GAINESVILLE – It seems that the Manager of Gainesville’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau must have some fishing skills; Regina Dyer, it appears, knows a “bite” when she feels one. And it is apparent that Dyer has “set the hook” on a lucrative source of revenue for the city.
Dyer appeared before the Gainesville City Council Thursday morning at their work session with a handful of small bumper stickers shaped like a bass. She encouraged everyone in the room to take one, put it on their rear window and help her let the world know that bass-fishermen (and women) are welcome in Gainesville.
“I am here to bring you good tidings and cheer,” Dyer said enthusiastically as she took her seat before the council..
“In September and October we had five tournaments (bass fishing) that we were involved with, that we assisted with, provided maybe some meeting space and I brought them some snacks and waters,” She explained.
“From those tournaments the economic impact was $1.13-million,” Dyer explained surprising everyone in the room who was not an avid fisherman.
Those who ply the waters of Lake Lanier regularly have long known the amount of money they spend on their pastime but have often puzzled at the lack of government recognition of their contribution to the local economy.
Patrick Wiley of The Outdoor Depot in Gainesville has been in the fishing tackle business for decades. He says of the hundreds of fisherman and women he has met very few work in governmental positions, so the lack of recognition is natural.
Wiley said without firsthand competitive fishing experience among city and county leaders, “…nobody that’s actually involved in that particular part of the government understands or has taken into consideration what we have to offer.”
“As usual the sportsman usually pays the bill but they get left on the outside. The fact that we do…bring a lot of good stuff to the table, without having any kind of negative impact to the community, should be recognized,” Wiley added.
Crowded boat ramp parking lots, even during the coldest months of the year, attest to the number of participants, with many of the vehicle tags telling the story of anglers who travel long distances to visit Lake Lanier.
But things might be changing as that untapped resource appears to be a new focus for Gainesville under Dyer’s tutelage.
“We, of course, have the FLW (major professional fishing circuit) tournament in March, which is going to be a huge tournament,” Dyer told council members. “That alone is thought to be at least $2-million economic impact. We’re very excited about that, already working with the hotels, booking rooms.”
“We are kind of ‘under the radar’, but we’re really doing a lot of things…and are really excited. I think the fishing partnerships have been very beneficial.”
Dyer added, “They’re very easy to work with; they just seem like what we would consider our low-hanging fruit.”