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Tilley takes the helm at Visit LaGrange

Visit LaGrange’s Kathy Tilley is settling into her new role as president. 

Although different than she imagined due to the shelter-in-place order, her first few weeks as the president has consisted of tackling housekeeping items and learning about the new organization.

“I’ve been calling tourism partners to introduce myself, and seeing if there was anything we can do for them,” Tilley said. “Now that the governor passed an order that they can open, I have been calling to ask how many of them were going to open or [whether] they knew when they were going to open.”

Tilley is also currently working on a new visitor’s guide to give to travelers when they come to LaGrange.

In her role as Visit LaGrange President/CEO, Tilley will help develop, coordinate, direct and implement a comprehensive strategy for marketing LaGrange as a tourism destination.

In January, Tilley accepted the position but continued as Interim President of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce until a new president of that organization was hired. Before that, Tilley spent years focused on destination marketing and has a background of almost 20 years focused on it at Callaway Gardens.

“That is really what I love, economic development,” Tilley said. “It is fun and happy economic development. I love being able to promote a product I believe in, and I certainly believe in LaGrange. I think LaGrange has a lot to offer to visitors.”

Tilley said that because of LaGrange’s authentic small town feel and rich history, she expects it will be a hot spot for visitors after the quarantine is over.

“We have a lot to offer to families, the tour bus market, singles, eventgoers and more,” Tilley said. “LaGrange has got it all. I was excited to get back into tourism.”

Tilley said she is taking on the job head-on with goals to improve the community.

“I want to better understand what the tourism partners are, what they offer and how that can become a complete story for us to tell about the city of LaGrange,” Tilley said. “Another goal is to also get a new visitor center up and going. That’s going to be a big piece of it.”

Visit LaGrange was established to be the destination marketing organization for the City of LaGrange and is funded by hotel-motel tax.

“I think the biggest thing the community will see is the opening of a new visitor center,” Tilley said. “We aren’t sure when that will happen but that is one of the big things locals will see. Once people start traveling again, our efforts will be focused outward to people outside of the city to bring them into the city.”

Additionally, the tourism website visitlagrange.com, has a current listing of what restaurants are open. 

There is also information about local attractions that Visit LaGrange is currently promoting to help attract visitors when people can travel again.

“I am very excited that Kathy is on board full-time now,” said Visit LaGrange Board Chairman Bobby Carmichael in a press release from the city. “We anticipate our tourism partners being able to open soon, so we can promote travel to LaGrange again.”