Courthouse square

File / The Outlook

Music on the Square patrons gather outside Zazu's Verandah in downtown Dadeville earlier this year.

The pandemic times have been busy for Lake Martin-Dadeville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber vice president Jim Cahoon spoke of the new business take-off at a Dadeville Kiwanis Club meeting Thursday.

"Now this is going to surprise you — we've had 13 grand openings of new businesses this year," he said. "In Dadeville, that's probably a record. (And) we've had 30 new members come into the chamber. I think that's probably a record too."

Chamber president Peggy Bullard confirmed the record.

"We've done more ribbon cuttings in this little town than we've ever done," she said, adding there were several more to go.

The data is not scientific — ribbon cuttings used to be for chamber members only, Bullard said, but are now done for everyone — but local business owners speak to the trend.

Mitzy Hidding, co-owner of event venue Zazu's Verandah, points to all the new ventures just within the courthouse square — the Miller Hotel building, shuttered since the '80s, is being flipped into a restaurant, B&B and snack bar; Dadeville Performing Arts Center is moving in next door; Dadeville High School graduate Raven Tolbert has opened a dance studio on the corner, and smoothie shop Tallapoosa Nutrition celebrated the grand opening of its new location Friday. A yarn shop is moving into the old one.

"With all of those, you're hearing openings," Hidding said. "You're not hearing so-and-so is closing. It's fantastic."

The trend belies Dadeville's 4.5% decline in population from 2010 to 2020, according to the 2020 Census released last month. Not captured in that decline, however, is the presumed pandemic-driven growth since April 2020, nor the explosion of Lake Martin homeownership; developer Russell Lands reports its waterfront property sales up 75% from 2019 to 2020. Lake Martin second homeowners are not counted in the Census, and most of that growth lies outside Dadeville city limits (nor is the Lake Martin-Dadeville Area Chamber of Commerce bound by city limits).

Meanwhile, new business applications in Tallapoosa County have soared with 353 applications in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than double its 2013 low point of 156.

At the Kiwanis Club Thursday, Bullard spoke of the fortunate problem of having too many businesses to support.

"We're inviting all these new businesses into Dadeville," she said. "And we're welcoming them and if they want to turn around and join (the chamber), we would accept them. But Dadeville is growing. Dadeville is growing so fast right now, it's hard for us to keep up with them."

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