Letters From Leton: Proud Appalachian

I recently attended an event in Bristol of a regional group that has been working on a name that could be used to market the entire region (East TN, SWVA).

The name “Tri-Cities” is basically limited to Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City, and there are many “Tri-Cities” around the country (for example, Tri-Cities in Virginia is Colonial Heights, Petersburg, and Hopewell).

During the session, they explained that after much research and input from many folks (including people from as far away as Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte), the top choice they were leaning towards was “Appalachian Highlands”. This past month that was made official.

At some point in the meeting and during the discussion afterwards, it was mentioned that some economic development officials were generally opposed to using the name “Appalachian”. They viewed “Appalachian” as a negative term that would create marketing issues.

To say that this flew all over me (a good Appalachian term) would not do it justice.

I arose to say that we should be proud of our culture, our people, and our mountains, and any “negative” connotations of the term “Appalachian” come from a lack of knowledge about it on the part of those viewing it negatively. I have also heard (from others that I shared this story with) that our younger folks may not have the same perspective as these older economic types.

To put it bluntly – we are what we are – and we should work to promote the many positives in our region (beauty, quality of life, cost of living, geographic safety, friendly people) and fix what is challenging (lack of jobs, drug addiction).

I guess some folks think it would be easier to call ourselves something else.

Me – Call me a proud Appalachian!

– Leton

“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.