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Chamber, IDA target gateway cleanup
10.21 freddy long
Effingham County Chamber of Commerce President Freddy Long - photo by File photo

Effingham Chamber of Commerce and Industrial Development Authority officials want to make Highway 21 into the county more than just a busy four-lane road.

Chamber President Freddy Long told IDA members Thursday morning that sprucing up the entrance into the county for thousands of cars and drivers each day is a priority. A marketing committee has talked with the state Department of Transportation about beautification on Highway 21.

“We’re looking for ways to put our best foot forward,” Long said.

Said Chamber Executive Director Ken Stoner: “(Highway) 21 is our gateway. It’s more than a beautification project. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Long also discussed the appearance of the Highway 80 gateway into the county, which is also well-traveled. He has visited several other Georgia cities and towns to see how they present themselves.

Improving the most traveled entrance and exit from the county could helping in luring more businesses and residents to the county.

IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said the Highway 21 entrance clean up is something the board needs to support.

“The first impression is very important,” said board member Charles Hinely.

Long said the current Leadership Effingham class is being broken up into smaller groups, with each group getting a project to do. One group has the Highway 21 cleanup as its task.

“It’s the perfect storm right now,” Henry said. “As everybody is thinking about it, maybe something will get done.”

A Chamber tourism committee also is exploring ways of luring the vast tourist business Savannah gets to Effingham, even if just for day trips to the historic areas.

“A lot of things can happen in Effingham for one-day tourism,” Long said.