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The first ever Cherokee Connect live event was held on Sept. 17. The event was put together to help local businesses and business owners connect face to face.

The first ever Cherokee Connect Live Event was held on Sept. 17, in Canton, which served as a networking opportunity for local business owners and members of the Cherokee Connect Business Directory, a subset of the popular Cherokee Connect Facebook group.

“To keep from people overrunning the Facebook group with ads, we created a subset of the group, which is the business directory,” Canton resident and Cherokee Connect creator Josh Bagby said. “There is a membership fee to advertise in the group, which helps offset the cost of the time it takes to moderate the group and the subset group. This live event was marketed for this subset group.”

Bagby said that the event was put together with the help of Tradebank Atlanta owner Lee Conner, who reached out to him about setting up the networking opportunity.

“My company is nationwide, but our headquarters are in Atlanta, and I maintain my headquarters office in Canton, so I am familiar with the area and its residents and businesses,” Conner said. “One of the things that I have discovered is that the Cherokee County community is very driven to help one another, which is why Cherokee Connect is so active. I haven’t seen anything like this before.”

Conner added that he had received a lot of feedback from his business clients who were tired of coronavirus restrictions because they wanted to go out and be with people again, as well as properly advertise their businesses. All of the feedback led to Conner contacting Bagby about setting up a live networking event.

Both Bagby and Conner decided that it was a great idea, as long as they could do it safely. Bagby said that social distancing restrictions were put into place to allow everyone in attendance a safe opportunity to speak with one another. Conner added that many business representatives quickly contacted them about wanting to be a part of the event.

“One of the questions we had businesses answer to us before they could join the event was what types of businesses could be beneficial to you to develop relationships with,” Conner. “With that information I tried to match that business with three of four other businesses. It was basically like an ice breaker event in that sense.”

Bagby said that some of the local businesses that were present were Old Country Place, Big Georgia Bundts Cake, CaliFino Tequila, Enjoy Cherokee Magazine, and Reformation Brewery.

“It was just a fun event inside the Thrive Coworking area at (The Mill on Etowah),” Bagby said. “We had a lot of people there and it was great to see so many local business owners networking with each other.”

The Cherokee Connect Facebook group was started by Bagby last October and serves as a way to allow residents, organizations, and local businesses in the county to interact with one another.

“The goal is in the name, I wanted to help people in the community connect on one platform,” Bagby said.

Bagby added that the rapid rise of the group in only one year of activity, as well as the sense of community within the group, has been gratifying to see take place.

“The community has really bought into this Facebook group and it is great that residents have really bought into supporting these local businesses,” Bagby said. “We are close to 21,000 members now and I couldn’t be happier with the groups growth.”

Conner said that there are plans in motion to possibly hold a Cherokee Connect Live Event on a quarterly basis, with the next event possibly taking place during the holiday season, with holiday incentives in place like toy donations.

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Ethan is a reporter covering the cities of Holly Springs & Canton. He also covers city governments and lifestyle. He is a graduate of Kennesaw State University.

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