently to provide programming that matched the interests and current careers of our visitors. “

On April 4, the visitors were taken to locations in Dawson County that best matched each delegate’s career path. Starting at the Bowen Center for the Arts, delegates engaged in conversations about the importance of celebrating arts and culture. Since the country of Georgia does not have a program similar to Pre-k, the delegates visited White Oak Learning Academy to learn the importance of intentional early learning curriculum and the impact it can have on children. They ate lunch at the Chamber and Welcome Center where they learned about supporting local business, the demographics of the area, strategies to attract economic development, and the potential for tourism development as a major factor of a local economy.

The delegates had a whirlwind of a day. The Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery hosted the visitors for a tour and discussion of additional products that can come from the local agricultural sector. Mark Hughes met the group at Fausett Farms to discuss the bee industry and the entrepreneurial potential that bee keeping represents. The delegates wrapped up their day with a visit to Amicalola Falls where a park ranger provided a guided tour and a comparison to geography and climate of their native country. On Wednesday, the delegates spent half of their day in Dawson County, visiting with the general manager of the North Georgia Premium Outlets, Heather Halpern, and participating in the support of our local economy through shopping throughout the afternoon.

At each stop on the tour, the delegates learned about each organization and had the opportunity to ask questions and gather ideas. “We are blessed to work and live in a community with so many positive attributes to share. It was very difficult for us to pick only a few to showcase,” Haynes said.

Tinatin Gholadze, a delegate who represented the Entrepreneurs Association in Georgia, said the day in Dawson County provided her with lots of information and ideas to take back to her organization. “For me it was really interesting to learn about how the arts center and chamber are operating in Dawson County, learning about their daily activities and fundraising strategies,” Gholadze said. “Inspired with these activities, I’m planning to initiate business lunches with successful entrepreneurs and sell them in order to support our local activities and member entrepreneurs.” Gholadze said it was also interesting to learn about day-to-day operations of local businesses.

Haynes said she is excited about the idea of future international partnerships. “Hosting these visitors opened up doors for partnering with entrepreneurs in other countries. We were also able to share best practices and ideas that can have a profound impact on the visitors’ local economies upon their return.”

While in the United States, the group stayed with the active Friendship Force chapter out of Big Canoe. They visited multiple towns including Canton, Dawsonville, Dahlonega, and Ellijay.

For more information about Open World, visit www.openworld.gov.

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