Blog Contributor: Christina A. Williams
It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way of life for many people, but social distancing is taking on a whole new meaning as Georgia’s residents are migrating from the larger, metropolitan areas to seek out opportunities in smaller towns like Ellijay, GA. Population shifts have been happening all over the US, and it is a delight to see the growth of cultural diversity and intellectual capital in lesser known cities and less expensive locations outside of overcrowded cities, more specifically, Atlanta, GA.
Over 10 years ago, the population of Ellijay was barely over 1600, and as families move north away from the city, the small town in Gilmer County, GA has lots to gain from the population increase, especially the opportunity to capitalize on the skills and interests of newcomers, whether they stay temporarily in hopes of the end of the spread of COVID-19, or if they relocate permanently.
Because remote work has increased dramatically with the percentage of people quitting their jobs doubling since 2010, and virtual school becoming a more popular option for students, professionals with families are finding it less appealing to continue with the traditional hustle and bustle of commuting to office buildings, punching the clock for a 9 to 5 job, and instead, taking advantage of a strong internet connection to get work done by laptop while also spending time in their homes, safe from Coronavirus with their families. And cities like Ellijay are ready for the opportunity to entertain the new residents.
Tucked into the North Georgia Mountains, you can find things to do like wine tasting luxuries, apple orchard explorations and waterfall chasing adventures. It’s no secret that the Ellijay economy is destined to see imminent growth at the area’s attractions and events appeal to the growing population. Sitting only an hour outside of Atlanta, with easy access by highway, families can enjoy the
annual Georgia Apple Festival and visit campgrounds and trails hidden in the Chattahoochee National Forest to become one with nature. COVID-19 has created a unique opportunity for two highly contrasted resources to simultaneously increase in value, technological development and connection with nature. Moving to a town like Ellijay allows people to experience the best of both worlds, utilizing technology to work while still being able to fully immerse oneself into the tranquility of nature on a daily basis. What makes it more valuable is that in the midst of Coronavirus chaos, nature is a highly recognized resource for therapeutic recreation for those who suffer from social emotional disorders. Honestly, what could be better than nurturing anxiety from fighting daily to survive a public health crisis and the loneliness of being separated from loved ones for over a year, than exploring ecopsychology and ecotherapy in the North Georgia Mountains? There can’t possibly be any better way to focus on self-care.
Known as a small town with four big Vs, vision, ventures, views and values, Gilmer County’s Ambassadors pridefully welcome new businesses and professionals to the area with a shared sense of community. The county’s leadership isn’t hesitating to develop and prepare community resources to support the vast migration that will undoubtedly lead to a stronger regional economy, growing families and the inevitable buzz that will follow as Ellijay, GA stands out as the newest attraction in the Southeast.