Archer overseeing Bartow's unified tourism program
by Marie Nesmith
Jul 17, 2011 | 3674 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As the executive director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Ellen Archer's top priority is strengthening the area's tourism base.

Along with popular entities like Cartersville's museums, Red Top Mountain State Park and the Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site, the county has benefited from facilities like the Clarence Brown Conference Center and well-attended events, such as the Atlanta Steeplechase, which brings more than 20,000 people annually to the Kingston Downs complex.

Another top offering is the Miss Georgia USA and Miss Georgia Teen USA pageants. In its fifth year of hosting the pageants, the local CVB is expecting to see about a 7-to-1 return on its annual investment. Past pageant surveys reported that the three-day event at Cartersville's Woodland High School Performing Arts Center has more than a $200,000 economic impact on the county.

CVB officials also predict Cartersville will continue to reap the benefits for years to come. Through publicity that the event generates and introducing the contestants and their families to county attractions, the CVB looks to promote return visitation. On average, each overnight visitor in Georgia spends more than $100, which includes expenses, such as lodging, meals, gas and tourist sites.

Occupation: Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director

City of residence: Cartersville South, that means south of Emerson in unincorporated Bartow County

Family: Husband, David Archer -- married 30 years. Two daughters, Mary Ellen, 25, and Martha Jane, 20. Four step children, Margaret Zimmer, David Archer Jr., Catherine Archer and William Archer. A bunch of grandchildren: Aaron Zimmer, Caroline Zimmer, Marlee Archer, Cade Archer, Avery Archer, Elizabeth Rose Brookshire, EmmaGrace Godfrey, Will Archer, Ali Archer, Brooks Archer and grand pup, Layla.

Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of Georgia, 1979, and Master of Communication, Georgia State University, 1987.

Age: None of your business.

When did you become the executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau and why did you want to be a part of this organization?

A: I took a position at the Weinman Mineral Museum in the late 1980s. The museum was run by the Cartersville Tourism Council and funded from the 3 percent hotel motel tax collected by the hotels within the Cartersville city limits. Because of the low level of funding, after covering the administrative costs of the museum, there was nothing left over to promote the other wonderful assets of Cartersville and Bartow County.

I did a little investigation and found out that if both Cartersville and Bartow County raised the hotel/motel tax to 5 percent, there would be sufficient funding for a tourism marketing program for all of Bartow County. My board presented the idea to then Commissioner Frank Moore and the Cartersville City Council and they agreed. Thus the Cartersville-Bartow Tourism Council was born in October 1989. So I suppose you could say I sort of made a job for myself.

What is the purpose of your agency?

A: The purpose of the Cartersville-Bartow County CVB is to foster economic development through tourism expenditures in Bartow County.

Describe Bartow County's typical visitor and the top attractions that draw them to this area.

A: The majority of visitors is still the empty-nest couple. However, with the ever-growing popularity of Tellus Science Museum, parent(s) with children is becoming a close second. The top attractor remains Lake Allatoona/Red Top Mountain State Park, followed by Tellus, Booth Western Art Museum, Etowah Mounds and Barnsley Gardens Resort.

What are your future goals for the CVB and tourism in Bartow County?

A: (1) To establish a statewide brand that is automatically recognized as Cartersville-Bartow County. (2) To establish a program of education for front-line employees in hotels, restaurants, gas stations and attractions so that they can easily answer the top two visitor question: "What's there to do?" And "Where's a good restaurant?"

Where would you like to see the CVB and Bartow's tourism in 10, 20 years?

A: I would like all our current assets sustained and growing. I would like to see the performing arts community drawing the audiences they deserve. I would like to see Cartersville retain its wholesome, hometown, "notatlanta" atmosphere. I would like to see the coming Lakepoint Sports Development prospering and feeding customers to other businesses in Bartow County. Finally, I'd really like to see a waterfront hotel on Lake Allatoona.

How has the economic downturn affected tourism in Bartow County and are you starting to see an increase in visitors to this area?

A: In fiscal 2009 hotel lodging tax receipts dropped 12.6 percent from the previous year. Since the CVB was formed in 1991, that was the first time receipts had dropped below the previous year's collections. In fiscal 2010 they dropped an additional 1.8 percent. However, the fiscal year 2011 ended with a 8.2 percent increase over 2010. Still, the CVB's funding -- the money we have to market Bartow County -- is back at 2006 levels.

What do you enjoy most about this line of work?

A: It is multifaceted. I have a short attention span.

What is your greatest professional or personal achievement?

A: I think the most important thing I've done professionally has been my contribution to maintaining a countywide, unified tourism program for Bartow County, which includes a partnership with Bartow County, city of Cartersville and city of Adairsville. Many counties have separate tourism marketing programs for every town in that county. That dilutes available funds and fragments the message you try to send out.

From a personal perspective, I'd say creating a home with my husband, David, where our children know they can always call home, and where I think people are comfortable.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

A: Most people are surprised to find out that I was a Superior Court probation officer for five years.

What is your favorite restaurant/meal?

A: My favorite restaurant is just a memory restaurant now. There was a mom and pop Greek restaurant on Tybee Island, on the tacky little oceanfront strip, that we used to go to every year. It had wonderful moussaka that I've been searching for since the restaurant closed about a decade ago.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

A: Gardening, reading and my favorite winter sport is puzzling.

What is your favorite quote?

A: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Where is your favorite place to be in Bartow County?

A: My backyard.