While surrounding communities prosper, data shows the Tri-Cities economy is stagnant and the available workforce is shrinking.
Local leaders say renaming the region is a crucial step to counter some of our areas biggest problems, beginning with population decline.
Wednesday night local business and political leaders participated in a “Renaming the Region Town Hall Town Hall” event. Those leaders included President of East Tennessee State University Brian Noland, Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine, Kingsport Mayor Elect Pat Shull, Johnson City Vice Mayor Joe Wise, Bristol Mayor Margaret Feierabend, and members from the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce.
Local leaders chimed in on the discussion of regionalism, explaining the decline in population is having a negative effect on major employers.
“So these conversations about regionalism about a regional brand and a regional focus are things that we wrestle with every year as we are recuiting individuals from across the nation and across globe here at ETSU,” said Dr. Brian Noland, President of East Tennessee State University.
Many on social media had negative comments. Some claiming they did not see a need to spend $48,000 on a re-branding study.
Vice Mayor Joe Wise claimed otherwise.
“So to those who say to spend 48 thousand dollars to get the message right, I say thats not wasteful,” Wise said. “What’s wasteful is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in the public sector, the private sector and our institions doing trial and error marketing.”
Even those who supported the first suggestion for regional brand, Appalachian Highlands, say they are open to other possibilities, yet to be revealed in the publicly funded study.
While Johnson City leaders officially commissioned the study, News Channel 11 learned the cost is being shared by nine local governments and visitor bureaus.
A survey of people who live outside of the region will continue until June 1st and a final report is due by Mid-July.